I can’t believe Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. It seems as if just yesterday I was watching the Fourth of July fireworks.
I can remember when I was a newlywed and really was gung-ho about cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Now, over 45 years later, I’d be perfectly happy just to buy some sliced turkey from the local deli, slap it between a couple slices of bread and eat it in front of the TV…while I’m still in my pajamas.
I still can remember the first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked. It was a big deal for me because I’d never prepared a feast before, and I was going to be cooking for seven people. To me, that was the equivalent of cooking for an entire school cafeteria.
The month before Thanksgiving, I bought just about every woman’s magazine on the market and carefully studied all of the recipes in them. I didn’t want to make just basic stuff, I wanted to be fancy and unique. I planned to make orange-cranberry relish instead of just plain cranberry sauce. I decided to make pumpkin-chiffon pie instead of run-of-the-mill pumpkin pie. And I wanted roasted chestnuts and wild rice in the dressing.
By the time I bought everything I needed to make the meal, it ended up costing me so much, I probably could have hired Wolfgang Puck to prepare and serve our Thanksgiving dinner.
As it turned out, I encountered two major problems on Thanksgiving Day. The first was my roasted turkey. It looked beautiful – picture perfect – a nice golden brown in color.
And it was so tough, it bent the knife when we tried to carve it.
“This turkey must have died of old age,” my husband said, frowning, after he had spent 10 minutes unsuccessfully trying to chew the first bite.
My aunt, also chewing, made a comment in Russian, her native language. I had no idea what the translation was, but judging from her expression and the fact she nearly needed the Heimlich maneuver when she finally managed to swallow, I was pretty sure she wasn’t saying, “Mmmm! This turkey is so moist and delicious!”
When my father tried to cut off a drumstick for himself, he had to spend more time sawing it than a lumberjack at work. And when he finally grabbed the drumstick, attempting to rip it off, the entire turkey came off the platter with it.
The fact that I’d left the bag of innards still tucked inside the turkey when I cooked it didn’t help the chewy bird gain any gourmet points either.
But even worse than the tough, bag-of-guts-filled turkey was the fact that our ancient septic tank decided to back up right on Thanksgiving morning. It had rained hard the night before and the ground had become so saturated, the water poured into the tank…which then backed up into the house.
Let’s just say that the aroma I’d hoped would greet my guests when they walked into the house definitely hadn’t been “Eau de Restroom.” One whiff, and they probably thought I was cooking food I’d scrounged out of a dumpster somewhere.
Thankfully, due to much trial and error over the years, my subsequent Thanksgiving dinners became increasingly better – and some even garnered a few rave reviews.
But experience also taught me there was something I could do a week before Thanksgiving to ensure that the meal would turn out perfectly, with no stress whatsoever.
Make reservations at a really nice restaurant.
HELP GIVE A DOG OR CAT A MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Every year at this time, I offer signed copies my books, There’s a Tick in my Underwear!, Heed the Predictor or Conceal the Predictor, that you can order directly from me for $10 each (the price includes shipping), with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Manchester Animal Shelter – the shelter where I adopted my dog, Eden. To order, send $10 to me at PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585. I’ll even personally autograph it to anyone you’d like, if you specify his or her name (please print clearly). You also can pay me through my Paypal account (email@example.com) if you want to use a credit or debit card. Thank you in advance! The animals and I really appreciate it!
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