Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Turkey Tale

Surely, this tale will someday be re-made into a Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated Christmas special.


Growing up in a small family with only my mom and dad, and no real extended family, I always longed for an opportunity to have a Thanksgiving with lots of people around the table. In my minds eye, I envisioned  the whole Norman Rockwell scene of the long table with nice china and everything sparkling. It was not until I found my birth family and met the man who would be my husband that I could fulfill my dreams of formal in-home dining.

I now had formal dining room and a large 1957 range called "The Liberator" (It was called the Liberator, because it had a dual oven. One oven was large enough for a 28 pound turkey and the other was great for side dishes. Women's lib, baby!)  All I needed to do is invite our newly formed family for our first formal Thanksgiving. We invited my mom and dad, my fiance's mom and dad, and my birth father and his wife-to-be. There was a 28 pound turkey, which I got up at 4am to wrestle it into the oven. Wrestling with a 28 pound turkey is like wrestling with a toddler, I was over my head, but I was not going to be defeated. As daylight broke, I called my parents, my mother-in-law-to-be, and my birthfather for advise on how to cook the turkey as this was my first. To my alarm, everyone told me different temps and technques. Then, the chef on the radio told me something else. I must have changed the temperature several times, turned it over, and wrapped and unwrapped it in the next few hours. The amazing thing the turkey turned out to be the perfect turkey and the entire dinner impressed everyone. Psyche! My pride and confidence swelled. I could do this at will. Soon, Martha Stewart would be calling me for tips.

A couple of years later I organized a Christmas dinner, but had to schedule it on Christmas eve because my birthfather preferred that day. There were no worries since I was a pro already. Christmas eve came and I was more than organized. Everything was beautiful. Everyone was there except my birthfather and his now wife. I didn't worry because they had a two hour drive and sometimes he runs late. The food was done and everyone was ready to sit down for food. Finally, I gave him a call.

Brrrring. Brrrring.
Dan: Hello
Me: Hello...
Dan: Are we still on for tomorrow for dinner?

Of course, I said yes, not wanting him to feel bad. There was no time for them to get here today and I wanted him and his wife to come over. We started the days dinner without them, and my mind raced. What will we do tomorrow. We couldn't give them leftovers. Somehow I need to find a fresh turkey on Christmas day and create an entire meal from scratch, while already having leftovers from the first meal. Can I make two Christmas dinners within 24 hours?


We woke early on a chilly Christmas morning in San Francisco. Calling around we found there was a small grocery store open not too far from Sutro tower. Taking a deep breath we went in. I found the refrigerated section and found a turkey tucked in. Gasp! Oh, Turkey Gods, I feel your warm hug! Lifting and hugging the turkey, I made my way to the register. The clerk acknowledged me and saw that I had the last turkey and ask, "Oh, are you the person who called about the turkey?"

If I were not desperate and crazed to have every Christmas meal be perfect, I would have done the noble thing and admit that I was not the one who called. As I said, I was in desperation. I had spent most of the night before imagining disaster of not having a fresh turkey. Those imagined looks of masked disappointment of having leftovers were too much for me. Before my noble self would discern the immorality of taking of a turkey promised to another, I said, "Yes, thank you."

I said it. A flush of shame warmed my face in the chilly air as I carried it to our car. There were thoughts of another family who would go without a turkey this year because of us. There they were with sad, hollowed out eyes as they were told the turkey was already claimed. Sighing heavily, I was resolute to accept the karmic retribution that would surely come from claiming someone else's turkey. I had no choice. My birthfather absentmindedness had forced my hand. In times of crisis, people make difficult moral choices that they wouldn't in less demanding times. Sophie's Choice!  In my head, I imagined I was in some sort of Stalingrad during World War II having to find food for my family. We became the family with hallowed eyes frantically searching for food as bombs fell in the snowed in city.

Mistakes were made, but a second Christmas dinner in 24 hours was achieved. It only took the sacrifice of my dignity and integrity. The End.

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