Monday, November 24, 2008

Passing the Turkey

My parents are coming in for Thanksgiving again this year. Thanksgiving has become my holiday, ever since I cooked my first turkey for my parents and brother in my tiny NYC studio apartment eight years ago. Ever since, I've remained the host of our T-Day meal. Even when we've been at my parents', it's still my show. I cook, carve, bake, and serve. And I love doing it.

I have fond memories of the big extended family Thanksgiving, cooked by mom and aunts and grandma, while the other adults watched football, and we kids scrambled around in the backyard until called. We set a cheerful table and the food appeared – a warm, delicious smorgasbord of dishes not to be seen again for a year.

The original magic of Thanksgiving is somewhat gone for me, now that I know how the stuffing gets into the bird, so to speak. But in its place, I've come to cherish the ability to create something pleasing for people I love. I've done it enough to feel comfortable, even confident, and to put most of my performance-anxiety aside. I no longer worry about ruining the bird (wouldn’t be the end of the world) or keeping people waiting to eat (it can ever be perfectly timed). I have finally hit my stride.

Each year, I find myself begging less and less wisdom from my mother’s experience. My mom doesn’t enjoy cooking, so she was happy to hand this off to me. Neither of us looked back. But I notice something larger going on. The rolling of generations. Soon enough, it’s likely I'll be "mom," and she'll become "grandma," and though those titles seem far away, we have already taken the first steps down an inevitable road.

I contemplate this while chopping and basting: the passage of time, and the changes we must go through. It’s a good feeling – nostalgia for what was, and anticipation of what might be ahead. A torch is being passed, from one generation to the next. Though, I guess in our case, you could say we're passing the turkey.

1 comment:

KJ said...

Love that concept - the rolling of generations. I guess it's particularly poignant for me since I became "mom" this year, but observing the greater change from a few steps back is so cool.

My grandmother was awful at Thanksgiving dinner. I remember waiting until very late one year for the turkey that would not be cooked. I was probably 6 or 7 at the time, and I can still recall the group tension - she was sooo stressed out.

I can't remember the last time my mom did a full turkey dinner, but she did a good job.

My first turkey was a big success. I used a hair dryer to complete the thawing process before I put it in the oven! I won't do one this year because I'm still nursing a 5.5 month old and don't want to deal with it. But next year ... I can't wait!







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