Monday, November 21, 2011


The smell of roasting turkey, all day.

1 turkey, 2 pans of hot yeast rolls, 3 cousins dressed like Pilgrims, 4 kinds of cranberry sauce, 5 resin turkeys on the piano, 6 casseroles, 7 people in my family, 9 guests, 10 pies. 1 prayer before eating, 1 walk around the block after eating, 1 big bowl of whipped cream, 1 bowl of nuts, 2 nutcrackers, 2 tables (adult & kid), 2 football games, 2 bottles of wine (red & white),  3 games of pinochle.

We  had to stay out of the kitchen, all day. Some years we went out to camp for a lunch of oyster stew. We bundled up in coats, hats, and gloves, and sat near the roaring woodstove. We wandered outside, admiring the wet ground, bare trees, and cold grey pond. Then back to the stove, gloves off now, slurping hot creamy stew: crackers floating between the oily bubbles. Oysters: chew or swallow?

Back home. Dad watched football. He ran to the kitchen during commercials to baste the browning bird.

We dressed up, a little. Family and guests gathered. We set out bowls of nuts, olives, and carrot sticks in the living room. We set the table with linen, place cards, candles, goblets, good china, and silver. Napkin and fork on the left, knife and spoon on the right.

It was hot in the kitchen: oven and woodstove. Cold in the living room with football and snacks. Just right in the dining room between.

Kids ran, tumbled, and squealed. They banged on the piano. Relatives scooped them up for a quick squeeze. Men watched football and talked languidly in the living room. Women prepared vegetables, refilled wineglasses, and laughed in the kitchen.

Dinner. Turkey: dark or light meat? Who gets the wishbone? Make a wish. Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant parmesan, cinnamon rolls, broccoli, and green bean casserole. Yeast rolls, creamed onions, rice, and stuffing. Homemade pickles.

We all ate too much. So we bundled up again and went out; walked. It was dark and sometimes snowing. Our faces got cold. We walked until we shook the food down enough. Enough for dessert. We poured heavy cream into the mixer and turned it on. Add a pinch of sugar and a few drops of vanilla. Serve the pies. What's your favorite? Apple, cherry, pumpkin, rhubarb, mince, pecan, or blueberry? Chocolate? Glob on the whipped cream. Thought you were full before?

Then TV, card games, and talk of politics and travel.