Cold Turkey

Dear Will:

It’s Thanksgiving morning. My mother is coming over, and so are my in-laws, which is another way of saying that Dana has been worrying and stressing and prepping for this day for weeks. The last couple of days have produced a frenzy of kitchen activity, most of which I have observed from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy. But today I got my chance to step up and actually contribute. Today my lone assignment was to get the bird into the oven. Not wanting to screw up this seemingly simple assignment, I even got up extra early to be sure I got it right—only to discover (about an hour too late) that I had miscalculated the roasting time. So I did great, except that it looks like the main course will be done long before any of the guests arrive.

“What’s the best way to get people to quit coming to your house for Thanksgiving? Cold turkey.”

As perhaps you can sense, we’re really no good at this stuff. We have one or two go-to menus that we haul out pretty much every time we have guests over, but we decided we really can’t get away with grilled salmon or marinated flank steak today. So Dana has turned to The Pioneer Woman for counsel, plotting and scheming a menu so elaborate that we’ll still be eating leftovers when next Thanksgiving rolls around.

Speaking of Thanksgiving rolls, every year my sister Nancy makes these potato rolls (key ingredient: lots and lots of butter) that have become my boys’ favorite item on the menu. Which is great except that Nancy won’t be joining us this year. Now Dana’s no idiot: She knows that it would be foolhardy to take someone else’s signature recipe and try to replicate the magic, so she declared early on that this year there would be (alas) no potato rolls. Her husband protested but to no avail. When Luke and Seth protested, however, loudly and vehemently and with technique refined over many years of practiced manipulation, mother-love trumped reason and Dana agreed to give it a go.

So there’s hope, in other words—hope that the day will not be a total fiasco after all. What I’m banking on is that Dana’s rolls will be so tasty that maybe everyone will forget about the cold, desiccated turkey. Or at least the boys will—which will at least solve the potential whining problem. That’s certainly something to be thankful for, right?

For that, and for the pie. I think if you performed some sort of anthropological reconstruction of the history of Thanksgiving, or ran some kind of elaborate regression analysis of data going back to Chief Massasoit himself, you would come to the indisputable conclusion that pie is the central reason that the Thanksgiving tradition persists. To me, you could pretty much skip the stuffing and potatoes and parsnips (especially the parsnips), ditch the cranberry sauce and the other 12 dishes we are somehow supposed to get onto a single plate, and still have a hugely successful feast. Rolls for dinner. Pie for dessert. Nap on sofa. Who could ask for anything more?

That, in any case, is my official position on the day in which the turkey went into the oven three hours too soon. We’re all here for the pie anyway, right everybody? Right? Who’s with me?


Photo by Timothy Wolff on Unsplash

A Gratitude List


Dear Will:

Two or three weeks ago, my wife and I invited the kids to help us make a list of the things we’re thankful for. After writing down 100 or so, we left the pad of paper out and invited everyone in the family to add to the list as we counted down the days until Thanksgiving. I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the items on the final list we came up with:

Luke, Bryn, and Seth (our kids)
Dana (my wife)
Barnum (the dog)
Gordon B. Hinckley (the Prophet)
Saturday soccer games
Cookies—especially warm ones
Gaynor Mindens (ballet shoes)
A good bed
Chip & Pounce (stuffed animals)
Books and stories
The Book of Mormon
The beach
Electric lights
The Temple
Good music
Mountain lakes
The Olympics
Good theater
Sunrises & sunsets
Hot showers
Thomas Jefferson
The UCLA Bruins
The rumba (don’t ask)
The Armed Forces
Family time
The stars & moon
Good food in abundance
Swimming pools
Flush toilets
Abraham Lincoln
Taking walks with Bryn
Good movies
A peaceful neighborhood
Down comforters
Hot chocolate
Puffy clouds
Grateful kids
Playing ball with Seth
Best friends
Really cool rocks

As you might guess, the full list also includes a lot of our favorite people, including neighbors, teachers, and friends.

Isn’t it great to be reminded each November to take time to notice the things we are most grateful for? Hope you enjoyed a terrific Thanksgiving.