Thanksgiving memories are usually zany
Years ago, when all the kids were home and wondering what they had ever done to deserve life in a gulag with a tyrant for a mother, we had huge Thanksgivings. We always invited friends and family and I pretended to know what I was doing in the kitchen, making up to 12 pies and every fixing I could muster.
One day in late summer, friends with a ranchette came by on a mission. They raised a few assorted farm animals and had bought baby turkeys early in the spring. As the fowl were doted on, they began to grow into shocking sizes. With holidays approaching in a few months, Tim asked if we might be interested in a turkey for Thanksgiving? Without hesitation, we readily agreed.
Two days before Thanksgiving, our turkey arrived via Gar, straining slightly to pack it to the cupboard. That was my first clue that I was in for a tussle, but the real shock came as I peeled back the bag containing it. This thing was something out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It had been hand-plucked and cleaned, for which I will always hold Lyn, Tim and his dad, Ed, in a special place in my tiny heart, but the bird was gargantuan. With furrowed brows, I contemplated our refrigerator, too dopy to think ahead to the oven.
Clearing space by taking out a shelf in the fridge, I pondered how long it would take to cook, still not zeroing in on how I was going to get it in the oven. We all know by now, I’m not a quick study and this is living proof.
The night before feast day, I surveyed the bird and my roaster. It was not going to fit. Pulling out a huge pan I used to bake a batch of 50 cinnamon rolls, I began lathering butter over the breast then created a tent from three long sheets of aluminum foil, encapsulating the whole shebang.
Setting my bedside alarm for 1 a.m., knowing it would have to roast for hours, I put head to pillow, still blissfully ignorant to size of oven vs. bird ratio. I woke from a dead sleep to my clock telling me to face the music so I groggily made my way to the kitchen. I have no business being there in the daylight, much less when I’m not optimum, but I realized long ago that I wasn’t ever going to be an expert at anything so might as well forge ahead pretending to be adept at culinary shenanigans.
Looking in the fridge, it began to dawn on me that the turkey was bigger than anything I’d ever cooked. Getting my weight scale, the one that when I step a foot on says, “Both of you get off,” I grappled with the weighty bird while trying to see numbers. Holy mother of God…54 pounds. I bit my lip.
After stuffing it with dressing, I re-tented it and opening the oven, sent a prayer to Jesus, “Lord I know I’m a whiner, but I really mean it this time. Please make the oven miraculously bigger for what I’m about to do.” I took the middle grate out, moved the bottom one as low as possible and eyed the hole. Staggering slightly with the oblong weight of the container, I attempted to slide it into the space. Nope. It missed going in by-a-lot.
I got a little more serious with my heavenly request, “Lord, now no foolin’ I need help with this thing, the guest list is long and they expect turkey, and you and I are the ones for the job, so please God, wake up.” (Little joke – God is always awake and keeping me, I promise you, from being any dumber than I usually appear.)
Once again, I attempted to slide the pan inside and it seemed almost to fit. I saw this as miraculous and pondered for only a moment about what I needed as leverage to bulldoze the beast into place. I glanced down and giving a chortle, pulled off my fluffy, pink bedroom slipper. Now, what I’m about to tell you is just between us. I grabbed the butter and slid a pat over the top of the tinfoil tent. With one hand braced against the cupboard, I planted my bare foot on the side of that pan and shoved hard. It slid into that oven like it was getting paid. Necessity is the mother of invention. Thank you, Jesus.
Trena Eiden [email protected]