Turkey trauma: Me, myself and my memories…

Am I the only one on American soil who isn’t thankful for Thanksgiving? The turkey cooks my goose every year as I anticipate the fun-filled day of planning, preparing, cooking, coordinating, jostling, juggling, and otherwise stressing and strategizing  to make the perfect Thanksgiving feast.

As I’ve attempted before.

With fear and trembling. Of course. Thanksgiving is definitely about me, myself, and memories of my turkey traumas — or dramas.

While roasting a turkey makes me fret, my friends and casual acquaintances uniformly declare the bird the easiest thing to prepare and would far prefer to prepare it than all the side dishes that go with it.

“Just pop it into the oven,” they say. “You can’t go wrong with turkey.”

Well, you can. Or I can, anyway.

Since I married into a husband and four children 21 years ago, I have been resigned to remaining at home for the Thanksgiving holiday. That means I have been responsible for preparing the Thanksgiving beast — a turkey and all the fixin’s — for that many years as well.

apple pie
Turkey roasting is as easy as apple pie? I doubt I’ve ever been proud enough of a turkey to photograph it, but check out this apple pie I made.

The first year — when Thanksgiving came within a week of our wedding — I was saved by my husband’s forethought in ordering a pre-cooked meal from the local grocery store. For a number of years thereafter, we ordered a smoked turkey from a nearby restaurant. And then somewhere along the way, I got roped into actually cooking the bird myself.

“Crab legs?” I always suggest as a fresh option for our Thanksgiving meal.

“Turkey,” says the man.

For heaven’s sake, we can stand in line at the Cracker Barrel for turkey on Thanksgiving — and leave the dirty dishes on the table. Priceless.

It’s not that I dislike turkey or Thanksgiving, really. I love the aroma of turkey cooking in the oven; I love the sides, the excuse to bake pie after pie, the gathering of family and friends, and the anti-fatigue mats I purchased at the Home Depot a few years back. I love cleaning the house in preparation for guests and creating festive decor for the dining room table. I love the compliments, the all-hands-on-deck attitude at clean-up time, the lingering of company trying to get hungry enough to enjoy a sliver of this pie and that pie with just a dollop of whipped or ice cream…

It’s just the turkey trauma. I am anatomically challenged, apparently. One year, as the turkey neared completion,  I couldn’t figure out where to place the thermometer to check. My turkey didn’t look like the turkeys in the photos. My husband thought me ridiculous — and then saw that I’d cooked the bird upside down.

“The meat will be stewed!” he steamed.

I went through the motions, preparing the bird for the table, and then shut myself in the bathroom for a good cry before declaring I would never, ever roast a turkey again.

The next year my husband asked me to cook the turkey upside down because he’d never tasted such juicy, tender breast.

Go figure.

Most years I become Calamity (Sara) Jane when it comes time to cook turkey. Most memorable was the year I overdid the organization. The eve of turkey trauma, I planned where each casserole dish would fit in the oven and placed the non-perishable ingredients for each in the dish as a marker to remind me, for instance, that the “green bean casserole goes here.” The next day I preheated the oven for this paltry poultry, struggled with stuffing and bagging the beast, and stopped when I heard an explosion in the oven.

Could my wish have come true? Did my oven break to save me from cooking a turkey dinner? No. The explosive sound was my cans of mushroom soup popping their lids (and spraying) throughout the oven. I’d unwittingly preheated the oven — with my carefully planned casserole dishes, their ingredients, and the wicker baskets in which they rested. I surreptitiously carried the burnt baskets and cans to the back porch, threw the baskets away, salvaged as much soup as I could, cleaned the oven, and proceeded as if it never happened.

(My favorite year was when our oven did break and we were forced to buy an electric roaster to cook the turkey. Expectations were low, and I was good with that. Unfortunately, we had a new oven the following year.)

Tomorrow, my husband, who is insisting on adding clams and clam juice to the stuffing, is going to help me with the turkey.

“Really,” I said to him this morning before I left for work, “I don’t know why I worry so much about cooking the blasted turkey. After all, if it’s dry, we always have gravy. And if that fails, we have the ham you bought.”

(Always good to have a backup plan.)

Tomorrow’s only a day away. Pray for me and my kitchen.

NaBloPoMo_1115_465x287_THEME

Posts for NaBloPoMo 2015:

  1. Why I love my hairstylist…
  2. To NaBloPoMo or not to NaBloPoMo? That is the question…
  3. No AC November…
  4. That dubious gift of an hour…
  5. I can’t wait to be discovered…
  6. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…
  7. Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…
  8. When you replace people with possessions…
  9. Do what you know is right…
  10. When your eyes are bigger than your weekend…
  11. Attempting “The Glad Game”…
  12. When the Christian life is a bit too much like a political debate…
  13. Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…
  14. How our Mitsubishi van became blue…
  15. If she only knew…
  16. When everything feels like straw…
  17. Construction criticism (or where have all the detours gone?)…
  18. Don’t skimp on the showers…
  19. My surprise “happily ever after” …
  20. In fact, we are not entitled…
  21. The end of the twin era…
  22. More time is not always the answer…
  23. When furniture shows your age…
  24. If a gift falls in the forest…
  25. Turkey trauma: Me, myself, and my memories…

2 thoughts on “Turkey trauma: Me, myself and my memories…

  1. I hope all goes well with the bird this year….I have dealt with this holiday for many years, but now at this ripe old age, it’s someone else’s problem, so hang in there and the youngsters will take over one of these days, but frankly think you would have to give Laura some lessons……just sayin’. Regardless have a Happy Thanksgiving and fill them up with caramel brownies if all else fails….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me, too! I think my mother ended up cooking the turkey until she was well into her 70s, so I likely have a few years left as the queen turkey cooker. Laura? I think Jim might end up being the next kitchen boss, but we will see. Good idea about the caramel brownies… they can cover a multitude of failures in the kitchen. 🙂 Love you! Have a blessed day!

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