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  • Kristan Higgins

Thanksgiving and the brother of bacon

For the first time in her life, Sainted Mother will not be in town on Thanksgiving. For many years, she insisted on hosting, claiming Thanksgiving was her holiday, and hers alone. A few years ago, we chiseled away at her death grip on the day, and she came to our house and let McIrish cook. Was his stuffing as good as hers? Where was the green bean casserole made with frozen green beans and a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup? 


Despite her, ah, disappointments, Mom did say it was nice not to have awakened at 2 a.m. to put “the damn bird,” as she called it, in the oven. Nice not to have to peel eleventy hundred pounds of potatoes. Nice especially not to clean up, which took her several days after the Mongol Horde (i.e., our family) departed, leaving nothing but a decimated kitchen in our wake.


This year, we are headed to New Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with his family. His brother and wife are fantastic cooks. I’m baking two apples pies for them, and a couple of what I call

“personal pies.” McIrish needs an entire apple pie for himself, and what would the holiday be without pumpkin pie, huh? A sacrilege, that’s what. We love going to Brian and Julie’s beautiful house, seeing our niece and nephews, my beloved mother-in-law and the rest of the crowd. And while I knew they would have included Sainted Mother, I also knew spending six hours in the backseat of our car is not Mom’s idea of a good time, no matter how good the food is.


And so Mother decided she would stay home this year, alone, and maybe go to the movies. Or nail herself to the cross, depending on her mood. Instead, her lovely sister invited her to join her, several of Mom’s nieces and their families. 


“How nice!” said I.

“Yes,” she said, then paused ominously. “But they…they serve…ham. Not turkey. They don’t like turkey.” 


“Does anyone really like turkey?” I mused. “It’s really all about the side dishes. Rita’s a great cook. I’m sure you’ll have a gorgeous meal.”


“Mm-hm,” she said. Mom is a traditionalist where Thanksgiving is concerned.


“It’s ham, Mom,” I said. “The brother of bacon. You love ham.”


“That’s true.” But I could tell she was unconvinced.


Knowing Sainted Mother as I do, I think she’ll buy a turkey breast and some bread for the stuffing, get out that box of potato flakes and go to town. We’re having a family potluck on Saturday, and I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a green bean casserole and Mom’s signature stuffing, packed so tightly you can slice it. I hope so. It’s the best on turkey sandwiches. Which we’ll be having, because I’m getting a turkey breast, too.


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