A hero's journey on Thanksgiving.
It was a beautiful 75-degree day 24 years ago. My parents were driving ten hours, expected to arrive right before dinner, just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving. They had the car loaded up - with lasagna.
I had just completed graduate school when I moved to an idyllic town down South - Pinehurst, NC, to work in the local hospital. I was full of ambition and drive; I was missing my fiancée(now husband), and the thought of cooking my first Thanksgiving, quite frankly, threw me over the edge (do you see where my kids get it?).
Lasagna to the rescue.
Who needed turkey - not me.
Spend hours in the kitchen on my one day off? Why, yes, Mom, please bring homemade lasagna (do you see where I get it?)
I prepped the table the day before. I placed fresh white magnolias in a vase full of cranberries and water. Matching, sparkly placemats decorated the round table, champagne chilled in the fridge.
Then, I got the call.
In the hero's journey, the protagonist receives a "call" (metaphorical or literal)that sends them on an adventure or quest and ultimately creates a change in their strength/character. In Star Wars, for example, Luke Skywalker received the "call" to rescue Princess Leia. Thus the story begins. My phone call that holiday initiated the beginning of my adventure, my Thanksgiving journey. ( but would I be my own hero?)
"Hi, hon. You know, Dad and I were talking about it and actually, turkey does sound good. Do you think you can manage a turkey breast and a few sides?"
What?! You must be driving through the mountains, do you have enough oxygen? I thought.
"Sure, Mom. No problem. I'll go get a small, fresh turkey breast, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Sound good? I'll see you later today."
Twenty-four years ago, Pinehurst was (and still is) a small resort town catering to golfers, with a critically acclaimed golf course, Pinehurst #2, at the heart of the Dickens-like village. What it did not have - was a plethora of grocery stores. The two major food chain markets were out of fresh turkeys. The managers looked at me like I was a turkey. Oh sure, they had frozen birds that weighed about as much as me. (I do not exaggerate!)
My only other option was ... the SuperK.
I walked past the section of Christmas lights. I ignored the beauty aisle. I stayed clear of the clothing, lawn care, and power tools and made my way to the fresh meat department. There it was, a perfectly sized, raw, no accessories noted (giblet and junk-free) turkey. I'll take it!
I gathered everything I needed for the sides. A few fresh herbs for the bird and headed home to start cooking.
Now, you have to remember. I couldn't look anything up. I didn't have a cookbook. I didn't have Pinterest. I didn't have a cellphone. There was no iPad! How did we live? (OK, I exaggerate a little.)
I stood in front of the now cleaned, patted dry, still slippery as all get out, bird.
Sauce - no problem.
Biscotti - no problem.
Turkey - that was a problem.
And I did what any reasonable person would do when they can't get a hold of their mother; I called my gram. And this is how that went --
"Gram, how do you cook a turkey?"
"Oh, that's easy, honey."
"Great, what do I do?"
"You cook it just like you would a whole chicken."
I started to cry a little.
"Great, that's good to know. Gram? how do you cook a whole chicken?"
And then, for the next 30 minutes, my grandmother walked me through the steps of cooking my first turkey that I bought at Kmart.
The holiday was a huge success, and the hero (me) learned quite a bit on my journey to creating the perfect Thanksgiving - turkey and all.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday this week. I am so thankful for YOU, my readers, and I wish you the very best as we head into this crazy, hectic, joyous, season.
Love and luck,