The year was 1995. Two days, COUNT THEM! Two days before Thanksgiving, my mother calls and says, "I'm handing over my melted plastic spoons and my pans with no handles to you. YOU are fixing Thanksgiving Dinner."
For a moment I thought she had been drinking. Turns out, she wasn't.
So in a frenzied fashion, I threw together a Thanksgiving Feast fit for kings. Turkey, dressing, baked beans, potatoes...pies...bread....you get the idea. I even made monogramed place cards! I had learned about place cards from Martha Stewart.
At 10:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, my youngest daughter says, "mommy, my tummy hurts." If you had a nickel for every time a kid told you that, you could retire to Maui! "You'll feel better when you eat." I told her with a pat on her head and a motherly smile.
At 10:30 a.m. my husband (whom I'm no longer married to and the next sentence could explain one of the reasons why) says, "We have to be at dad's at 4:00." 'Dad' lived in the Quad Cities, a good hour from our home. My dinner was being served at Noon. Three hours to eat and clean up before we needed to leave by 3:00. I could do it. I had watched Martha Stewart enough times that I felt confident I could handle it. She was my hero. I had faith in her abilities. I had faith in my own. I would simply channel Martha for the remainder of the day and I could get through it.
My family arrived early (as they're often want to do!) The table had been set the night before. Everything matched. My plates matched the silverware which happened to be the cheap kind you pick up at Dollar General, the kind with the colored plastic handles. Even my glasses matched. (I've since learned its called stemware, but mine had no stems. I was young, naive. Don't hold it against me.)
At noon we all sat down to feast.
At noon o' one I felt my heart fall to my feet. My mom had attempted to cut into her turkey with her fork. The handle broke off on the first attempt.
Was my turkey so hard that it broke the fork??
No. It was the cheap plastic forks. Praise Jesus, the turkey was fine! The fork however, was an omen, a precursor of what was to come.
At noon o two, my youngest repeated again that her tummy hurt. I gave her extra potatoes to help make it better.
At noon o two point five, my mother asked where the gravy was. She knew well that I didn't know how to make gravy. I had tried over the years and each time it ended in failure. My gravy always had the consistency of wall paper paste. Now, as I've told you in the past, my family thinks gravy is a drink to be served with each meal like a fine wine. Some members of my family have often questioned my lineage, for every Dixon-Wingfield woman could make gravy. Evidently its a trait picked up and learned in utero. I must have been hatched or worse yet, switched at birth by accident. Mamma immediately went into the kitchen, ashamed of me I'm sure, and in less than five minutes she had a bowl of hot, perfect gravy. Dinner was saved.
My family eats well, and fast, let there be no doubt. Dinner was consumed in less than fifteen minutes. Mom, dad and brother were out the door by noon forty-five. My youngest, Debbi, still complained of a tummy ache. I convinced her she would feel better after a nap in the car, patted her head again and sent her to watch cartoons.
Hurriedly, I cleared the table, put the left overs away, washed the dishes, took out the trash, washed children's faces and swept the floor. Yes, alone. It was simply easier than trying to explain to a grown man how to hold a broom or how a dish towel operates.
We left our home by two-thirty. I was quite glad to be ahead of schedule! Even though Debbi had complained yet again of an icky tummy. I had the Martha Stewart thing down pat. It was a perfect day. Life was good. She'd feel better after a slice of her Grandma Betty's pumpkin pie.
Less than ten miles left in our journey and I hear Emilee, my oldest, begin to scream from the back seat. "Debbi's puking on me!!"
Traveling down the highway at 60 miles an hour is not the best time to be thrown up on. It's also not the best time to try to scramble out the door to get away from one's puking little sister. Martha Stewart NEVER mentioned what to do when your six year old is puking in the back seat of the car on Thanksgiving Day. Was I the only one something like this happened to?
We cleaned the mess as best we could, turned around and went back home. The girls had fallen asleep in the back seat, so we lovingly carried them into the house and put them on the bottom bunk together. Two hours later, it is Debbi's turn to scream. "Emilee just puked on me!!!" It all went down hill from there.
Debbi didn't throw up again, but Emilee however, had taken on the role of the Exorcist. She threw up so many times that I lost count. She threw up on things I didn't even know we owned. Every blanket, every sheet, every pillow, every mattress.
At six, the weatherman said to be prepared for an ice storm. Funny, Martha never mentioned ice-storms either.
At eight, I began to smell something very similar to burning plastic. I smelled it again every few minutes. My now ex-husband told me I was hallucinating from the fumes coming off Emilee's vomit. The smell would come, the smell would go. It went on like that for an hour.
By nine, he was hallucinating to. "Whats that smell?" Was he serious?
After a very careful and thorough investigation, we discovered it was the furnace. Try to get a furnace repair man to come out at nine on Thanksgiving Night during an ice storm. I took a chance and tried calling one anyway. After his initial laughter subsided, he diagnosed the problem and told me to shut the furnace off, because if we continued to run operate it, it would most assuredly catch on fire.
The furnace went off.
The ice storm hit.
Emilee continued to puke.
I continued to do laundry.
It got awfully cold, awfully quick. I turned on the oven. Emilee continued, like clock work every six minutes to vomit. I continued to do laundry. She finally got the dry heaves. I finally discovered why some alligators eat their young. There was no way to fight an ice storm to take her to the hospital. I was trapped in a cold house, with a puking kid, and had ended up running out of laundry detergent. And blankets. And patience.
At six the next morning, she finally stopped throwing up.
At six o' one, I called my mother. I gave her back the melted plastic spoons and the pots with no handles.
That was the last Thanksgiving meal I cooked for a very, very long time.
May you be blessed with many, many happy Thanksgivings!!!