78. Dinner To Go

78. Dinner To Go

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters

Dinner To Go

No chaos, no creation. Evidence: the kitchen at mealtime.

~Mason Cooley

Buckle up, because you’re in for a wild ride… kind of like our turkey on Thanksgiving Eve seven years ago. These are the actual events of that day. It’s the kind of experience that will only happen once in a lifetime, and no matter how many Thanksgivings we have from here on out, this will always be my family’s favorite Thanksgiving memory.

Thanksgiving Eve morning, I arrived at my mom’s house at about 8:30. Mom and I plunged right in and started to make the Thanksgiving feast for our family. Being of Italian descent, we not only make the traditional dishes, but we add an Italian flair. This included dishes like stuffed artichokes, fried cardones, and stuffing from scratch. So Mom and I were busy multitasking, stuffing this and frying that. I also made my famous banana split cake. Thanksgiving would not be the same without these dishes.

Since it was a very cold day, we used the garage as a second refrigerator, and put everything we finished cooking on the trunk of my parents’ car. My mom got the twenty-three-pound turkey out of the fridge. We gave him a saltwater bath and placed him safely in his roasting pan. He was all set for his date with the 350-degree oven the next morning at 6:00. I brought him out to the garage and put him on the trunk of the car, next to the artichokes, cardones and banana split cake.

My dad came in and said he had to go to the store. We didn’t really hear him. Although we love him dearly, we often block him out.

Hours went by, and Mom and I finished the homemade stuffing. I went to the garage to put the stuffing on the trunk of the car, but there was no car. My mind began to race. Where’s the car? Where’s the food? I glanced at the end of the driveway and screamed. My banana split cake was laying there—upside-down. Artichokes and cardones were in the road.

My mom came outside, saw the carnage, and began to bite on her index finger the way old Italian women do. I went to the end of the driveway in shock. My Aunt Kay, who lives next door, came outside and helped me gather the artichokes and cardones that had escaped their tinfoil homes. She tried to comfort me by pointing out that a few artichokes didn’t look so bad. “Just brush off the stones. No one will know.”

As I crouched there picking up all the food, it hit me: There was no turkey. I looked down the road… no sign of the turkey or the roasting pan. My mom was in a panic. Where would we get a twenty-three-pound turkey that was ready to cook the day before Thanksgiving?

I decided to search for the turkey. I drove about three miles down the road, but there was no sign of the turkey. I turned back and reassured my mom that Dad surely noticed the turkey and put it inside the car.

My mom, Aunt Kay and I sat at the kitchen table in shock. No normal person could possibly pass by all that food piled on the car and not see it. However, we were talking about my dad. Although he is the best dad in the world, he does live in a fog.

I called my four sisters and told them our turkey was missing. We became hysterical, imagining the people driving behind the “fog man,” beeping their little hearts out to get my dad’s attention, only to go unheard since Dad is oblivious when he’s driving.

About an hour later, my dad pulled in the driveway. He walked into the kitchen holding the turkey still inside the roasting pan. Dad informed us that this poor turkey had made it on the trunk of the car all the way from Churchville to Gates (approximately nine miles). My father finally noticed it when it flew off the trunk as he was turning onto Manitou Road from Buffalo Road. He slammed on the brakes and blocked the whole intersection. He got out of his car to rescue the turkey, which, according to him, only bounced once. He picked up the turkey from the road, put it in the roasting pan, and ran back to the car. On his way home, he found the lid to the roasting pan a few miles from our house.

Once again, Mom and I were plucking stones from our Thanksgiving dinner. We gave the turkey another saltwater bath, placed him back into the slightly dented roasting pan, and put him on a shelf in the garage. My sisters showed up with bags of artichokes and cardones, and we began the task of preparing them… again.

I don’t remember a Thanksgiving before or since our “road kill turkey dinner.” The laughter around our dinner table that day was truly beautiful. And I am thankful for my father, who put aside his pride and chased after our turkey rolling down the road.

P.S. In my father’s defense, he wants it known that he lives in a fog because he raised five daughters.

~Lori Giraulo-Secor

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