As the holidays approach I have been feeling my heart getting heavier. I know how very different this season is going to be. Just the idea of cooking a turkey and that ONE big extra bowl of stuffing made for Alex. He didn't care about anything else; not the turkey, potatoes, cranberries, nothing, just the stuffing. But if it's got to be different then I am going to shake it up this year. I've gone shopping, and this year I am going to make an apple pie and a pumpkin pie. ALREADY the family has bets on how I will mess this up, and they have a back up plan of store bought ones in the freezer already. They have no faith in me when it comes to cooking, and really, it's OK. I am so used to it after 31 years. You can count on me for a turkey, no problem, the stuffing, a hand me down recipe from Mom Killoran that's so darn easy I now know it by heart. (but every year I call her and it makes her day to read it to me over the phone, so I pretend) I can do the gravy now after YEARS of practice (that in itself is a feat, it used to be canned gravy!) Now they can't call me Auntie Sis anymore! Seems Dad Killoran's sister couldn't cook either so all she was allowed to do was stir the gravy. Different recipes have been tried out for the cranberries and yet, the winner always comes to be the one solid clump in the can that has the prettiet little lines on it and can be cut into shapes with cookie cutters when sliced JUST right. Potatoes, well, I have to admit, the first years it was good old boxed potatoes. Now I have the inside secret of making them from scratch. Boil them big taters first, put them IMMEDIATELY into cold water, let them sit for a few, and the skins just slide off. Them mush the heck out of them and use the mixer to SLOWLY add milk and smoothen them babies up. Corn on the cob, no worries there, they practically cook themselves. Just make sure to keep an eye on them and don't forget them. One year the football game got so good I forgot they were boiling; the smoke alarm went off and I realized ALL the water had boiled away...no corn THAT year. Lesson learned! Now, last but not least, the bisquits. It has been a hoot for my family to remind me for FIVE, yes FIVE years in a row at one time that I ruined the bisquits. I always waited till everything was on the table then I would throw them in the oven to just warm them up. I would then sit down and start helping the kids with their plates and totally forget the little buggars were in the oven. As we all said grace, the first year was, "MOM, is there something burning?" Boom, ran to the oven, too late. Next year, "MOM, did you remember the bisquits?" Bam, ran to the oven, too late, burnt again. Third year, as I started cutting Audra's turkey up, the boys start giggling. "What's so funny you two?" I asked. Then the smell arose, YEP, burnt bisquits. By this time Mark is in stitches laughing and the boys are now rolling on the floor because they bet their father FIVE bucks I would forget about them and burn them. Well, now comes year four. I have YELLOW sticky notes ON THE TABLE and MY PLATE about the bisquits. Not this year I say to them, you can bet ME five bucks you will get bisquits. So, I cooked all day and the last thing to go in WAS the bisquits. I got the kids situated and we started carving away at the turkey. I can hear the timer and then RING, off it went and I got up to get the bisquits. As I opened the oven door, I almost cried. I had forgotten to turn the oven on. I turned around with them on the pan and just stood there, LAUGHING at myself this time. During dinner, very tenderly, Alex says, "By the way mom, don't forget, you promised us bisquits and we didn't get any so you owe us FIVE buckaroos." I think it was mashed potatoes that went flying out of Adam and Audra's mouths as they laughed along with their father that a bets a bet, and I owed them. NOW, it comes year five. I have a full proof plan I will not burn them, I will not forget them, I WILL cook them, as GOD as my witness, this year, we WILL have bisquits. From the moment the kids arise, the jokes begin. "How much you want to bet us MOM? Dad, do you want to bet us this year or do you want to bet MOM?" While everything is still in the works of cooking, Alex is in the living room running around, chanting, "SOMETHINGS BURNING IN DENMARK, SOMETHINGS BURNING IN DENMARK." Go ahead, I say, but not this year. And humming along I go with my cooking. Just as the last item is on the table I turn to the oven and assure myself it is set at 350'. In my head, over and over, 3 minutes Terry, just three minutes, and you will have bisquits and no more jokes. "OK guys, come on in, get yourselves ready, I'm gonna put the bisquits in." Then I turn to the pantry to grab the bisquits. The lovely ones from the bakery part of the grocery store that I just need to heat up for three minutes. Now, where did I put them. I can't seem to find them, and so, I look further. I thought I put them on the top shelf but maybe I didn't. THEN it hits me. I FORGOT to buy them. I am standing there so red faced and angry that I literally can't see straight. I then slowly turn around, turn the oven off, and sit down. Mark and the kids are now speechless. They are not laughing, they are not giggling. They are staring at me, CRYING like there is no tomorrow. Audra's patting my hand, Mark says, "Honey, it's OK, it's just bisquits." And out of the corner of his eye he shoots a look at the boys like I only see in church on Sundays. You know that look. The one you give your child when they start misbehaving and you can't say anything, but by the look in your eyes, you ARE saying something? Yep, that was the look. After less than a minute I am all done crying and the kids are now saying grace. When they were little, we would go around the table and each of us would say something we were thankful for. Since Alex was the middle child, we would give him the pleasure of going first or last every year. This particular year, he chose last. As we went around and said our thanks, we then come to Alex. I anticipate something about the bisquits, because the jokester he was, it was expected. I am all ready for his little bit of humor about not getting bisquits. But no, not a word about the bisquits come from Alex. The words that come out of his mouth were, "I sure am grateful my mom knows how to make stuffing, AMEN." My wonderful, sweet boy Alex.
Everyone, have a great Thanksgiving. I hope you all find something to be grateful for.