Acadia begged me to write another article about Cranberries this year but my infamous cranberry article of 2010 still stands as the last and final exhaustive word on the subject. It includes fun facts for the thanksgiving table like the natives told the Pilgrims what they were calling Crane Berry was actually “Tastes like bitter crap” (If you’re a polite translator imbimi becomes bitter berry) Never say the Wampanoag didn’t have a sense of humor. But instead of fine writing like that you’re going to get nostalgia.
It was one of the revelations of my misspent life that turkeys are quite easy to cook. Sure you can impressively immerse the bird in brine and French it up some. (In French turkey is called La Dinde which comes from poulet d’Inde. Basically chicken from India. Now go win the table conversation) This is a perfectly valid way of cooking especially with a cute smear of flour on the harried chefs nose. Throw it on a rack and cook it for four hours and it tastes just fine without the melodrama.
At our house it would start with the prying out of the giblets and neck. I’ve never defrosted a turkey whether in the sink *Cue screams of the germ phobic* or in the refrigerator *well that’s still frozen Jane?* This is not the cap of the jar of pickles that mom had a perfectly fine gadget for removing but hey men need to feel useful. This was all out war with warm water and words that the children should not hear.
Of course the other part of that is the first year I came home for thanksgiving after a couple of months in the wild I said without thinking: “Pass the F*cking salt.” Those words are reserved for turkey neck removal and Christmas toy assembly. We all had to pretend that those words never passed the sainted lips of Mother. Let me tell you that infrequent use makes the occasion memorable.
The only thing men were entrusted to was to crumble the stuffing bread. I thought this was fun until I was about six. I’d figured out the whole Tom Sawyer fence painting scam early. I would also be volunteered to help make popcorn balls at my grandmothers. For those of you who’ve never had the joy of that it’s like making a snowball by reaching into a scalding hot kettle of caramel mixed with popcorn. To this day I shudder whenever I get butter on my hands. The worst thing was that we never got any till they were horribly stale because that’s the way things work.
Another joy was the way the septic system backing up with the extra load of fifteen people stuffed with food and drink. It would start bubbling up in the shower. Yes my happy memories of thanksgiving include a trash can of **** out of the cellar. Somehow my brother always escaped those chores. It pays to be the baby of the family.
My mother’s family was hard drinking Irish. My father’s family were genuine teetotalers. This meant the one set would be late because they’d stop for a few drinks before coming in order to be polite but still get into trouble because sparkling wine qualified as boozing it up. There would be further scandal as my elderly great aunt and her “roommate” would have a little sip just to be polite. Auntie’s roommate was my favorite guest being totally unrelated to any of the loons in my family and quite a sweet woman who brought me Dennis the Menace books.
Then there was the year my grandmother decided she no longer wanted to bake. Her specialty was squash pies (Which are actually better than pumpkin in my opinion but I bet half of you have never tasted one) Using the excuse of failing eyesight she used pepper instead of cinnamon. My father actually ate two pieces out of loyalty before admitting that they needed to be thrown away.
My parents always told me I’d be hosting the holidays when I was grown up. There’s a very good likelihood that this is the reason I’m single. My life might be a country western song (Go follow the link I dare you) but I enjoy the heck out of a nice peaceful turkey. With the only competition being a small dog that’s sandwiches for weeks.
Happy Holidays folks. Remember you can say that to a rabid conservative at thanksgiving and smirk after the war on Christmas rant then say: “Thanksgiving Putz”