Tales of Thanksgiving 2011

I go to bed certain my mom will forget to brine the turkey.

When the call comes at 7:30 a.m. the next morning, I’m already awake, having driven Erin to the airport an hour before. She says, “I really screwed up,” and I know what’s coming. The turkey isn’t brined.

“I forgot to add the preserves to the cranberry sauce and ruined it. Can you go to the store and buy some more?”

Oh. Is that it?


I’m being loud. I’m always loud, especially at my mother’s house. I don’t expect to be shushed. It happens anyway.

“There are people sleeping upstairs.”

People? What people? I have to cook and deal with house guests? This was so not part of the plan. I spend until noon answering questions from a thirteen year old I’ve never met, wondering if it really is too early to start drinking.


Things are going well. There’s a turkey breast in the oven at my grandmother’s, and the full bird in the oven at my mom’s.  My friend Christine comes over to get a glass of wine – her family is having dinner just down the street – and I start to tell her how insane our Thanksgivings usually are.

The oven starts beeping.

And shuts off.

We head down to the garage, flip the breakers to cycle the power and turn the oven back on. A minute later, beeping and shutting off. Again. The turkey only has a half hour left, I think. Just let it go. We can finish it at my grandmother’s if we have to. And cook the stuffing and sweet potatoes there too, somehow. It’ll work.

I stay zen for a full twenty minutes. Then the oven starts working again.


My mom, of course, does not have a meat thermometer. I walk over to my grandmother’s (for the third time) to get one of hers. I bring Christine so she can say hello.  I storm in, say I can’t stick around, grab a thermometer, and bring Christine upstairs to my grandfather for a quick hello.

“Christine,” he says, “I have a picture of your grandmother I wanted to show you, but I haven’t found it yet.”

“We have to go, grandpa.”

“You have to go. Christine can stay.”


We cut the legs and wings off of the turkey and carve only the two breasts.  There are, Hallelujah, compliments and good cheer over the bird. The dinner goes great. Everything, on the whole, has gone great.

Leftovers get packed, and people notice that we never served the wings or legs. One by one, people approach me and say the same thing.

“Next year, why don’t we just cook a turkey breast?”

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3 Responses to Tales of Thanksgiving 2011

  1. Mere says:

    You know, it’s so weird — I didn’t even know you could cook *just* a turkey breast ’til this year, but it turns out it’s the Best. Thing. Ever. Less time, less fuss, and most importantly: NO FUCKING GIBLETS. *God* I hate giblets. And most people act like, “Oh, giblets! Does the turkey have giblets? Are you preparing the giblets?” Fuck NO, I’m not preparing the giblets! The giblets are fucking turkey guts! Why the hell would I cook turkey guts and serve them to people when we have actual *food* to eat? Are we stuck in a Dickens novel? Have we been reduced to having no food except internal organs? So, um… where was I? Right. Turkey breasts are my new favorite Thanksgiving item.

  2. samatwitch says:

    I love wings and drumsticks – or any other bones to chew on – and I prefer dark meat to eat for dinner, but will eat white meat as leftovers in enchiladas, Tex-Mex soup, turkey-broccoli casserole or whatever else I might want to do with it. I also eat the giblets and am always disappointed that the processors don’t usually include the gizzard any more, just heart and liver.

    I’m glad you survived, Eric. ;)

  3. Eric says:

    It’s bad enough ripping the bag of the stuff out of its, um, cavity. This year, I got to watch them be boiled under a film of grey foam for what felt like hours so we could get an extra cup of stock for the gravy. Giblets I can do without. Forever.

    Thanks for the support, samatwitch. I’m glad to have come through intact and without a full meltdown. Just please don’t mention how close Christmas is, ok?

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