This was the first Thanksgiving that I spent away from home. Since neither my partner nor my roommate could go home for the break, they convinced me to stay and have Thanksgiving with them at Lycoming College.
We saved up for weeks then went to the store and got bags upon bags of food for Thanksgiving day. We had divided the parts of the meal up between us and I decided that I had seen my mother cook the turkey enough times that I could do it myself.
I called home at least five times for help.
Nineteen years of listening to my mom tell me how to cook the turkey just went right out the window when I pulled the completely frozen turkey from the fridge. Mom, with a level head as always, told me what to do with a fondness in her voice that always manages to make me feel better.
I spent most of the morning trying to thaw the turkey with warm water while waiting for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to start. I was shocked when I learned that my roommate and partner had never seen the parade before. I also never realized how strange the parade would be to someone who had never seen it before.
Every act that performed, every float that stopped in front of the Macy’s building was familiar to me. Yet, this was the first year I realized that they got most of the children show floats out of the way early so parents could leave with their squirming toddlers. Or that the bands and performances on the floats seemed strange.
I grew up with the parade on my TV. I have never missed it in all my twenty years of life. Yet my roommate and partner both watched with confused fascination. Neither were very thrilled with my family’s tradition of hand picking the bread for the stuffing either.
My mother has the most delicious recipe for stuffing and I hate to go against old traditions. We, unfortunately, were stuck with a sixteen pound bird since that was the smallest turkey we could find. That meant two and a half loaves of bread had to be plucked into tiny pieces to go into the bird.
Eventually, my roommate just started cutting the bread in large stacks. I still like picking the bread by hand, however. I remember years of mom calling my sister and me into the kitchen after the parade had finished. I remember sitting around the largest bowl we owned, giggling when Mom mockingly yelled at Dad for making the pieces too big.
Thankfully, the bird went into the oven without problem and came out delicious. So did all of the side dishes, courtesy of my partner; so were my roommate’s pies. We waddled into the living room of our apartment with heavy food comas once the kitchen was cleaned. We had piles of food in the fridge for the rest of the break.
Finally, in the spirit of the holiday, I called my mother one last time and thanked her for everything.