This year, we went to New York City for Thanksgiving: it was pretty much the usual gang of idiots, just in Manhattan instead of New Haven. My parents were there, my brother and his family, my aunt and uncle, my cousin and his family. We were all happy to see each other. We had a fabulous meal, in my aunt and uncle’s apartment. The meal was prepared by my cousin and his wife, people who know their way around a kitchen and who are able to plan a Thanksgiving dinner, long-distance, with extraordinary skill.
We went to New York mid-morning, on the train; we hung around the apartment for a few hours; we ate ourselves into a stupor; and then we staggered back to Grand Central Station, dozing most of the way home. When we got back to our apartment, we cracked open the Ziploc bag of leftover smoked turkey that we’d been given as a parting gift, and made sandwiches. “This is really good,” we all agreed, “but it’s too bad we don’t have leftovers of the other stuff.”
So it was that at eleven o’clock on Friday morning, we could be found at our local butcher’s counter, buying a ten pound turkey to take home and roast. While I chatted with Jimmy about the turkey — Jimmy and I had talked earlier in the week, and he knew the odds were pretty good I’d be coming in to buy a small turkey come Friday — my husband collected the other items we needed. A loaf of semolina bread, celery, onions, to use in the stuffing; some green beans, because everyone agreed we’d want a green vegetable. We bought more eggs, so I could make corn pudding, and my husband added some russet potatoes so he could mash them. My daughter threw a bag of potato chips. When I protested, “Why the hell do we need potato chips, if we’re about to cook all this food?” she said, “But I need a snack!” So we bought the potato chips.
We got home, turned on the oven, and immediately got to work. My husband and I don’t exactly work seamlessly together in our kitchen, but we do pretty well. We managed to get the stuffing assembled within 40 minutes or so (long sautéing of celery and onion, then quick combining with bread cubes, dried cranberries, parsley, and some beef stock we had sitting around) and the turkey was in the oven by 12.30. All afternoon we worked in fits and starts. We had to take breaks to take care of other pressing matters (there was a movie to return to the video store, for one thing; and our daughter’s little friend who came over to play needed a snack, and I needed to tell my daughter, after the little friend left, that if she didn’t clean her room she wasn’t going to get a bedtime story), but we were all seated at the dining table at 6.45, which is pretty much when we normally sit down to eat.
In the end, we were too exhausted from cooking to want to bother trimming and cooking the green beans. “Do we need to have the green beans tonight?” I asked. “Screw it,” said my husband. “We’ve got plenty of brown food here.” And we were gluttons. There were mashed potatoes done with sour cream and butter. There was turkey, which my husband had complained looked overdone, but which tasted wonderful and didn’t seem overdone to me at all. There was corn pudding, which my husband said was the best corn pudding I’d ever made (possibly because I messed up and used four eggs instead of three, but we’ll never know). There was the bread stuffing, which was a little bland to my taste, but which was still very satisfying. And there was gravy, which is my husband’s enterprise entirely — I refuse to have anything to do with it — and for once, he didn’t complain about it being wrong.
We ate and ate and ate and then we cleared the dishes and cleaned up and we were only a little sad that I hadn’t gotten around to making a dessert. “What we really need is a chocolate chess pie,” my husband observed. “I could make one tomorrow,” I suggested. But the weekend has come and gone. I haven’t made that chess pie. But we have eaten most of the leftovers. It feels pretty good. We had our Thanksgiving and ate it, too.