I hustled about preparing for the holiday. I no longer enjoyed these gatherings of epic proportion. As the planner in the family mix, naturally, as Mama aged, it fell to me to continue with the tradition of bringing one and all together to endure unparalleled food, fun, and festivities.
For years I’d hosted the Tyler family Thanksgiving meal. It had grown well beyond the original Tyler 8. This year there would be 63 hungry bellies. Many of us, myself included, no longer carried the Tyler name. We’d married, had children of our own, and now those children were having children. It was a large undertaking. It took a lot of food and even more effort and I was truly unthankful.
My friends had all jumped on the “Thank-A-Day” campaign, posting each day in November something they were thankful for. Their remarks showed up on my FaceBook page and in emails. Everywhere I went people were letting me know why they were thankful. I didn’t join. I felt no joy. I smiled politely or checked the “like” button as I continued my bustling to prepare for the unwelcomed event.
Thanksgiving morning rolled around. 4:00am…up to start the turkeys. Yes, turkeyS, plural. It took three birds to feed this hungry crew. I slapped the first one in the sink, cut away the outer wrap and began trying to free the leg from the metal clamp. “…it will easily separate…” the package read. Liars! I wrestled and contorted that poor bird in every possible way, finally resorting to brute force and not caring if I inflicted damage upon him or me. Triumphant at last, I went about pulling parts from the cavity, cleaning the bird, patting, rubbing, preparing. One down, two to go. How glad I was that the earliness of the hour kept my feat a private show.
Bird #3. No pan. My third roaster had disappeared. I’d had all three the day before. I rechecked in the cabinet. Gone. Deep breaths. Think. I’d just use my oversized brownie pan. This was the smallest of the three birds. It fit. Whew!
With a gasp, I stumbled back a few steps as I stared at those three turkeys in their pans. Like a wave, the revelation hit me. Two were nestled securely within the large roasting pans. The third was exposed in the baker. The pan was shallow. There was no protection from the heat. There’d be no slow cooking to its very core producing a tender succulent meal. This bird would become calloused, meeting the heat head on, browning quickly, hardening and drying the outer layers. And the pan was too shallow to contain any of the delicious juices that might run free.
That turkey was me and that pan represented my relationship with the Lord. Like Martha from the Bible I’d become so involved and disgruntled with the doing that I’d forgotten to choose the better thing. I’d failed to spend time at my Brother’s feet and in my Father’s word and presence. My pan, my life was shallow.
Through humble tears I asked for forgiveness. I purged my heart before the Lord and three uncooked turkeys. I was truly thankful for the first time in a very long time as I rose from my knees.
“Grammy?” I was startled by the voice of my four-year-old grandson in orange pajamas. “Why that one is different?” he asked in sleepy kid speak.
“Grammy can’t find her pan. Why are you up so early?” I scooped him up in my arms and hugged him tightly. I’d barely taken any time for him since he’d arrived two days before. I’d been too busy.
“Potty,” he informed. I nodded and took him to the corner bathroom.
As I tucked him back into bed he pointed to the floor. “Boat.” My roaster had indeed made a great boat for his stuffed animals.
The meal was a success, as always. The children were surprised and delighted with my offer to help set the tables. Slightly crooked cloths of green and orange covers were garnished with vases of haphazardly arranged fall flowers. Cornucopias filled with edible fruits – apples, oranges, grapes, bananas - were placed randomly on the serving tables along with the foods family members had helped to prepare. Everything was not perfect and yet it was. I looked at the smiles and listened to the chatter and laughter. I realized I had so much to be truly thankful for, including my deep dish.
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