I am avid about Thanksgiving. Unlike Christmas, Easter, Victoria Day and Labour Day, it is a holiday I have never been able to shun. I love that there are no presents, no bunnies, nobody dying on a cross. Just a traditional meal with friends or family and a notion of gratefulness. What’s not to like?
But I am never quite organized enough. My Thanksgiving dinners, when I host them, are often tinged with near-disaster. Always, there is a happy ending. But the rising and falling action can be vexing.
By 11:04 a.m., on the Saturday before the dinner I am hosting, I am on the phone with The Gay Teacher. I hope you enjoy your leisurely preparation for the dinner he says. Leisurely? Preparation? I say. I have done nothing, I protest. I Don’t. Even. Have. A Turkey.
Oh. My. God. Go. Go get the turkey NOW says The Teacher, mild hysteria rising in his voice. Leave.The House. Now.
I make myself a latte. I have a nice little lunch of sliced heirloom tomatoes, hummous, and multi-grain bread from the farmer’s market. I read the Style section of the Saturday paper and note that red is the new black. (Does make black the new red? I wonder).
By 12:45 I am at the small, jovial Italian butcher’s at Bloor and Ossington. I vaguely remember buying an organic turkey there, years before. The butcher smiles pityingly when I make my futile enquiry. He tries to sell me chicken instead.
I go for coffee and pastry. I try on clothes at a consignment shop, finding nothing red. I bicycle around. I. Am. In. Denial.
And then I see it: a hand drawn sign saying FRESH TURKEY with a hand drawn turkey beneath it, much like the simulacra we had to colour in elementary school.
By 2:50 I am happily lined up with the Portuguese and Jamaican housewives at O Nosso Talho Butcher on Bloor Street West, a 12.6 lb turkey in my hands, the smallest bird I can find. I have absolutely no idea how to cook it. The bird is leaking a macabre trail of pink liquid. I glance around to see if anyone notices. The women behind me are oblivious to my bloody wake. They are discussing mushroom sauce in hushed, velvety voices. and I grin at them. They glance haughtily at my turkey, unimpressed. They’re doing chicken this year. With the mushroom sauce it will be incredible.
I bicycle home, just as a brewing thunderstorm begins to paint the sky with grey watercolour wash. The turning leaves become luminious, as colours sometimes do, just before rain.