By Dave Simpson, columnist
By sheer force of habit, we bought an 18-pound turkey this year.
Then we realized that it would only be the two of us for Thanksgiving dinner.
That works out to, uh, let me do the math, nine pounds of turkey for each of us. That’s more than we usually eat at one sitting.
I’m writing this before the holiday, so the bird is lodged like a beached whale out in our garage (beer) refrigerator. It’s cheek-by-jowl right now in the freezer compartment.
Pretty sure I’ll get a drumstick this year, maybe two. We won’t have to arm wrestle for the dark meat. But at nine pounds of turkey, I’ll probably only have room for a couple pounds of dressing, and maybe a pound of “pink stuff,” which is a mix of whipped cream, cranberries, and maybe marshmallows. Ask my wife.
Then every year we have “Green Beans Tannenbaum.” This doesn’t have anything to do with the German word for Christmas tree. No, back when I was in the newspaper publishing biz, we would sometimes invite single employees stuck in town for the holiday to our house for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, so they wouldn’t be alone.
And one year a reporter brought a hot dish to our Thanksgiving dinner, which entailed canned green beans, mushroom soup and toasted onions. That reporter’s name? Tannenbaum! And forevermore the Simpsons have enjoyed what I call “Green Beans Tannenbaum” at Thanksgiving and Christmas. (With just three ingredients, anyone can make it.)
And then of course there’s pumpkin pie, which could be in jeopardy this year, what with the size of the turkey we will be slogging our way through.
How did two people end up with an 18-pound turkey? Isn’t this bad planning? Couldn’t we have anticipated this conundrum and adjusted accordingly?
Well, yes, especially given the sucking chest wound of a year that is 2020, when government officials in many states are telling us how many people can gather at our homes for Thanksgiving dinner. (Did you ever think you’d see this day in America? Honestly now, did you ever?)
At two people, we will be pretty safe from Covid, but a little forethought, given this Beelzebub of a year, would have meant buying a smaller bird.
Turns out both of our sons will be out of town for Thanksgiving, but if they were here, an 18-pound bird would be reasonable. (Their mother sends them both home with lots of Tupperware full of leftovers.)
Our daughter, on the other hand, seems to think that being days away from delivering another grand child is reason enough to not put her husband, her two-year-old daughter (bordering on a “terrible two,” but you didn’t hear that from me), and all the necessary accouterments in the car and drive 230 miles to eat a turkey dinner with us, then jump back in the car and drive 230 miles home.
Takes all kinds, I guess.
Our son-in-law is the only one in the family who actually likes white meat, and I figure there will be about four or five pounds of it on this 18-pound bird. So he will be sorely missed.
My wife and I will soldier on, however, remembering one of our best Thanksgivings back in the 1990s.
We had a flat tire on the way to Thanksgiving dinner with my parents and my brother’s family near Chicago. I was worried sick about an optometrist’s assessment that a problem with my daughter’s eyesight was “beyond my expertise.” The appointment with an ophthalmologist was still days away. I was a nervous wreck. Worried sick.
“That’s it!” I said after we got the flat tire fixed. “We’re going home!”
We all got to pick whatever TV dinner we wanted. The kids had macaroni and cheese. I had a delicious “He Man” turkey dinner. It was probably our most memorable Thanksgiving, and a few days later my daughter’s eye problem turned out to be nothing at all.
(I think our very pregnant daughter ought to get in the car and come down here to help us deconstruct this 18-pound turkey to make amends for worrying her dad sick that Thanksgiving years ago. It’s the least she could do.)
Dave Simpson can be contacted at email@example.com