It’s Thanksgiving Morning. We all do this day differently. Not everyone loves the big, jovial family dinners. Not everyone even wants a big, jovial family. One of my students this week told me that the best Thanksgiving she ever had was spent with her dog, a bottle of champagne, and a box of chocolates. There are years when that’s what I want. Some years, I wouldn’t mind the big, jovial family. This year I am thankful for my neighbor Gwen and the tradition that has evolved between us ever since she stopped thinking she had to get on a plane for the holiday.
I am especially thankful because I’ve been ill for the last two weeks and but for Gwen, I might have needed to order in that box of chocolates. We started confabbing about it last week. Gwen volleyed the idea of getting everything from Smokin’ Petes.
“It’s our chance to really be lazy,” she said.
Smokin’ Petes was considered somewhat on the weight of their key lime pies. We wanted pumpkin pie but if the key lime pie at Smokin’ Petes was good, the pumpkin was bound to be as well. I liked the idea of a good pie but I don’t care for smoked turkey.
“Why don’t you get what you want from them along with the pie and I’ll scrounge a dinner from PCC or something?” This sounds self-pitying but at the time I didn’t feel —OK, it was self-pitying. At the time I remember thinking that by the day before Thanksgiving I might feel like crawling into the car and going to PCC.
But when Gwen went shopping she came back with the announcement that she had bought a turkey and a pumpkin pie from QFC.“That way,” she said, “We can carbo load on my stuffing.”
I must pause here to note that this is what Thanksgiving comes down to with us no matter how many alternative ideas are floated. Gwen does the turkey and (traditional) stuffing and she gets all the leftovers. I do a vegetable and the cranberries. We negotiate for the dessert.
Usually I do my mother’s Celery Almondine but this year I am roasting yams, carrots and cranberries. It’s amazing how sweet the root vegetables taste up next to the tart cranberries. It’s easy and can be done while wearing surgical gloves and a respirator mask.
Yesterday afternoon, Gwen relayed the information that she had tasted the pie and it was awful. “I knew I shouldn’t have bought one,” she said. “I don’t like store bought pies. I like the ones I make.”
This was gloomy news indeed.
“I have organic pumpkin over here,” I said. “If you want to make one.”
“No, I don’t want to have sugar in the house.”
“I can supply the requisite sugar.”
“Well you could make it if you want to but it’s harder starting with just the pumpkin. I need Libby pumpkin pie filling. I add more spices with the eggs and milk.”
“I suppose I could make it.” Whine, whine. “But I don’t have the eggs.” Or enough respirator masks. “Listen, If I get you a can of Libbys pumpkin pie filling, will you make the pie?”
“OK, if you do that, I’ll make the pie. I can scrape out the filling from this QFC one because their crust is really good.”
Nina (rhymes with Dinah) picked me up for OK Chorale rehearsal. “You can think about for the next two hours,” I said. “But will you run me by Fred Meyer on the way home so I can get a Libby pumpkin pie filling for Gwen?”
Nina said immediately that she would take me to Fred Meyer on the way home. Then almost as a reward for her selflessness, she remembered that she had forgotten to buy cranberries for her dinner but could now do it at Fred Meyer.
“I was at Ballard Market with about a billion other people today,” she said. “I decided I wanted a small turkey for the weekend so we could have leftovers.” (Ah, the leftovers.) “But the only small turkey they had left was an organic one, somebody’s pet”—she practically spit out the word—“for $35. Thirty-five dollars for a ten pound turkey! And someone had the nerve to tell me that the pricy organic ones aren’t always any better. I didn’t need to hear that.”
After Chorale rehearsal Nina and I followed a billion other people into Fred Meyer. The first thing I saw were cans of Farmer’s Market organic pumpkin filling with a BPA free lining. “Wow,” I thought. “Even better!” I grabbed two.
My alternative angel got to me before I got to the cash register. “Libby,” it said. “Libby. You aren’t making the pie, remember? Gwen is.”
Nine o’ clock last night I called Gwen. “I’m coming over with the Libbys,” I said.
“I’ve scraped out the QFC filling,” she said.
We’re such a team.
My other contribution to the day was the movie. I have waited 15 years for “A Midwinter Tale” to come out on DVD. I ordered it with the hope it would arrive in time for Thanksgiving. It’s the story of a bunch of out-of-work actors who bring their quirks and egos together to put on a benefit performance of Hamlet.
It’s particularly timely for me because one of the things I did during my two weeks of being sick was watch Hamlet six times. I watched the David Tennant performance for the first time and liked it so much, I watched it again. Then I decided to re-watch the Kenneth Branagh performance which up until I saw David Tennant, had been my favorite. Then I watched The Kenneth Branagh with audio commentary. After that I had to re-watch David Tennant and when I still hadn’t gotten enough of it, I watched the David Tennant with audio commentary.
We all have our quirks. It’s nice to have a holiday that supports them. And now I need to get to those yams. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!