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  • Kristan Higgins

Someday, my turkey will come

No one trusts me to make Thanksgiving dinner.

Sainted Mother, who called Thanksgiving “mine,” took pride in slaving over a massive bird, stored in the trunk of my late father’s sports car for three days, allegedly thawing out there, away from the dogs. She would savagely peel potatoes, glaring at anyone who dared to ask if they could help. Her green bean casserole, made with a can of Campbell’s mushroom solid waste, would emerge from the oven the same color as an aging crocodile. The turkey…how Mom delighted in pronouncing, as she finally sat down a half hour after the rest of us had started, that the bird was cold, undersalted and too dry. Happy memories!

Now, the torch has been passed. Last year, we went to my sister’s house, and she and her husband and daughters put out a feast. On the other side of the family, my brothers-in-law and sister-in-law go full-on gourmet. Until then, we’d never known turkey was, in fact, delicious.

This year, McIrish is cooking. Well, allegedly, “we” are cooking. “What can we bring?” our guests asked. My sister is allowed to bring cheese and crackers. My uncle, a pie. Mom, her excellent cranberry sauce (see, Mom? I do love you!). “Let’s ask someone to bring the mashed potatoes,” said I, thinking of my mom, fiendishly slashing at twenty pounds of spuds and not wanting to see my husband doing the same.

I want to make the mashed potatoes,” McIrish said. “Mine are the best.” He has a point there.

As a devotee of St. Anthony of Bourdain, my husband has been studying for weeks now. He will make the stunt turkey, the business turkey, brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, the potatoes, another vegetable I can’t remember. He has a bag of turkey necks in the downstairs fridge, which made me scream when I opened the door. For stock, he told me. For the gravy. Until then, I was unaware that a person could (or would want to) purchase turkey necks. “And I’m going to make a sausage-chestnut stuffing,” he said dreamily.

“Wait. I always make the stuffing,” I said, referring to the two times in my life I have been allowed such a task. I make a very delicious sage dressing. My daughter loves it. I love it, too.

McIrish gave me a dead-eyed stare. “I’m going to make a sausage-chestnut stuffing,” he repeated.

“Do I get to make anything?” I asked.

“Of course, honey!” he said as if addressing an eight-year-old. “You can make the pies!

Readers, sigh. I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of pies in my life, and you know what? I’m tired of them! I don’t really even like pie. Making pumpkin pie is so easy my grandson could do it, and he’s eight months old. Pecan? Yeah, but it’s so rich, and we always end up tossing the last quarter, me sadly reflecting on all the work that went into that gorgeous crust.

Apple…I find making apple pie tedious, even though sure, I make a killer apple pie praised in legend and song. I’ve made apple pies with sour cream, cognac, caramel, cranberry, a lattice work crust, crumble top, the slices arranged to look like a flower. I’m tapped out on creativity where apple pie is concerned.

I want to make dinner, damn it. Just once in my life. “If you want to make the stuffing, I guess that’s fine,” said my husband, indicating he might not be able to survive if I took him up on that. “Just…just…” His voice trailed off. Just do it the exact same way Tony and I would while I look over your shoulder and micromanage.

We’ve been married a long time. We don’t need actual words to communicate.

Pie it is. I’ve already stocked up on lard.


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