Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

We are visiting Bill’s family in England for Thanksgiving -- five short days. There was no turkey dinner or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. However, the English have chosen to celebrate another more modern American tradition: Black Friday. Yes, we Americans eat the turkey and celebrate the voyage that originated in Plymouth, England; then we wake up Friday morning to mania in the stores and in our email boxes. And English retailers have latched onto this day-after tradition. Bizarre.

Bill’s mum gave us our Christmas present early: evening tickets to a musical, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in London on Thanksgiving night. Waking up at 11 a.m., we had a bit of a late start and found ourselves at Buckingham Palace to watch the guards march around 4:00; then we strolled around Green Park near the Canada Gate -- a memorial area dedicated to Canadian forces killed in the First and Second World Wars.

From there, Will wanted to check out the famous London toy shop: Hamley's. The five floors of toys was filled with a festive buzz and lots of smiles. Each floor had employees playing with toys, so we could see how much fun they were. It worked. Bill explored with Will, and I went with Liam. In a half hour we met and compared what the boys wanted. Bill and I each had a remote-controlled clone in our hands. They were very cool little gizmos. The man flying it around the shop landed it on his nose; his expertise showed he had been doing this a while. The drones took the air with lights flashing and four little helicopter blades spinning. The flying toy easily fit in the palm of my hand.

For Thanksgiving supper, we had delicious baguette sandwiches from a coffee shop then walked around the corner to the theater. The magic of live theater, while eating a Wonka chocolate bar, kept the smiles and awe on our faces, just as the drones had done.

From the theater, we hopped aboard a double-decker bus. The the best seats were available – upper deck front row! We imagined we were on the Knight Bus from Harry Potter, white-knuckled as the driver wheeled around some of the tight corners.

When we opened the door to the house around midnight, we were all wired. “Can we try the drones?” Sure, but don’t fly them where there are glass ornaments; don’t fly them in the kitchen. No sooner said did Liam’s drone mistakenly take off from the kitchen table and zip straight up to the ceiling and drop straight back down. Into my hair.

I cringe when I see bats flying around. It probably isn’t a logical fear that they would get caught in my hair. It’s never happened to anyone I know. I also know no one who’d had a drone get caught in their hair. We all laughed. Then Bill had the brilliant thought that perhaps Liam should turn the thing off. So the blades would stop spinning. In my hair. And I noticed that when I turned my head, it hurt. Right in the front at the hairline, one blade was wrapped so tightly it was pulling my scalp.

Serious de-tangling ensued with Bill working as gently as he could to get the four blades out of my hair. “Mom, I’m so, so sorry!” Liam kept saying. “Get the scissors!” Bill directed. “No, you can’t do that!” Liam exclaimed. “I won’t cut much out,” Bill assured.

As for me, I was caught between a grimace and a chortle. Will sat stiffly and watched my face, trying to judge how painful it was. After 15 minutes, I was free of the drone. “Mom, I’m so sorry!” said Liam again. No more drones were flown in the house last night.

Today, we took them to a park. Liam’s wasn’t working very well. Up close, I saw the problem. Hair wrapped around the blades. Black hair. Had I been seconds away from my hair catching light? Or, had another mother with black hair been ensnared before me? Had they then returned it to Hamley’s in the original package to be resold to us?

All in all, Thanksgiving in London was a wonderful time with my family… and as exciting as Thanksgiving 2009... when we set the oven on fire.

Hoping you had a wonderful, relatively uneventful Thanksgiving Day!

(Do you remember the other Reel Hairy Tale?)

Turkeys and Love

Ahhhh.  Thanksgiving morn.  I felt a telepathic scuttle when my alarm went off this morning.  That turkey energy running through kitchens all through the country.  Houses quiet but for the one person carrying the load of the day: preparing the turkey. In our house, it’s double duty.  I’m kind of the director and Bill does the hands-on lifting, cleaning, rubbing, and carving.  We have a special guest of honor this year: we know our turkey lived a charmed life roaming on Chestnut Farms.  On Sunday, Bill went to the distribution point to collect our gobbler.  My name wasn’t on the list but the farmer remembered my name.  She asked, “What size did Linda order?”  Bill hadn’t an idea of available sizes.  “Probably a medium.”

And on that day our turkey grew from 14-16 pounds to 17-20 pounds for four people.  There will actually be six of us, but I’m pretty sure Will & Liam won’t be trying the turkey.  “Point of View” by Shel Silverstein was read by one of the students at all-school Thanksgiving meeting Monday.  Many of us chuckled at it.  Others of us used it to sum up exactly why mac’n’cheese is a perfectly good Thanksgiving entrée.

All week I’ve been visualizing that beautifully roasted, domed bird.  Daily Bill has been given it cold baths, per farmer’s direction, then covering it with a wet towel, foil and returning it to the fridge.  I’ve been studying the many options of preparation: brining, buttering, herbing, or simply shoving it in a 350-degree oven.  Since we are having an evening feast, I’ve decided to go with brining it for the day in kosher salt in a sinkful of ice water.

At 6:30 a.m., Bill brought the turkey up from the basement fridge and uncovered it as I gave directions.    “I think it should go breast down so that meat is fully submerged in the brine.”  We started filling the sink with water and ice; Bill placed the turkey into its prep sink.  I restated, “No, it needs to go breast-down.”  Bill, looking at me as if I had two heads, “It is breast down.  It’s been this way all week.”

Thus we enter a very peculiar state of “I’m right… No, I’m right.”  But I AM right, as sure as I can tell the pungent difference between cow manure and pig shit, I AM right.  At this intersection, I can’t speak.  After a few seconds staring at the tail, the elbow of the wing – and yes, the backbone – I say, “Bill, do you really think this is the breast?”  Pause.  Sigh.  “No, now I don’t.”

Our DD breasted turkey was now a BB.  Flat chested.  Condensed.  Flat as a pancake.   She had been lying comatose on her breasts for four days.

Today, I’m thankful for a slower pace so we can gather as a family, turning off the responsibilities and the roles outside our four walls.  After all, it’s the human side of Bill that I just adore.  At moments like this, he makes me smile deliriously.

Next weekend, I think we will roast a chicken together.  I will make a farmer out of him yet.