Honestly? I was pretty sad when I heard from Leah that she was headed to Seattle for Thanksgiving. With my family all elsewhere, and few contacts here in the area, and with very short notice, the upshot was that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving. My traveling with her was out of the question as I had previously committed to working on Friday.
So I sulked for about a day and resolved to make it the best solo Thanksgiving ever. And you know, it was!
Thanksgiving Eve I took Leah to the Burbank Airport. Traffic was fine from our place, but on the opposite side of the freeway was daunting traffic. I dropped her off and left her in the hands of the fine folks of the Transportation Security Administration. I left the airport and went and hung out at Fry’s. Fry’s Burbank is themed like a 1950’s Martian Invasion, which is neither here nor there, but it adds to the ambiance. So I walked about, considering Christmas and watching kids play Guitar Hero. So that killed maybe an hour, then I made my way to the Burbank Barnes & Noble. There I bought Scott McCloud’s latest opus on comics: Making Comics. So far, it’s excellent.
Another hour killed, I made my way back home. I bought groceries for the next day, presuming that everything would be closed the next day. Actually, the posted hours on the local Albertson’s was that they’d be open Thanksgiving to the early afternoon. Still and all, I made my purchases. I did pretty well: A 10 pound turkey (their smallest, I avoided the 45 pound monsters), a prepared sweet potato pie, prepared cranberry dressing by Boston Market, fresh broccoli, lettuce, roma tomatoes, blue cheese dressing, and for dessert: the Cars DVD. I went home and hit the sack. It had been a long work day. I got a text message later from Leah in Las Vegas, and hit the sack. She arrived VERY late at SEATAC. You can catch her own story of the journey after her landing over here at Three Car Rides (1 of 3). I got a text message when she arrived but didn’t get up. I slept.
I awoke pretty early, focused hard on the fact that today, there was no work to be done. I blogged briefly, and set to cooking.
The first thing I did was start the turkey. I have cooked a turkey before, many years ago. I’ve seen it done several ways. Some say the brine method is the best. Some say the paper bag method works best. I went with following the instructions on the packaging. I rinsed and dried it off. I set it up on a shallow roasting pan.
Then I made up some stuffing. Leah had previously saved out some bread for stuffing, which I used. I used a recipe she had used a few weeks back. Problem: it called for celery, and we had none. Being alone, I made the executive decision to simply use onions to replace the celery. It very aromatic. Yes, I cried as I chopped it. I sauteed them, mixed the recipe up, and stuffed the bird. I finished that up at 11am. My cook time was 3 1/2 hours. I got the notion to see a movie. So I hopped in the car to see what might be playing. Sadly, no movies started that early, so my car trip was for naught. Still, it was kind of fun to see everything but the food stores shut down. The groceries stores were BUSTLING.
I got home, and put in Cars. I quite enjoyed it. I have never managed to see it in the theater and I really enjoyed it. As I watched, I also worked on peeling potatoes. There must be mashed potatoes. (Flash forward: the thing I didn’t do was make any gravy, which is a little sad in retrospect, but I didn’t really miss it). I peeled and washed maybe 5 medium sized potatoes and set them cooking.
As the end of turkey cook time neared, I put on the broccoli to steam. I also sliced tomatoes and tossed a salad with the iceberg lettuce I had bought. Humble, but tasty. I also snuck some blue cheese and tomatoes. Blue cheese appeals to my palate in the strongest way. It’s awfully high in calories, but the taste knocks me out.
Oh, I forgot! I also bought some rolls, a French bread, and a ham. The French bread I didn’t touch, but I heated the ham and had little sandwiches as the turkey cooked and Cars played. It was tasty.
For the last 30 minutes of cooking the turkey, I removed the foil. It looked PERFECT. All but the top of the bird was a not too-done golden brown.
Cars ended and I put on the on-demand latest episode of The Wire. I had seen it before, but it’s so darn good, it bears watching as I try and keep up with the Baltimore slang and plot developments.
I assembled my plate. Turkey white and dark, a Turkey leg, broccoli lightly salted, a blue cheese salad, stuffing from inside the bird, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce. It was entirely great, and thoroughly enjoyable.
There’s a concept called “taking care of yourself” that doesn’t get much play. It has to do with treating yourself the way you would want others to treat you. On Thanksgiving I truly did that. I think previous incarnations of myself would have indulged in self-pity and loneliness. Instead, I viewed the day as an adventure — an opportunity. As a result, it was a great day. I missed my wife, it could have been different, maybe better, maybe worse, but bottom line, I had a great deal to be thankful for, and I’m glad it turned out so well.
There’s an affirmation I quite like, and it’s a hard one to hear and understand and accept, but it’s apt: I trust that the universe is unfolding as it should. I admit that that trust sometimes comes with great difficulty. Sometimes the trust doesn’t come at all.
Still and all, there’s the universe, unfolding and unfolding, like an infinite origami trick. It’s quite beautiful if you can manage to immerse yourself in it.