Thanksgiving That Wasn’t … and Then Was

It’s the pan drippings. I’m not a gravy person, really. The idea of all that extra starchiness isn’t appealing, but as the turkey needs to cook for so long, there’re those scents that permeate the house. You go outside with some recycling to put in the bin, into the crisp chill, then when you come back in the smell hits you again and that anticipation of everything on the plate, with pan drippings all over it… I apologize to vegetarians if you’re still reading.

It is nice to have my three grown children and their significant others under one roof, and Al loves to cook. I make the stuffing every year. he baked the pies early, they were cooling on the stovetop. The stuffing and other side dishes (sweet potatoes, twice baked potatoes sprinkled with bacon and cheese, etc.) were cold and just needed to be popped in the oven during the last hr. or so of turkey cook-time. I have a double-oven, one on top, one on the bottom.

Every seven years my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. So sometimes presents and cake accompany the meal. Not this year. This Thanksgiving was late in the month. So… my sons Silas and Jeff were already here and my former daughter-in-law H. was going to drop off my now 12 yr. old grandson Jaden any minute. My other son, and his new wife and baby (Jaden’s sister) were due to arrive as well. Jaden came bursting in, “The tree is on fire!”

“Huh? What are you going on about, Jaden?”

“The wire, at the end of the street… a tree is on it and it’s got like, sparks and flames and stuff.” I live on a dead-end, there is no outlet once you turn onto the street. Jaden sits at the table, which has been nicely, humbly, set by Silas. It is just right for us. The paper tablecloth is already torn. There is not room for some of us, but there are recliners and Al likes to sit there anyway, to eat.


The Macy’s balloons are traipsing up and down the street on TV, my daughter in law loves the parade and I tape it every yr. in case she misses any. The balloons are low to the ground because there was talk it was so windy they would bob and hurt someone. Then the TV clicks off. I hear Al from the kitchen remarking about the power.

I go outside because Jaden and I see his mother is still parked out there. She tells me that they won’t let her leave the street because of the tree on the wire. Policeman are not allowing it. Eventually she cuts through backyards and walks to the street adjacent to ours, where someone picks her up so she can have dinner at her father’s. How will my son Jer and his family get here? They end up parking on the adjacent street and walking through the woods at the end of the road where the cul de sac is.

When my son Jer was a baby, I was out walking, pushing his blue stroller, when my friend (who lived a few houses away from me and had agorophobia) said she needed to get home, now. We took a shortcut through those very woods and I lost a wheel on the stroller in the process. When Jer walked in, I told him the story.

“You’re kidding! I think I saw that wheel.”

“That was over 20 years ago, no way!”

He walked back and took a picture and texted me it. Sure looked like that wheel.


The turkey was probably an hour and a half away from being done. Everyone was here. We sat around hoping for the best, surely the power would come back on soon. Then my phone buzzed, an alert from the electric company with an estimated time of 7PM that power would be restored. There would be no Macy’s parade. There would be no meal. Eventually we admitted defeat and served up pie, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream. That was not pan drippings but we were hungry at this point.


Al removed the partially cooked turkey from the oven. Tomorrow (Black Friday) was another day. Sure enough we had power. Al put the turkey back in the oven, and Jaden and I made cookies. We waited for Jer and his wife and baby to arrive. Al chopped fresh squash on a mandolin like this one.

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Yes, it comes with a safety guard. No, he wasn’t using it. “Kim, can you come in the kitchen a minute please.”

I needed to fetch a first aid kit! Here is the tip of his finger. Sorry if you are squeamish, but I was amazed at the fact I could still see his fingerprint on it. He wrapped it well and continued on with preparing the meal.


We WOULD have a proper Thanksgiving meal, albeit a day late. Jer texted me, “I’m not really comfortable eating the turkey, but I’ll eat the rest of the meal…”

We found this bit of news online:

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Once again, we’d filled the house with the aroma of turkey and once again we could not eat it. We ate the side dishes, minus the squash. I think it ended up with blood on it and was never cooked. The beautiful turkey, a gift my father bought us, was thrown away the next day. Ironically, when we took it to dispose of it, the timer in it had popped up,… but no one wanted to partake. (sarcasm)

Time for our dessert cookies that Jaden and I had made, because we’d eaten the pie for a meal on Thanksgiving the day before. They were hard as a rock for some reason. We couldn’t eat them. I don’t know what we did wrong. After eating the side dishes (with the smell of turkey still teasingly pervading our faces), it was time to get Al to a clinic to treat his finger.

We went to one of those walk-in places that are springing up next to every Dollar Store on every corner, and we sat. And waited. A movie played on the waiting room TV, which was mounted on a wall in front of us. There were a surprising amount of people there on Black Friday (which I myself have never partaken in, by the way.) The movie was one of those Lifetime or Hallmark things and quite insipid. A teenager needed to make a very serious decision: defy her parents and go the Christmas Ball with friends, or… make her mother happy and attend the yearly Church Christmas event. The plot was riveting! (It wasn’t. In no way was it riveting. It was torturous. And predictable.)

After an interminable amount of time there, we finally left for home and I remarked, “You know, both days that we attempted a Thanksgiving meal, we forgot to put out the cranberry sauce.”

Al says, “You’re right. By the way, NO turkey on Christmas.”

I had to agree. I was so over it.

When the power winked off on Thanksgiving, our plans were changed. We all found things to talk about. The next day, when we ate a meal of side dishes, we also talked.

And I decided to watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special I’d recorded. They ( the Peanuts characters) were all quite happy eating popcorn and toast for Thanksgiving. They really were happy.

Jer posted this on Facebook shortly afterwards:


I realized he was right. The meal was one I’d soon forget, nothing memorable. But that Thanksgiving was not forgettable, it’s the one we’ll all remember, oh there was another memorable Thanksgiving I’ll never forget too. It was the year I accidentally put a knife all the way through my hand. It went in through the palm and came out by the knuckles. Jeff, about 12 yrs. old then, put my boots on for me as I was holding a towel on the wound, kind of in shock. Jer was a toddler, and seeing the blood, which was everywhere in the kitchen, (my father cleaned it up while I was at the ER), he remarked in his little boy voice: ” It’s just cranberry sauce! Don’t worry!” But that is not a story for today.




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