Of Friends and Frozen Turkeys I Sing

Thanksgiving turkey

My friends are more talented in the kitchen than I am. Thanks, Kate.

This year, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about Thanksgiving. It’s the first anniversary of the death of my friend Jean in a hiking accident. I thought the memory might taint what is usually my favorite holiday.

But it won’t.

For many years, I’ve spent Thanksgiving with friends rather than family. I won’t dwell on the reasons — death, distance, disaffection, various combinations thereof. The cast of characters often changes, expands or contracts. The scene shifts too but in recent years, I’ve mostly hosted the meal. And in the last decade, with the exception of 2013, when I said good-bye to my dog Frankie, there’s been a canine component to the occasion.

What's not to be thankful for with these guests?

What’s not to be thankful for with these guests — returning to dinner this year

I spent 45 minutes on the phone today reminiscing with my friend Martha about a Thanksgiving we had in the 1970s. She and I and two other friends who are still in touch all worked for a science publisher, Plenum. One year, the company started giving each of its employees a frozen turkey. We didn’t get Christmas bonuses later, just turkeys — which, Martha suggested, probably fell off the back of a truck.

The birds were big — at least 20 pounds, if I recall correctly. The first year, I volunteered to cook my Plenum turkey in my tiny New York apartment with its tiny oven and have everyone over. It wasn’t until my friends were already there that I discovered the turkey was too large for my oven and its door wouldn’t close. That was okay, I assured them. I would just turn the turkey around when it was done on one side; it would be fine.

I waited about two hours to rotate the turkey and then another two hours after that. The bird was still raw inside. I guess closing the oven door completely is important.

So it wasn’t fine, but we didn’t care. We’d had plenty to eat and drink by then. We still laugh about it almost 40 years later.

I’ve always had friends who can laugh about a cooking disaster, who don’t care if my dishes and glasses don’t match, if my house doesn’t pass the white glove test (or, since I now have a white dog, the black glove test).

I know I never have to worry about spending the day with a creepy uncle, an aunt with awful politics. I chose this surrogate family; all its members are sympatico. I can — and do — declare my home a Donald Trump-free zone.

There are plenty of days of the year to lament the loss of family and friends, including Jean. As a tribute to her, I decree that Thanksgiving is never going to be one of them.

 

 

 

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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

4 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Sharon says:

    Happy Thanksgiving dear friend!

  2. Kate Kaemerle says:

    It’s the unexpected moments we remember most. Such as Madeleine’s first Thanksgiving at your house and her love of salami 🙂

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