This year we’re packing up the minivan and heading over the river and through the woods to my mother’s house, 400 miles away from my own kitchen. I am a bit worried, however, about the differences of opinion that will undoubtedly surface over Mom’s brand-new stove. To stuff or not to stuff? Low heat or high? Potato masher or electric mixer?
For the past several years, I’ve hosted Thanksgiving dinner, which I enjoy tremendously. I spend weeks planning the menu, making my to-do lists and schedules, and strategizing my shopping trips.
When the day dawns, I tape my lists and recipes to my kitchen cabinets, put on an apron and get to work. I never get to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade, but it doesn’t bother me too much. I’m the Queen of the Kitchen, and I revel in my royal role.
This year will be different, though. We’re packing up the minivan and heading over the river and through the woods to my mother’s house, 400 miles away from my own kitchen.
Undoubtedly the Queen Mum is thankful she isn’t the one to make the trip this year, as she gets nervous about snow, deer, state troopers and traffic from the moment she turns out of her driveway. She made a royal proclamation in September that she wasn’t coming and followed it up last month with the purchase of a brand new stove.
She means business, and this year, instead of getting her oil checked and finding her AAA card, she’s thinking about seasoning the turkey, choosing the side dishes and baking more pies than we possibly can eat.
Although it’s a change for us, I’m looking forward to the trip. Memories of my childhood Thanksgivings float before my eyes like steam from a gravy boat. Back then, I didn’t give much thought to preparing dinner, choosing to watch the famous parade and taking occasional breaks to pinch pumpkin bread or icicle pickles from the table.
My family wasn’t the sporting type, so no one ran a Turkey Trot or bundled up to watch a football game in the morning. We kids lolled about, oohing and aahing at the balloons and floats on TV. Sometimes we’d go play in the snow or start our Christmas lists, but for the most part, we spent a relaxing day enjoying the yummy smells coming from the kitchen.
Now, of course, I realize those yummy smells don’t spontaneously occur, and I will be doing my part to help create the feast we’ll all enjoy that day. I am a bit worried, however, about the differences of opinion that will undoubtedly surface over Mom’s brand-new stove. To stuff or not to stuff? Low heat or high? Potato masher or electric mixer?
In my kitchen, it would be stuff, use high heat and do the mash. In the Queen Mum’s opinion, however, stuffing a turkey is a ticket to the emergency room from food poisoning, high heat is dangerous, and mashed potatoes are best when they’re whipped.
In the family castle, the house always wins, so we’ll do things Mom’s way. Her cooking made my first 20-odd Thanksgivings wonderful, and although I do things differently now, it will be nice to be taken back to the days when Thanksgiving mostly meant a day off from school and an excuse to have more than one dessert.
I may try to smuggle my potato masher past the castle walls, but if I’m found out, I’ll nonchalantly toss it back in my suitcase and sneak a piece of pumpkin bread as I drift by the table. Maybe I’ll even sit down and watch the parade.
Julie Fay writes for the Patriot Ledger. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.