“An important part of Thanksgiving Day is the beauty of the table and surroundings. Set a festive table with starched white linens, strands of pearls over crystal candelabras, and a brocade runner set dramatized with antique gold goblets holding white orchids.” — From a magazine article
The glossy November issue of one of my favorite magazines is ripped and clipped. Words of wisdom on how to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner. I ooh and ahh over the pages. I marvel at the pretentious layouts, the slick pages of the perfect gamily gathering in the kitchen with the hostess wearing a sequined apron and holding a sterling silver spoon.
I put down the magazine and say to myself, “Yes! This year we will have a perfect family Thanksgiving Day dinner.”
It is the day after Thanksgiving. Grampa is punching the dial for the second load of dishes in the dishwasher. We waited until morning for the mashed potatoes and stuffing plopped on the dining room carpeting to dry so we could vacuum up the crumbs and hope the stains were not permanent.
The perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner is over. The table was set with our best china; not all the dishes matched. In between the china, two pizza pans were taped to the table in front of two high chairs. Green and orange sippy cups at the ready. Dish towels with names on clothespins on the seat of chairs – Gramma’s emergency bibs.
The turkey was done an hour before the family arrived. Grampa donned one of the everyday kitchen aprons splattered with grease, plugged in the electric knife, and sliced the perfect bird to fill the warm slow cooker. His shape looked like it had been hit by a truck while crows had picked at his bones. But he was moist and delicious, verified by Grampa, who had snitched a few bites.
The sweet potatoes ended up too close to the top of the oven so their marshmallow topping turned dark brown. The stuffing was gooey and greasy with drippings, but that is what made it taste so good. Serving bowls were heaped to the top while Gramma searched for big spoons.
The girls filled the water glasses and the men provided the matches for candlelight. The twins laughed and wiggled and used their hands to stuff the turkey dinner into their mouths as fast as they could.
Photos were taken of the merriment around the table with the sliced turkey as the centerpiece next to a wacky chicken with a kerchief tied under her beak, a slit in her back where a dusty pheasant feather was inserted.
Our dinner was traditional, not gourmet: a relish plate that held green and black olives and deviled eggs, then cranberry whipped cream salad, sweet potato souffle, that green bean casserole, and corn pudding everyone loves, turkey-mashed potato-gravy-stuffing, pumpkin pie with real whipped cream.
On the final “glossy” page of the Aderman’s Perfect Thanksgiving Day dinner: Twins were stripped down to bare feet and diapers playing with toys. Granddaughters were teaching us how to dance the Funky Chicken. Charades were played by two teams who took turns watching babies learn how to climb steps and pound the piano keys.
Someone cuts the pie and heaps on the whipped cream. The boys are fed like birds in a nest. Toys are tossed in basket. Shoes are tied. Plastic containers are filled with leftovers. There is laughter in the air and hugs all around. The wind whips the leaves over the sidewalk. The van drives away with arms waving from the windows, smeared by goodbye kisses and greasy handprints.
It is the end of a perfect Thanksgiving Day!
Leftover turkey enchiladas
½ cup butter; 1 small onion, diced; 1 cup leftover turkey, cut into small pieces; 1 (4 oz.) can green chilies; 3 oz. cream cheese; ½ tsp. salt; 10 fajita-size flour tortillas; 1/3 cup half and half; 1 cup shredded sharp cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Melt butter in skillet and cook onion until soft. Take from stove and add turkey, green chilies, cream cheese, and salt. Spoon 1/3 cup filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll and set seam-side-down in pan. Drizzle with half and half and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until top is golden. Serve with assorted condiments: salsa, sour cream, guacamole.