One minute after Halloween is over I start thinking about the holiday I truly love . . . Thanksgiving. No stress, no hassles, just a great meal with family and friends, all tied together with a thankful heart. At least that’s the way I thought of Thanksgiving until about six years ago when I got promoted from a guest who brings a cake, to the chief cook who prepares the meal. Others help here and there, but the main items, including Tom Turkey, are left up to me.
Being able to cook a good, moist turkey is similar to the ability to sew. It tends to skip a generation. Why should little Martha Mae learn to make her own clothes when her mama (Mary Mae) is the best seamstress in the county? Years later, when Mama Mary Mae is gone, Martha Mae realizes she doesn’t even know how to thread a needle. That’s when Martha Mae’s daughter Minnie Mae steps in and learns to sew. See? It skips a generation.
That’s what has happened with the Thanksgiving meal in our family. Grandmother always roasted a giant turkey plus all the trimmings that fed our rowdy crowd. My own mother had never cooked a bird that big in her entire life. She, along with the other daughters, showed up with a few side dishes and enough desserts to fill a separate table. When Granny passed on to the heavenly side of Thanksgiving, my mother realized that not only had she never cooked a turkey, but didn’t even own a roasting pan that big. “I think I’d be a nervous wreck trying to cook a turkey!” she told me with a sad little look on her face.
The first year with no home-cooked bird, I think we bought a turkey from the youth group down at The First Karaoke Church, where they were deep frying them in the parking lot to raise funds for a new big screen TV, but Daddy said he favored a more traditional protestant bird, so after that, it was left up to me to figure out how to cook the fowl.
What I have going for me that my mother is still learning to navigate, is the know-how of using the internet to teach myself anything. Cousin Rosie Belle from Robertsdale taught herself how to ballroom dance in only two weeks by watching reruns of Bobby and Cissy on the Lawrence Welk YouTube channel. So, taking a hint from her, I grabbed my laptop and typed in, “How to cook a turkey” and good-gosh almighty, 40-gazillion videos came up for my viewing pleasure. I poured myself a glass of traditional protestant juice, put my feet up and within a few hours, was an expert who was ready to roast a Thanksgiving turkey.
My very first turkey came out so juicy and delicious that now, I not only cook one in November, but I also pop one in the oven whenever they go on sale at the Piggly Wiggly. It’s now a year-round dish in our home, and with teenage boys in the house, a giant pan of roasted meat and gravy doesn’t last long.
But something’s been nagging me, and doesn’t quiet add up. My mother is a great cook, which leads me to believe she may have just been calculating this Thanksgiving side-step all along. Could she have really premeditated such a devious plan to let Grandmother host Thanksgiving for the first 40 years, then, when the pendulum swung, claim not to have the know-how nor an adequate pan, so I would assume the task?
While I’m running around my kitchen the day before Thanksgiving, wrestling with a 22-pound fowl, I’ll bet my mama is home with her feet propped up and a glass of traditional protestant juice of her own.
Martha Mae and my mother are both very clever pilgrims
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My column, “Southern with a Gulf Coast Accent” can be found in these fine newspapers: The Courier, The Foley Onlooker, The Islander, The Baldwin Times, The Independent, and The Sumter Item in South Carolina.
THIS WEEKEND IN FAIRHOPE: Friday night, join the Downtown Merchants for the Holiday Stroll. Businesses will be open for you to party, shop and stroll beneath the beautiful downtown lights.Â
SATURDAY: Movie in the streets- Come in your P.J.’s with blankets and chairs to watch a giant presentation of Polar Express!Â
SUNDAY: Downtown Open House – 1:00-5:00. Shop early while downtown shops offer refreshments and holiday music.Â
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