You know how smells often remind you of memories from the past? Well, the smell of turkey dinner and all the fixings reminds me of a day slaving in the kitchens, followed by an evening of indigestion.
I never thought much of Thanksgiving. You know… that special time to give thanks for the fall harvest, and reflect on all things in life one should be grateful for. Don’t get me wrong. I am very thankful for the many blessings in my life, but for as long as I was old enough to do dishes and help in the kitchen, this holiday has never been one I looked forward to.
Having three brothers that never had to help clean and prepare for the feast, I guess you could say I always felt more than irritated about the whole event, and jealous I wasn’t born a boy.
As they lounged around the living room enjoying their day off from school watching pre-football game commentaries and arguing over what teams would be winning the day, I scurried around the kitchen under mothers strict orders to clean this and mix that while my brothers taunted me while moseying through the kitchen during television commercial breaks.
Don't get me wrong, my mama is awesome, and goes out of her way to make everyone happy, but did she really enjoy slaving over a stinking turkey all these years? And what about her mom? Did she get any enjoyment out of it?
I know, I know... I sound a lot like the Grinch, but this day of thanks seems more dedicated to football and turkey, and I don’t like either one!
The dishes were endless, starting early that morning and not ending until late in the afternoon. All the prep bowls and utensils would need to be washed, along with the piles of dirty pots and pans as they were emptied of their contents to fill ceramic serving bowls and chipped serving platters that you would swear wouldn’t all fit on the table. My hands would be wrinkled from hours of soaking in the water before the turkey was even sitting on the table!
Setting the table was another grim endeavor. Lining up plates like a train of dominos around the dinner table, I dressed them up with napkins folded into little triangles for the silverware to lie on, and added all of mom’s hand-made potholders to the center of the table for the entrees. Instead of a table lovingly set for a family to come together in thanksgiving, all I saw was the amount of dishes I would soon be washing.
After dressing the table and collecting extra chairs for seating, I awaited orders to start filling the table with overflowing serving dishes for the big feast.
All the family favorites were accounted for:
· A plate of white meat, and a plate of dark with whole drumsticks on it
· Two kinds of dressing – one with giblets and one without
· Two kinds of cranberries – one a solid gel that came out of a can, and the other real cranberries in sauce
· At least two gravy boats
· A giant bowl of mashed potatoes
· A smaller bowl of sweet potatoes
· Green bean casserole
· Fruit salad
· Two plates of butter
· Two sets of salt and pepper
· A relish tray with both sweet and dill pickles, whole black olives, and the green olives with pimentos
· A plate of green onions rolled in cream cheese and thin slices of ham
· And a raw vegetable tray with dip
Why we had to dirty two dishes for one food item ground me like sand in my underwear. Couldn’t we just pass around the one dish and be done with it? And why couldn’t we just leave the pickles and olives in their jars, for crying out loud?! We usually didn’t have enough room for the relish tray on the table anyway.
Turkey dinner was never a favorite “comfort food” meal for me, like it is for so many other people. Maybe it was the disgust I felt having worked all morning on a meal that took less than five minutes to devour. Maybe it was the awful indigestion and sleepiness I felt after eating turkey. Or maybe it was because I knew I would be spending hours scrubbing piles of dirty dishes after.
And after the meal was done, do you think anyone would remove their plate from the table, kindly scrape any leftovers into the garbage, and rinse their plate so the gravy and mashed potatoes wouldn’t get stuck down like glue? Nope! Instead, the trough remained a pigsty as plops of food dried on plates and dripped between dishes onto the table for more mess to clean.
About now you are probably thinking there is at least one good thing to look forward to on this day of thanksgiving… DESSERT!
Unfortunately, even dessert didn’t make the drudgery worth the time. It seemed that right after the dinner dishes were washed, the dessert plates would be hauled out as the family continued giving thanks by spoiling every other clean dish left in the house. And instead of yummy dessert, I only saw more plates that needed washing, and pans that needed scouring from the baked on glop that had boiled over its edges.
As Thanksgiving Day looms ahead, I am very thankful that times have changed since I was a young girl. For one, I have a dishwasher that can fit most everything in it but the pots and pans. Two, everyone tends to bring a dish to pass, so it’s not all on one or two people to do it all. Three, I can now enjoy cocktails which greatly helps my mood in dealing with dirty dishes and a full day of football games. But the turkey still sucks!
I don’t understand why mom gets so excited about this day of drudgery except that it is nice when everyone gets together. To me, Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday for giving thanks for the fall harvest and other blessings in life. Not for football and a nasty tasting bird that will make you feel like vomiting an hour after you eat one little slice!
Maybe I am just plain ungrateful for Turkey Day. Maybe some day I will regret feeling so bothered by it all. But until that fateful day, I say fuck the turkey and all its fixings! I’d rather have a Big Mac!
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