Sometimes the perfect Thanksgiving is not the one where everything goes well, but the one where nearly everything goes wrong. This Thanksgiving was pretty much the latter. And as a family, we are deserving of a hearty pat on the back. When I arrive in Santa Clarita, my grand-daughter and Mommy T meet with the news that daughter Kristi’s day began with a migraine headache. She has let her prescription for a migraine medicine run out and with doctor offices closed, we hope that a dark, quiet room will ease the symptoms.
Meanwhile, my daughter-in-law Theresa is holding down the meal preparation by herself. The house is beautifully decorated and the table set with holiday best. Family members, Rev. Pat and her daughter arrive and the Turkey is lifted into the oven. Visiting and enjoying cheese balls and crackers, we wait for Kristi’s headache to subside. It soon became apparent that the migraine is only getting worse and will not subside in time for dinner. In fact, it is very apparent that a trip to the ER for the right medication is essential, and we all leap into action. First, we cut out some dishes that are being prepared. Turkey, dressing, potatoes, and green bean salad will suffice. Theresa gives me the times when each should come out of the oven, and I pray that the food gods will help me remember all the directions. The meat thermometer shows the turkey to be the right temperature for eating, and so we remove the Turkey from the oven earlier than Betty Crocker suggests in her cookbook.
Off Theresa and Kristi went to the ER and Pat and I jump into action. So far the three kids are having so much fun that they failed to realize how hungry they are about to become. Pat and I are a team anyone would be proud of. All the side dishes are coming out of the oven more or less on time; Pat turns to the task of carving the Turkey and my grandson Eric comes into the kitchen for a “before the meal piece of toast”. Waiting for the toast to darken, he watches Pat begin the carving. The breast meat is moist and delicious looking. Then she proceeds to the thigh and drumstick. All three of us gape in horror at the far from ready to serve, drumstick. As Pat expertly starts pulling the bone away from the carcass, Eric screams, “I see blood. There is blood”. We shoo him out of the kitchen, grab a paper plate, and the drumstick goes into the microwave. By this time, the other dishes are ready. No time to put everything into beautiful serving dishes. We serve right from the baking dishes.
Sitting down to eat, we all take the time to be thankful and as tradition dictates, we go around the table, each taking a moment to talk about gratitude. Eric asked a question about the first Thanksgiving and everyone chime in with their versions. Then we discuss the reasons families gather together on Thanksgiving. Pat and I share a loving moment, motivated by our success, and consider ourselves honorary mother and daughter. And so our extended family continues to grow.
The meal over, the children run off to play Hide and Seek. Pat and I begin the task of setting aside plates full of holiday food for Kristi and Theresa; They are on their way home from ER with a much improved, but very exhausted Kristi.
With dessert still on the table, Breaker, the Dachshund, discovers a chair left pushed out, and a quick jump from the chair to the table brings him to a feast that tops his dream list. Glancing over, I see him at the end of the table, face in a dessert bowl of leftover cherry pie hidden under a mound of whipped cream left by one of the kids.
Knowing I should remove the dog from the table, I grab my camera instead and catch the culprit in the act. Finishing the cherry pie, Breaker heads lustily for the pumpkin pie, and I know it is time to set the camera aside and remove the dog from the table. This is no easy task for he is no small dog and I call for Pat’s help. As we remove a reluctant Breaker from the table, I turn around and catch the red Dachshund, Duchess, with a half-eaten cheese ball in her mouth. She is standing on back tiptoes so that her head is just is above the top of the appetizer tray in the living room. The cheese is within easy reach. She responds to my “’No” command and drops the cheese ball on the floor. It is by sheer luck that she has not brought the entire tray of appetizers with her.
Theresa and an exhausted, but pain-free Kristi return. Kristi off to bed, Pat fixes a plate of Thanksgiving delights for Theresa and we regale her with all the stories. Soon it is time for Pat and little Maya to head home. The twins are watching TV in their bedroom. Theresa put a log on the fire, and I curled up on the couch with the Dachshunds. A little the worse for wear, but content and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.
So it wasn’t a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, Yet look at the lessons learned, the laughter shared, the concern given. There is always next year and with God’s blessing, perhaps it will be the perfect holiday, If it is not, we will know it doesn’t matter because we are together. We are family. We are thankful for all we share. Perfect or not so perfect.