The oven was not up and running.
Despite their best efforts, and having spent the remainder of the day before tinkering around with it, Roger and Sam called it quits. The oven was dead.
Phyllis had optimistically soaked the turkey in her home-made brine anyway. Now it smelled like raw meat floating around in a stinky sock stew.
I rolled over in my bed, not wanting to start this day. What were we going to do? It’s not like we could put a turkey in the microwave oven. Last night I had taken my pies and my rolls to my best friend’s house to finish baking, but I couldn’t bring my turkey over as well. Wendy had a house full of people to cook for already, so I couldn’t go and use her oven again.
I groaned out loud. “Ugh! What are we going to do?!” I cried to Sam, who was just waking up beside me.
“I know you’re disappointed about the oven, but really, it’s not the end of the world,” he said soothingly, giving me a hug. “We can have Thanksgiving without a turkey. The stove still works. Let’s just make do with what we have. We’ll get another oven after the holiday is over.”
Grudgingly I relented. There was no point in stressing anymore over something that I had no control of. I could just make do with what we already had.
I went downstairs to find Phyllis already in the kitchen, of course. This time, however, she wasn’t scouring any of my hidden dirty corners, she was scrolling over a page on the laptop with Roger. They were talking animatedly to each other, but quickly stopped when I walked in the room. Phyllis clicked the laptop closed and motioned Roger to leave.
“What’s going on?” I asked, curious.
“Oh, Roger and I are coming up with a plan for the turkey, Honey. Don’t you even worry about it. Let’s get to work on those potatoes!”
While we peeled potatoes, Roger and Sam kept coming in and out from the garage, talking quietly to each other, laughing, and looking excited.
“Exactly what is this big plan?” I asked Phyllis.
“Don’t you worry, that turkey’s going to taste divine!”
Now I was really worried. What were they concocting out in the garage? Phyllis kept me busy in the kitchen, so I wasn’t able to sneak out and investigate for myself.
An hour later, the potatoes were peeled, bubbling happily on the stove top. At least we would have mashed potatoes. And I had some emergency gravy packets to use, since we wouldn’t have any turkey drippings to make real gravy with.
Suddenly a thought dawned on me. Without an oven to bake the turkey in, we would no longer be able to bake Phyllis’ special apple-parsnip dressing.
A tiny chorus of Allelujah’s filled my head. A tiny miracle in the midst of total darkness!
Finally the boys were ready for their big reveal. They took all of us out through the garage, including the kids, insisting that they would want to see this as well.
On the driveway was our gas stove-top camping grill, and on the grill was my canning pot, full of something bubbling. The turkey was sitting inside a washed out bucket on the ground next to the grill.
As the greasy scent of what was bubbling in the pot hit my nostrils, suddenly I knew exactly what the boys were planning.
“Are you going to deep fry our turkey?!” I cried.
They didn’t seem to notice the panic in my voice.
“Oh yes, Honey, it’s going to be delicious!” Phyllis practically giggled. “I googled how to do it online. It looks easy!”
“Yes, and did you also google how many house fires occur because of deep frying a turkey?! We don’t even have the right equipment for something like that! Have you all gone red-neck on me?!”
“Candace, calm down, it’s perfectly safe. We researched how to take precautions online too, so it’s gonna be fine.” Sam tried to reassure me.
I grabbed the kids and headed for the house.
“Well, we’re not going to be witness to whatever disaster is about to happen!”
“Mom! I want to stay! I want to watch!” the kids complained loudly, resisting my attempts to herd them inside.
“Fine, but we’re watching from over here.” I kept my arms around them, and stood in the doorway to the house.
Number 14: Candace is a party-pooper….and overprotective.
“Suit yourself,” Sam said, then, arming himself with oven mitts and a snorkel mask, “Here goes nothing!”
For the record, the turkey was actually pretty good. A little crispy, perhaps, but it was probably the best bean-sprout-fed turkey that I have ever tasted. Besides, Sam was due for a haircut anyway and the singed ends of his bangs were hardly even noticeable. Plus, we had already been thinking about getting a new garage door. The gaping black burn spot really just helped give the project a little more impetus.
We gathered around the table, beautifully decked out with paper turkeys that the kids had worked on all week. The food was spread around the table in all its abundance. Even Phyllis’ special apple-parsnip dressing had found its way back onto the menu. Ever resourceful, Phyllis had cooked most of it on the stove top, then blasted the top of it with Sam’s mini-torch, which she had found in the garage, until the dressing was as crispy as the turkey. I was surprised that she had even considered using fire twice in one day, as the memory of her throwing one of my grandma’s heirloom afghans over Sam’s head when his hair caught on fire with the turkey was still prominent in my mind, but the second usage was uneventful, other than the triggered smoke alarm, which we forgot was linked to our automatic house alarm system. I’m sure that the kind people at the fire department didn’t mind making a second visit to our house in one day, sirens blazing, hoses ready, only to find Phyllis torching up the Thanksgiving dressing.
As I sat there, looking at each of these people that I loved, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. We had so much to be thankful for. And even though we were a crazy lot of people, thrown in to muddle through this crazy life together, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
While the men snoozed in front of the football game after dinner, I spent the evening stretched out on the floor going through the ads for Black Friday. It was the biggest shopping day of the year, and there was no way that I was going to miss it.
Phyllis looked at a few ads, but wasn’t all that interested. Instead, she propped her feet up on the couch and worked on her Sudoku puzzles. She was crazy good at Sudoku.
Wendy was going to be my shopping partner. I had learned in years past, that in order to successfully navigate a Black Friday shopping experience, it was vital to have a shopping partner. Wendy was a tenacious and fearless shopper. She once took an old man down, beating him to the screaming deal of $10 for a complete set of 400 thread-count king-sized sheets, taking the last pack. You just can’t get any better than that.
I knew that this Black Friday was going to be just as legendary.