As we go deeper into the fall season, a holiday I’ve always enjoyed and felt that symbolizes family and gratefulness for what we have to be thankful for arrives at the end of November.
For years, Thanksgiving was either at our house or my Aunt Margaret’s. After our nuptials, we would go to Sharon’s parents or Aunt Joan’s and also we added a trip to my parents’ home. We always had a bountiful feast at every place I have mentioned.
As Sharon and I settled into our lives as a married couple and then parents and home owners, we decided that maybe Thanksgiving could be held at our home once in a while. We did host a couple times in our first home and Sharon delivered a Thanksgiving equal to the ones we had attended before, I must confess.
We moved near Bethel and after a couple of years there, Sharon decided it should be our turn to host and we should invite all members of the family who wanted to come. I agreed and thought this was a good idea to have a lot of family around on the special day of Thanksgiving.
However, I forgot, or had never really helped much before, with preparation for a crowd this size and all of the cleaning and cooking that comes with it. I had greatly underestimated what it took to prepare a Thanksgiving feast.
Sharon did all the shopping and it seemed like Kroger had been bought out. With the food taken care of, the cleaning began, and when I say cleaning, I mean deep cleaning. Not only me, but Sharon and our 12-year-old daughter Meghan and even six-year-old son Brendan were assigned areas that had to be cleaned, so as to be inspected by the lady of the house.
I can’t emphasize just how clean it had to be. It had to be ‘scrub it with a tooth brush clean.’
Brendan was handed a can of Pledge and some rags and his Mom explained to him what she wanted him to do. He started out just fine but the attention span of a six-year-old is short. So Meghan got the balance of the dusting along with cleaning bathrooms and baseboards, much to her objection, but she worked hard on it.
Sharon was working through every room inspecting and finishing what they hadn’t cleaned. Now as for me, I grabbed the vacuum cleaner and all the dirty laundry as I knew these things I could do and be of help. But more jobs seemed to continue to pop up.
As the afternoon sun began to set, Sharon moved into the kitchen and began preparation for side dishes, preparing the fine silverware and china, and setting the main and auxiliary tables up for our company. At around 10:00 p.m. or so, Sharon called me to the kitchen and pointed to the 20-pound frozen turkey that was taking up the bottom rack of our refrigerator. She told me to put it in the utility tub in the laundry room and fill it with tap water so it would thaw.
This is where she made a big mistake and I made an even bigger one. I heard her say ‘water and thaw.’ The clock was heading toward midnight and company would be there by noon the next day. Anybody knows it takes a 20-pound turkey six-to-seven hours to bake. All of the sudden I came up with a great idea. Why hadn’t anybody thought of this? I put the bird in the tub and filled it with the hottest water we had available. I was a genius.
I went about my other chores and kept checking on the turkey. About two hours had passed and the bird was getting soft. I drained the water and filled it up again with hot water and told Sharon she might want to look at the turkey as it was getting close to baking. She laughed and said I really was off on that time. Another hour passed and the turkey was not only pliable but it was also emitting a cooking type aroma. So again I found Sharon and told her it was more than ready as I could smell it. So she went and looked. It was in the early hours of Thanksgiving that I learned why hot water was not to be used.
I also learned late in the night that I had ruined the main dish and symbol of Thanksgiving.
I can’t recall or don’t want to recall a lot of things from that moment. I learned then that Kroger was open 24 hours a day and I was going to get another turkey. So, at 1:30 in the morning, Meghan and I went to Kroger.
Meghan pointed out that “It sure does look empty, Dad.”
We were the only two customers. We found the turkeys and there were the frozen ones and there were fresh unfrozen ones. I asked my daughter which one to buy and she looked up at me and said “as mad as Mom is I would buy both.” I did just as my lovely daughter said and we returned home and delivered the birds to the kitchen.
My wife had calmed down by this time and took one of the turkeys and began preparation. No more was said about my very big mistake. It was then, and only then, I knew I was going to live to see another day.
Come Thanksgiving Day the family showed up and we had the bountiful crowd and many, many side dishes and desserts on a day that was sunny and clear, a perfect setting for the holiday.
Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the gathering as much as they did the turkey that my wife prepared, in spite of my help.
Since that Thanksgiving we have held some others at our home and have gone to other’s homes to enjoy those too, but there isn’t a year that goes by that my two children don’t remind me of the boiled turkey and my cooked goose.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and likes to share his stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.