Diapers and Dragons

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Redux

The first time I ever attempted a turkey, I nearly destroyed my downstairs neighbors' apartment.

Eight years ago, ComputerDaddy and I had just moved into a nice apartment not far from where I began teaching, and I decided to host Thanksgiving for the first time. This meant I was In Charge of the turkey.

So I bought a turkey, guessing madly at how large of one I would need for five people (TM and CD + CD's mother and sister and sister's boyfriend). I also guessed madly at how long it would take to defrost said turkey. I mean, how long could it take? I gave it a day in the fridge.

When I woke that morning and pulled the massive turkey out of the fridge, it was rock hard. Not all was lost, however, as I still had hours and hours before people arrived. So I placed the turkey in the sink, still in its wrapper, and ran warmish water over it. Since this was no doubt going to take a while, and I had no concept of water conservation at that time, I left the turkey, water, and sink in this state and went off to do Other Important Things.

Some unknown time later, as I puttered about my bathroom, turkey completely forgotten, I heard a great hammering on the door and my neighbor's voice shouting unintelligibly through it. I rushed to the door, and a panicked Angelique cried, "Turn it off! Turn the water off!"

The turkey had, as large objects will do, settled in the sink and plugged the drain quite nicely. The water had continued to run. My kitchen floor was a pool, the carpet into the dining area was noticeably darker and squishier, and the water had started seeping through Angelique's walls in her kitchen directly below mine.

It's a good thing she already liked me.

Thanksgivings have been much less dramatic since then and have, generally speaking, run much more smoothly. Until this last one.

ComputerDaddy and I woke with the kidlets and began a leisurely morning preparing for guests. My sainted parents had come over the day before while we were at work and done most of the deep cleaning that was desperately needed, so we just had the floors, some decluttering, and decorating to do. I had a nagging feeling as I made a late-morning run to pick up a few things along with the required Starbucks peppermint mochas that perhaps I had forgotten something. But what could it be? People weren't arriving until 12:30 or so, we weren't eating until around 3, and I wasn't responsible for nearly as much food as usual this year. And I'd already picked up a new tablecloth and napkins, so I didn't have to iron an old one.

After we finished sweeping and mopping and vacuuming and such, we attempted to add two additional leaves to the table. This is when things began to Go Wrong. I did not have the strength to help ComputerDaddy convince the stubborn leaves to fit properly, so we would have to wait for my father to arrive. So no pre-arrival table decorations. I couldn't find the candles I thought I had in storage for the candelabra in the living room. My parents arrived, and as I led them into the house, I looked at the clock. Nearly 1 pm. And it hit me.

I hadn't touched the turkey. It was still sitting in the refrigerator, and I had meant to get it out early as I had also forgotten to transfer it from the freezer early enough and it had only had about 28 hours to defrost. And it was NOT roasting in the roaster as it should have been for a good hour or so already.

Let me shorten this tale for you. Picture, if you will, the following:

1. TeacherMommy wailing and gnashing her teeth as she runs warm water over a turkey with only the slightest trace of defrosted flesh on the outer surface.
2. TM, again with w. and g. of t., trying desperately to tug those $%*#@ bags of giblets that the sadistic poultry companies think should be stored in the turkey's body cavities out of a mostly-frozen carcass.
3. TM snarling at ComputerDaddy and her father as they hover and try to Fix It for her.
4. TM finally dominating the giblets, which are thrust aside disdainfully. The (thankfully medium-sized) turkey is placed in a baking dish and shoved within the (thankfully large) microwave to defrost for a FULL HOUR.
5. CD whisking TM out of the house on a fruitless quest for possible alternatives at Meijer should the turkey go All Wrong; also to pick up the cranberry sauce that TM had forgotten and to get more Starbucks drinks in an effort to Calm Down.
6. TM becoming even more despondent upon her return to the house when she realizes that (a) now ComputerDaddy's sister and (different) boyfriend will not be able to stay for dinner, since it will be around 6 instead of 3; and (b) her new tablecloth looks like a napkin on the newly enlarged table, and the sadly wrinkled tablecloth from bygone years must be used instead.
7. TM becoming resigned to disaster when the sweet potatoes are left on too long and splatter into mush when poured into the strainer. Her famous candied sweet potato casserole must now add the adjective "pureed."
8. TM throwing her arms into the air when she realizes that she has completely forgotten to take the forlorn giblets and make her lovely, smooth, gourmet giblet gravy that was the third item on her short list of (three) food items to prepare.

And here is why I am thankful, so thankful, despite it all. The turkey roasted swiftly, once defrosted, in the wonderful time-saving, oven-freeing electric roaster that my beloved mother-in-law gave me several years ago. It emerged juicy and perfect. Everyone agreed that that the sweet potatoes were even better pureed--my brother, who was a lone hold-out in the sweet potato worship in bygone years, actually ate two helpings. My wonderful father whipped up a lovely gravy with only the drippings and some flour in a fraction of the time I would have spent.

ComputerDaddy's pumpkin pie was a lovely, perfect ending to a lovely, perfect meal. My mother and sister and brother and I sang Christmas carols as we cleaned up afterwards; the kidlets went to bed late but happy with the assistance of their beloved grandpa; I chatted with my mothers over pie and coffee as the (grown-up) children raced each other in Wii MarioKart. I am blessed beyond measure, and for this I am thankful.

And next year I will conquer the turkey once again.

4 bits of love:

Kathleen said...

It sounds like you saved Thanksgiving after all! Glad to hear it was a happy one after all! :-)

LoriM said...

I LOL'd!! Good going, Marisa!! I'm 49 years old and have never hosted Thanksgiving dinner!

Anonymous said...

And yes, it was a day to be thankful for each other and all the good things to eat and drink together, and carols to sing, and life to celebrate! (And we all know life has its panic attacks as well as its smooth rides.) I LOVED spending Thanksgiving with you and yours. TM's Mom.

Heidi said...

Sounds a little like the year when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with Ciaran, was nauseated, exhausted, and the inside of the turkey was RAW (but the leg was at the right temperature, by golly!) when I'd cooked it for the recommended time. Let it sit for a half an hour only to realize that it was RAW...and all my guests got their dinners a couple of hours late.

I almost broke down. You did MUCH better than I did :)

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