Over the years, for me, my husband and my daughter, our tradition on Thanksgiving is to wake up, watch the Macy’s parade while eating chips and dip for breakfast and cooking the turkey. At noon we turn on the radio to hear Alice’s Restaurant, wearing our pajamas all day long and watching movies. We have spent Thanksgiving alone for a number of years now, mostly because of our food restrictions.
In 2012, when my parents moved locally, we drove over their house to pick them up and bring them to our house to eat. It was the first time in 25 years that they weren’t celebrating Thanksgiving in their own home or with one of my siblings. By 2013, dad was gone and mom was having her first Thanksgiving alone for the first time in over 59 years. Thanksgiving 2014 would be her last.
Looking at this photo again, I’m glad she was so happy that day. Believing the turkey had been in the oven cooking all morning by the time she arrived, we discovered that the heating element in our oven had broken off and disintegrated to the oven floor in a big pile of ash. After a short panic, we started to think about what we could cook in the microwave. We’d been vegetarians in the past, so not having turkey for Thanksgiving was no big deal – it was all the fixins’ and sides that really mattered anyway.
But then my husband had a eureka moment…SMOKE IT! And my husband is the smoked meat master! Still a vivid memory, years ago, long before our daughter (who will be 18 in March), my husband had a hissy fit in the middle of Home Depot because I refused to buy a very large barrel smoker with money we didn’t have. Of course, in the end, we bought it…then we became kosher and the smoker was no longer “acceptable” for cooking…and it sat on the deck for years. We ended up giving the smoker to our neighbor who helped us move out of our house, but that’s a whole other story. Regardless, my husband learned to smoke meat like no other and has mastered smoking with just a simple Weber kettle charcoal grill.
So Thanksgiving 2014, we ate little hot dogs while my husband smoked the turkey. It was probably the best Thanksgiving turkey we’ve ever had.
Last Thanksgiving was the most difficult. For the first time, my parents would not be celebrating with us nor could I call them to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. We no longer had cable t.v. so the parade went unwatched. Eating our chips and dip wasn’t the same without mom telling us how much she loved it and asking what kind of appetizers we were making for her. The turkey cooked without incident, but we forgot to turn on the radio and missed hearing Alice’s Restaurant. I forced myself to change out of my pajamas and rode my bike to the gym to work out before gorging on food.
Riding my bike has become a newer tradition for me on Thanksgiving – not only because I feel the need to burn the calories I’ll be consuming all day, but because the roads are mostly empty and the fear of being run off the road is a lot less stressful. So today I hopped on Ole Bessie and took a spin. Looking for some fun Thanksgiving things to photograph, I came up empty handed. Although I didn’t run into any turkeys this morning, I did manage to find a flock of roosters hanging outside a dingy sports bar on the highway.
No parade again this year, but I did get in my bike ride, rushing home by noon to turn on the radio. Unfortunately, my “breakfast” tricked me into eating it first and turned on the radio only to hear the clapping at the end of Alice’s Restaurant. I’m back in my jammies and ready to build a fire and binge watch Netflix all day…
I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. – Forrest Gump