The other day I was thinking of Thanksgiving traditions that I
hope to pass on to my girls, and I got a little teary-eyed, thinking of our
annual "Setting Store-Bought Cookies Out on a Platter" that we never miss. Then
there’s the lively "Clean Your Goddamn Room" that always takes place 30 minutes before guests arrive—it sets a festive mood and seems to bring us
Ah, making memories!
One thing I will not be able to pass on to them and future
generations? How to cook a Thanksgiving turkey.
The truth is, I’ve never cooked a turkey. I’m pretty intimidated
by an object so massive—plus I can think of other 16-pound things I’d rather
cook, like 16 packages of bacon. Also, poultry is tricky because the risk of
salmonella if it’s not prepared correctly and poisoning my entire family during
Thanksgiving dinner would pretty much guarantee there’d be no Christmas
presents for me.
If I stall long enough while we’re discussing the menu, someone else will always volunteer to bring the main course.
A funny thing happens when you tell someone you’ve never cooked
a turkey. They always say, “Oh, but it’s so
easy,” and proceed to give you detailed instructions on how you too, can
master the bird. “Just rub it all over with truffle oil, stuff it with a
chestnut-date-quinoa mixture that you missed three days of work to make, give
it a generous sprinkling of salt, pepper, thyme and the sweat rolling off your face,
tie the legs together with a Donna Karan scarf and pop it in the oven. EASY
Whether I’ve hosted Thanksgiving or someone else has taken it
on, the job of turkey-cooking has always fallen on either my mom or one of my
four siblings. My secret: I find that if I stall long enough while we’re
discussing the menu, someone else will always volunteer to bring the main course.
Then I feign disappointment and follow up with a comment like, “Oh darn, I see
someone else has already decided to bring the turkey. All right then, I’ll just
bring the napkins.”
I’m more of a side-dish person, and I’d rather cook up a batch
of mashed potatoes or some sautéed Brussels sprouts. Last year, I contributed a
carafe of cranberry-infused bourbon and served pre-dinner cocktails to everyone—they were delicious and widely consumed, and it’s safe to say there were a few
people who wouldn’t have noticed if there was a turkey on the table or not. That
is what I call the start to a meaningful tradition.
I’ll have to think of other things I can pass on to my girls for
when they’re hosting their own Thanksgiving dinners. They don’t really like to
cook, so chances are they’ll never prepare a turkey, either, but I’ll make sure
and teach them some memorable ways they can contribute to the day. After all,
someone has to take the dinner rolls out of the package and put them in a bowl.