Sometimes it’s a problem that turkeys only have two legs, especially if you have many at the table. This year that won’t be a problem here. We have plenty of parts.This year we are having the best Thanksgiving ever (the best of many best, of course) and it’s largely because of the company we keep.
We are having no family this year. None. Not a child, a parent, a sister or nephew or brother-in-law. Sad, our first year here in our new home in Chicago, yes? No. Everybody will be here for Christmas and I’m already playing musical beds in my head but tomorrow we will dine with my oldest friends, forever.
I met Pete and Julie when we lived kitty corner from each other in small little "village" townhouses when we were still students. The village, originally built to house munitions workers moving up from Kentucky to work in Willow Run during the war, was cozy home to many students and young families- a step up from regular student housing and worth the bus trip to campus. Solid, very compact, attractive two bedroom units, each had a little basement and, amazingly, someone had the foresight to plan wide open common green spaces in the middle of each block.
Pete was in law school, Julie had completed nursing school and was working at the hospital and I was in graduate school. They already had a head start on a family with a baby and a toddler. We quickly became friends as their children attached themselves to my cats. That was 34 years ago.
We all finished school, raised our families and attended the milestones of each others lives. Julie and I flew Red Cross flights to rescue orphaned children at the end of the Vietnam War. Their daughter was my flower girl, Julie was my matron of honor. Julie was a pediatric nurse practitioner by the time I had Dan and she nursed me through post partum depression and the trials and tribulations of- nursing. We went to the same church and I still have one of those clear visual memories of the day my daughter was christened. When my marriage dissolved Peter had the good grace to not be my lawyer. We bought homes, sold homes, sent children to college.
Since this is the time in life, and we are the "sandwich" generation, the four of us know what it’s like to tend both parents and children simultaneously. This past year has been a challenge for us all in our own way. They have helped with a grandson born desperately ill and cared for an aging mother. Peter lost a sister to cancer right around the time that my mother died.
How does it happen, then, that the four of us are without children for this holiday? Partly divine intervention, I think-family is going to other family- and partly because we were all ready for a cozy grown-up weekend without family.
Tomorrow they come on the train and Rich will pick them up while I put the finishing touches on a light lunch. The weather is predicted to be glorious- sunny and 52!- so we’ll walk up to the zoo and along the lakeshore to work up an appetite for the main event. Friday, I’m guessing we lose the guys to football for at least part of the day so Julie and I will go shopping for yarn and tea. Then we’ll head downtown for the lighting of the tree in Daley Plaza and check out the Chriskindlmarket.
I love to cook and I cook a lot, even here in Chicago where it’s easy to get sidetracked by great restaurants on every corner. I use my food processor almost every single day for one thing or another. Tomorrow I’ll use it to make a curry dip for lunch and later to slice onions into small strings to be fried and top the green beans. I’ll use it to whip cream and knead the dough for rolls and so forth.
When we moved, the process of unpacking into a much smaller space helped me figure out exactly where everything was. In all that move and transition, only two things got lost: the dough blade and the blade stem to my Cuisinart. In the past three months there hasn’t been a day gone by that I haven’t searched all over again, certain that they are here somewhere. I’ve been thinking lately that they went out with the same color moving paper everything was wrapped in but I was so careful about checking all that for small items.
About three weeks ago I was really feeling handicapped with just the main blade and decided I had to stop looking and replace them before the holidays. I could have gone on the web site for Cuisinart replacement parts- I actually looked there-but I’m so cheap I decided to look on eBay. Yea! I found them. "Ship quickly, ship quickly!" I implored. Seeing as this was only the third transaction for this seller and I later determine him to be about 13 years old, he incorrectly listed the machines they would match. Wrong parts. Ah, well, only 12.00 down the drain. I could afford to bid again. I found more parts. "Priority mail, Priority mail!" I begged. This seller just out righted lied about what machines the parts would fit- and the problem is, they all look alike in the photos- they vary with only a minor internal misfit. They got here fast and they don’t work on my machine. Four days ago, at the point where I was down more money than if I had just bought the parts new, I desperately bid on a blade stem but no dough blade and paid the new price because she promised to ship overnight. That means the blade stem should arrive in today’s mail. We’ll see.
So, the glass is half empty and I’ve spent 50.00 unnecessarily on miscellaneous parts. And yet, the glass is more than half full because now I have all these parts plus spare parts. And I can cook Thanksgiving dinner in style. If you have a Cuisinart and you need or want extra parts, drop me a line. I have parts for the DC8 and DC10 and I’ll send them to you, snail mail, gratis.
Gratis. Gratitude.That’s the thing. It’s been a trying year. For me, for some of my good friends, my family- maybe for you. And yet. When I think about what I have to be thankful about I get that same overwhelming feeling I get when I look up at a really good night sky.
Bud will be sharing a smoked turkey I sent up with his next door neighbors and when I talked to him yesterday he ended the conversation by saying, "Well, this is going to be hard without mama. I sure do miss her. But you know, I’ll be with you and your sisters and brother and Max at Christmas and Thursday I’ll have Donna and Ray and a smoked turkey. And these goddamn cats- Robert, get offa there! So it will be okay."
It will be okay. He’s got that right. We’ll be at the table with friends and the company of good memories and prayers for a world where everyone is fed to full and nourished by love. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.