by Janice Price
You’re going to have Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of Pat.
The thought is strong and explicit, but confusing. Mother and I are okay with our plans for a Thanksgiving dinner of macaroni and cheese. It doesn’t matter that we can’t afford a big meal this year. We are still thankful for our blessings.
You’re going to have Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of Pat. This thought is insistent.
I add the last of the clothes to the washer and return to my desk to read the mail. There is an envelope from my friend Pat, but no check. Still, You’re going to have Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of Pat. By now I am thinking I am losing my mind.
The phone rings. Mother is excited. “Jan, I got a card from Pat. She sent me a check for our Thanksgiving dinner.”
The following day I will receive a note from Pat, “Your mother is treating you to Thanksgiving dinner.” But when I pick up the check Mother and I decide we should stick to the easy and cheap macaroni and cheese. Before I reach the bank, I remember how explicit the thought was earlier. I decide that if God says we are having Thanksgiving dinner that’s what we should purchase. There will be no dessert. A turkey and trimmings take all but fifty cents of the check. I stop at another store and spend that on an onion for the dressing.
Forty-eight hours later I start dinner preparations. I have learned to cook holiday meals the evening before, then pack our meals to reheat in the microwave at Mother’s home. I find the neck and giblets are frozen inside the turkey. They jiggle out under running water.
My brother Doug drops off some ice cream and laundry. “How long did you say that bird has been cooking?” he asks when I check on the small turkey. There is no tantalizing aroma floating around the kitchen.
“Three hours,” I reply.
“Something is wrong. It should be done by now. Are you sure the oven is working right?”
“It’s okay,” I say with more confidence that I am feeling.
Inside, I am praying: God, something definitely is wrong. Please don’t let me poison Mother with this turkey.
The phone rings. My friend Johnnie inquires, “Would you and your mother like for me to fix you a plate tomorrow? We’ll be glad to share with you. We’re having ham.”
I start to decline and remember this turkey is not cooperating like the turkeys in years past. “That would be wonderful, Johnnie. Thanks.”
I remove the aluminum foil tent and raise the oven temperature just a tad. An hour and ten minutes later I stick a meat thermometer in three different locations. All three readings tell me the internal temperature is higher than it needs to be. The turkey is done. It is well past dinnertime and I am famished, so I slice a little and nibble, but I am feeling a bit uneasy about whether the turkey is safe to eat.
I’m going to die is my first thought when I waken at 3:00 a.m. The back and leg pain went to bed with me but everything else is new. I decide to check on the turkey and see if it smells okay, so I pull the pan out of the refrigerator. It hooks the handle of a water pitcher and half a gallon of cold water flows through the refrigerator, into the vegetable bins and over the floor. I dump a sleeping cat off of the nearest cloth – Doug’s white shirts - for the refrigerator and grab a rag for the floor.
At 5:00 a.m., I find the thermometer and check my temperature - 95.6º. I am not running a fever and I don’t have food poisoning. It is just a reaction to the changing weather and rising humidity. I manage a couple of hours of rest.
I am clumsy, befogged, and occasionally dizzy Thanksgiving morning. It is all I can do to shower, prepare a pot of tea, pour the liquid into two thermoses, and feed the animals. I take two aspirin with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and find a tube of muscle rub for my neck. These are barely finished and Johnnie is on her way with the food.
“I’ll tell you later what a lifesaver you are,” I tell her as I accept the two meals that include dessert.
I put the thermoses of tea and the bags of food into the car and drive to Mother’s house.
“What’s in this?” Mother asks as she looks at a covered container.
“I have no idea,” I tell her. “I didn’t pack this.”
Mother is surprised to find a ham dinner and a special dish just for her. “Didn’t you cook the turkey?”
Later, Doug calls. “My friend Theresa is sending a little something for you and Mother. I’ll be by with the plates shortly.”
I believe God has a sense of humor. It is times such as this that I believe it the most. While I was unable to sleep early this morning, I read in Psalms 111:5a, “He provides food for those who fear him.”
© 2004 Janice Price