We’re in charge of turkeys. There is one in the oven that weighs 25 pounds. Another 13 pounder is in my mother’s Nesco Roaster Oven that I inherited. It hasn’t been used in a while so we looked up the owner’s manual on-line. A rather unhelpful guide, although there is a baked scrambled egg recipe for 50 people if you need it. Both turkeys were brined. A few pounds of innocent citrus fruits were slaughtered and stuffed into the cavities. The brine spilled all over the kitchen and my spouse, soaking her pajamas and flooding a few open drawers. I am Ethel to her Lucy, trying to stay out of it, my arms crossed in front of my chest, rolling my eyes, but willing to lie to Fred and Ricky, willing to cook 38 pounds of turkey for 16 people. Knowing I would never cancel this particular sitcom, because even though it’s not HBO worthy and there are a lot of commercials, it’s still a classic.
7:58 am. The sun is up, the sky a soft blue grey, a few bundled walkers drift by the house on the way to the nearby bike path. I smell like sage and onion and oranges. The kids are still sleeping, the dogs are curled up in delicious dreams and I’m gearing up for coffee, the Macy’s Day Parade and toast with raspberry jam. I am looking more behind than forward. To past years. To fighting with my brothers over the black olives, wearing them on our fingers like Afros. To my mother’s sweet potatoes from a can drowning in syrupy brown sugar and baked until they crack like Spanish roof tiles. To the turkey salt and pepper shakers that stoically appeared for just this day. The ten layer lasagna at the table that I thought was normal Thanksgiving fare until I got to college.
I don’t know what this holiday is really about anymore. One year we wrote things we were thankful for on the back of construction paper leaves and they got read out loud. One year I walked around an empty Boston Common, alone and sad and angry. One year I had an allergic reaction to clementines and my lips swelled to the size of the Macy’s parade turkey.
This year I would like to feel quiet. I would like to see the ocean. I would like to hear my mother’s laugh. I would like to eat olives off my fingers.
I know I won’t get all those things, but we learn to adjust. We move on from Felix the Cat to Spongebob. We have less or more. We are filled to the brim with all we can stand and then we sleep, we get up, we go forward. Sometimes we are grateful. Sometimes we take a breath and say, yes. This is my life. This is my happiness.
Here’s to the turkey. To the green bean casserole. To the droning of football and the last roses in the garden gasping for breath in the crisp fall air. Here’s to all things pumpkin. Here’s to you and your happiness. To the way you celebrate or hide, cherish or doubt. Happy Thanksgiving. Happy moments of thanks.