Thursday, November 26, 2009
Twenty five years ago we moved into a new house the day before Thanksgiving. Our furniture had been in storage for over four weeks after a move from Houston to upstate New York. At nightfall on Thanksgiving Eve what we had for the most part was beds set up in the bedrooms with bare mattresses and a LOT of boxes.
In an effort to make things easier, we bought several disposable aluminum pans to cook or bake in and a stack of paper plates. Add some sturdy plastic "silverware", plastic glasses and several rolls of paper towels and we were good to go.
Early Thanksgiving morning, there were hints that all was not going well. The first clue was the hot water in the toilets. Nice to have a warm seat, but a profligate use of hot water when we needed it for cleaning, laundry and dishwashing.
The next problem that reared its head was the frozen pipes in the kitchen area. No water--hot or cold. Never the less, we persevered. By eleven a.m. our turkey was in the oven, most of the side dishes were in the process and we were back to unpacking boxes. And boxes. And boxes...
At last the turkey was close to done. The househunk seized the pan with a couple sturdy pot holders and lifted it up (heading for the counter next to the stove) when the unthinkable happened. The pan collapsed, spilling burning turkey drippings all over his hands.
He tossed the turkey pan onto the stove top...where it promptly exploded.
We had turkey, dressing, and greasy drippings everywhere. Floor, ceiling, walls, counters and cabinets, and all over my new stove. All the things we'd cleaned so carefully and set on the counter were covered in bits of dressing and drippings.
After the initial shock and checking the house hunk's hands for damage, we embarked on the massive clean up. I vividly remember crouching on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, vainly trying to clean the grease ingrained in the textured tiles. "I want to go home!" I wailed.
The house hunk leaned down to pat me on the shoulder. "You forget. We ARE home."
Eventually, we sat down to eat what we salvaged from the turkey and side dishes. Life moved on. Other disasters arrived to shove the memories aside. But every Thanksgiving one of the kids will get a reminiscent expression on their face and ask with a glint of humor in their eyes, "Do you remember?"
In some ways, that Thanksgiving pulled us together, preparing us for the really, really bad year we were going to endure. Triumphing over that single disaster taught us that we could deal with almost anything as long as we stuck together.
Sigh. I have to admit that since then, turkey really isn't on my menu most years.
PS: Happy Birthday to my cousin Molly--who is SIXTY today. Neener, neener. I'm STILL older than you!