The first time I ever helped Mom make a turkey, she told me to go ahead and clean the bird. She kept busy doing other work, making stuffing, preparing the vegetables, making the sweet potatoes, while I went into the kitchen, alone, to prepare the bird. At twelve years old, this was a milestone. Being trusted with the bird.
I went into the kitchen, carefully removed the packaging from the frozen turkey, pulled out the neck and the “guts” like I’d seen Mom do many times, and I washed it. Thoroughly. When I told Mom the bird was ready, Mom told me how to season it. Her secret ingredients were soy sauce and paprika. My dad being Hungarian, Mom used paprika a lot.
The turkey came out beautiful. Mom proudly carried it to the table where Dad was prepared to carve it. Oh, how Norman Rockwell. Everyone watched as my Dad, the butcher, went to work. Until he stopped. It was at this moment that I learned an important lesson. There are two cavities in the bird. Mom pulled out the giant plastic bag from the turkey’s tush and began to laugh. Everyone laughed. They didn’t laugh at me, they laughed with me.
The year after my dad passed away, my mom came to my house for Thanksgiving for the first time. She cooked and carried a turkey on the airplane. Way before 9/11. Both Mom and Dad are gone now. And my birthmother passed away before I ever met her. I like to think she would have also had a good laugh when she found a plastic bag in the Thanksgiving turkey.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Enjoy your loved ones while you have them. By birth, or adoption, family is important.
I can’t wait to see my out of town family soon.