We are revving up for the holiday season. Technically, it starts with wolfing down our kid’s Halloween candy under the guise of “protecting” them from poison Snickers bars. But we know the real truth. We don’t have to count those calories, it’s like eating dessert off our significant others plate right? So break out the spanx, food gluttony is upon us.
Growing up these meals were a major female family affair. Mommy and my sister were large and in charge of anything involving taste buds. My job was peeling potatoes and being the general kitchen wench. In our early married lives my Sistah was forced to move to Texas for her job and all Thanksgiving Day we received pathetic phone calls regarding the recipe for stuffing, how long to cook a 16 pound bird, how much lemon in the hollandaise sauce. Oh we were having a good laugh about her skills until it came time to make the gravy. Crap she’d always made the sauce, we had to call her all humble and have her talk us through all those tricky whisking steps.
I once single handily ruined Thanksgiving for my family by naming our supermarket butterball Stephanie and cooing encouragement to it. “That’s right Stephanie, you’re going to make someone an amazing dinner, what a good girl you are, such a moist baby”. It got me permanently banned from cooking Thanksgiving by making our dinner a little too personal forever. This has resulted in my Sistah being that holiday hostel and the Tuna’s the destination for Santa. Below is a turkey leftover casserole for your viewing pleasure.
Sour Cream Turkey Casserole
4 cups cubed turkey
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
½ slivered almonds
½ package Pepperidge Farm Herb Dressing Mix
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
Mix turkey, soup, sour cream and almonds well and pour into casserole dish. Mix dressing and broth together and pour on top of turkey mixture. Bake at 350 degrees covered for 45 minutes. I usually pick up a few extra bags of Pepperidge Farm dressing this time of year. That way when I get a Thanksgiving craving in July I can substitute chicken, throw in a side of cranberry sauce and tah dah!
My mom died on Thanksgiving Day 2009. The hospital calling at 5 AM to ask if I wanted her put on a ventilator, that she had slipped into a coma. No I whispered, she was terminal, no hope, no wish to suffer more. I drove to the hospital with my brother Pauly who flew in the night before to say goodbye. My Sistah arrived several hours later. She told us she had to get the turkey in the oven, Mom would have expected it. We spent the day telling laughing and wildly inappropriate stories about growing up. Our animated boisterous noise had the nurse in ICU close the door in order to stop disturbing other patients. We took a break for a feast midday, eating food we were not hungry for, toasting her with special wine we’d saved. Returning to the hospital as evening fell and surrounded by family she took her final breath.
I will forever be grateful to Bebe, she invited my entire family to her house last year to share the day in our fragile condition. Tomorrow, we will return to our time honored tradition. We will always associate Thanksgiving with the day our mom passed away, but it is fitting. Since we will always be thankful to her for making us recognize the value of family and a wicked sense of humor. As I lift my glass in a toast I will see her familiar eyes in Sheldon’s face and realize that our love of her will live on in all of us. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.