"It is almost that day. The day where family we see once a year seem to magically re-appear at our doors, bearing a casserole that they claim to be a secret family recipe, or a store-bought pie, which they then proceed to spend the entire dinner convincing people is homemade. It starts with a parade and ends with a nap, with some football thrown in somewhere between the two. Ladies and gentlemen, it is finally time for Thanksgiving.
"In my household, the cooking always starts the day before, so that we could, at least for that day, say that the meal will go perfectly smoothly. The smell of my mother’s apple and bacon stuffing wafts throughout the house, blending perfectly with the pumpkin pie baking in the oven. My mother always made an apple and pumpkin pie, no matter the year or circumstance, it was something I could count on.
"Then comes my job; preparing the showcase of the meal, the turkey. Though I play it off like it is no big deal, deep down I am flipping out, making sure every single bite my family or guests take is perfect. Dry? Better not be, I cooked it to exactly 160 degrees, which is 20 degrees less than what the package said, but I know that turkey is safe, I think, right?
"Now that the turkey is in the oven, unstuffed of course, lined with vegetables to use for the gravy, there is a momentary break. The mashed potatoes have been made, the pies are cool, stuffing is waiting patiently in the refrigerator for its time to enter the hot oven. There will be many other sides, but those are in the hands of the guests that have just began to arrive. Now, it is football time.
"I sit on the couch and turn on the game. From my comfy seat, I watch as my two aunts and mother glide past each other, each finishing their own components for the feast. My grandma is tearing apart rolls that will soon be reheated in the oven, perfect to make thanksgiving sandwiches with a concoction I have been making for as long as I can remember. I almost think about helping, that I should be in there sautéing onions or stirring the pot of giblets that will be used for the gravy. But soon enough it is kickoff. Maybe next year.
"It always seems around halftime of the game when my mother calls me over for dinner. It is my job to take the turkey out of the oven and carve it too, so my work is not complete. It’s all right with me, because the Lions are losing yet again and the Cowboys are winning, yet again. I sit down at the long table, beautifully decorated with small pumpkins, red and orange leaves and two paper turkeys that my brother and I made when we were both in elementary school that always make an appearance each and every year. Like usual, I grab a glass of hot apple cider. Not like usual, I notice the bottle of rum that everyone has been pouring oh-so-generously into their cups and pour a dash of it into my own. I tell myself I’m in charge of the turkey, I deserve it.
"As I sit down in my familiar position on the left side of the table, I ask my aunt next to me to hand me a roll and the butter, just like every year. My mother serves a few slices of turkey (extra skin of course), and asks if I want any gravy. Served in the same gravy boat that has been used for years, the homemade sauce tastes even better.
"Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays and while the delicious food is a large part of that, it was always more than that. I am always looking to explore, especially with food, but Thanksgiving is the one day where the usual is the comforting. The same meal, year after year, yet equally delicious every time. It is often chaotic and it never goes quite as smoothly as I think it will on the Wednesday before, but that’s okay with me, I know the dinner will be wonderful.