In addition to my usual day job, I assume the roles of handyman and housewife in our home. The housewife role, and the fact that my lovely wife had to work on the holiday, meant that I got to be the Big Kahuna this Thanksgiving. I did the envisioning, the planning, and the execution.
The execution of the plan began the day before. All the food and sundries were secured, and the specialty equipment unpacked. Everything went smoothly, except for the securing of the roasting pan and rack â€“ I dug everything out of the shed looking for them before I remembered that I put them in the back of a kitchen cabinet last year so that I would not have to dig through the shed again. With all the gear in place, I was ready for the big day.
Thanksgiving day started as any other â€“ my wife and I sitting together at the kitchen table swilling coffee while it was still dark outside. We exchanged few words as we struggled to become coherent. By the time my lovely wife was smiling and conversational, it was time for her to leave. She departed for work in the family motor vehicle.
I performed some yogic stretching to clear my nadis (energy channels in the body), then performed my daily prayer and meditation routine. Now I was ready for Thanksgiving Day.
I thought I would start with some nice music to accompany my final rearranging and cleaning of the house. I chose the 1969 album â€œLoadedâ€ by the Velvet Underground. Soon the voice of a young Lou Reed filled the hacienda with immortal classics such as â€œHeroineâ€ and â€œSweet Janeâ€. I thought I might play every cover of â€œSweet Janeâ€ recorded in the last thirty five years, but that would consume most of the morning. Perhaps I would just play the Cowboy Junkies version on repeat, but that might induce me to take a nap. Ultimately, I decided that, cool though it was, the music of a bunch of Avant Garde New York City junkies just did not make the grade on Thanksgiving Day.
I began to experience a recollection. A memory that went back to elementary school. At the risk of revealing my age, I was in elementary school when Madeline Murray Oâ€™Hare landed the first blow in what would become a culture war. She went to court to ban praying in government schools. I attended a government school, though back then they were funded at the municipal level, and parents called the shots. Prayers were gone, but hymns were not. I recall that every Thanksgiving we would sing â€œWe Gather Together.â€ It had three verses. These are the lyrics:
1. We gather together
to ask the Lord’s blessing;
he chastens and hastens
his will to make known.
The wicked oppressing
now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to his name,
he forgets not his own.
2. Beside us to guide us,
our God with us joining,
his kingdom divine;
so from the beginning
the fight we were winning;
thou, Lord, wast at our side,
all glory be thine!
3. We all do extol thee,
thou leader triumphant,
and pray that thou still
our defender wilt be.
Let thy congregation
thy name be ever praised!
O Lord, make us free!
Yikes! Singing that would make even the most strident secular humanist start speaking in tongues! As Lou Reed might say, â€œSinging a Thanksgiving hymn, those were different times.â€
I guess the leap from the Velvet Underground to traditional hymns was just too much for me at the time, so I listened to a blues album by Jimi Hendrix. It was primarily covers of blues classics from John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, etc; but did include a couple of live versions of Voodoo Child.
The chord changes and masterful guitar work were so relaxing that I was almost late in starting the food prep. The fully stuffed and seasoned turkey hit the oven at 1:30 P.M., putting the meal on track for a 6:00 P.M. start time.
Part of my vision saw relatives coming over at random times of the day to visit. The reality, however, was that most called to say that they would show up right before the meal â€“ a sort of â€œjust in timeâ€ guest inventory.
My brother-in-law did come by a couple of hours early.
The dog went berserk with joy. He used to feed her hamburgers and hotdogs from his outside grill when she was a puppy â€“ she loves him more than any other creature who walks the face of the earth. He asked if I wanted to watch a DVD on the Reagan presidency, which he got from some online Catholic bookstore, right then and there. I explained that, though I loved Reagan as much as the next guy, I had much turkey basting, vegetable steaming, and roll baking to do in the next couple of hours so I would not be able to give it my full attention â€“ but I would be happy to put it on for him. He confessed to having already viewed it, and that he wanted to play it now primarily for my benefit. I suggested that he leave it with me, and in that way I could give it my undivided attention at another time. He agreed to do that, and before I escaped the room he asked, â€œDid you ever watch the last video I lent to you?â€ I stopped, recalling the video about gang activity in the Los Angeles school system he lent to me about six weeks ago. â€œUhâ€¦noâ€¦umâ€¦butâ€¦it is on my listâ€¦havenâ€™t had a chance, but I will watch it,â€ I said with a smile.
My wife came home from work, and her parents arrived in plenty of time. We all had a chance to visit a bit before sitting down to the meal. I did a lot of serving, arranging, and getting up and down; the folks kept insisting that I sit down and eat.
The turkey was superb! I owe it all to the recipe I got from Martha Stewart. Now, I honestly do not know if her recipes are any better than the rest, I just wanted to show support for a woman who was punished for being successful. As you may recall, the original charges against her were dropped, and she was prosecuted for lying to an FBI agent â€“ not under oath, not in a deposition, but in an informal interview. It was never clear whether she lied, or made
misstatements based on her recollection of times and dates of telephone conversations. In any event, none of that fact stuff mattered – she was successful, what more did one need to know? When asked why he voted to convict, one juror replied, â€œI did it for the little guy.â€
In any event, the meal was a great success, and I was the big winner. I say that because the point of Thanksgiving is to give thanks to God; and what better way to do that than to prepare a meal for oneâ€™s family as an offering to Him? Any housewife will tell you that there are few things more satisfying.