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Like many families, we won’t be traveling for Thanksgiving this year.
We’re sticking close to home, staying safe, trying to do our small part to keep Maine and the people we love healthy.
But the adjustments are a bit … inconsistent.
We bought a turkey. I’m not sure why. They take forever to cook and may be my least favorite bird. We debated getting fancy and spatchcocking it, but instead we’ll probably just put it in the oven for what seems like a 40-hour work week. Based on simple arithmetic, I’d say we only have to eat about five pounds each.
We ordered two pies. Our family is not two-pies big.
The list of sides we’re making reads like the menu of the Great Lost Bear in Portland. It just goes on and on. Yesterday, there was a late addition. Instead of just rolls, we’re also making croissants.
That’s probably all the kids will eat anyway – the Xbox is awaiting and she’s a cruel mistress for a 15-year-old boy stuck in the house.
We also put up a big tent in the backyard. Because why not?
Thinking back on holidays past, the ones I remember best aren’t necessarily the best ones to remember.
My daughter was just toddling one Thanksgiving and we had gone on Friday to the Christmas tree lighting in downtown Portland. It was cold and the piece of crap stroller we had just couldn’t navigate the sidewalks and crowds. I had had enough.
The next day, I made my way over to the Babies ’R Us store to find a replacement. Wandering around the store, I caught my foot on a foam Elmo couch, went tuchus over tea kettle. Broke that left leg in two places.
Sitting on the floor of the store in a cold sweat, I did what any normal person would do. I gathered myself up, stumbled out of the store to the car and called my wife to see if we had health insurance. She had just switched jobs, and I wasn’t sure we were covered.
With a “yes, why” from my wife, I drove myself on over to the emergency room for a little post-Thanksgiving care.
A few years later, celebrating the family feast with the in-laws in Holden, we decided to make a “trash can turkey.” Sure, why wouldn’t you cook the centerpiece of the biggest meal of the year in a metal trash can outside? Frees up oven space for more pie.
Sitting down to eat, we made a startling discovery. An ember from the makeshift outside oven had hitch-hiked into the garage and set it ablaze. The smoke pouring in the door was the giveaway.
There are several versions of this story, but only one is accurate and honest-to-God true. My wife might say that she and my son were abandoned in the basement playing Ping Pong during the commotion.
Several other exaggerators might say that they saved the day with shovels full of snow and the way they fearlessly rushed into the smoke.
Truth be told, it was I who calmly walked to the closet, retrieved the fire extinguisher and, as if trained to do such things, saved the day. That’s my story. I’ve stuck to it for nearly a decade.
Over the years, my wife and I have had Christmas meals from the heat-lamp section of truck stops. Corn dogs are always my favorite.
We’ve spent the hours in hospitals, sitting with my sick parents. Or driving for hours to make it to family gatherings.
We spent one Thanksgiving along the Dordogne River in France with family and friends. It was on that trip that we got engaged. Of all the Thanksgivings, I guess that one 23 years ago is the one I remember the best.
And the fire. I remember the fire.
For Thanksgiving this year, I hope that you are all healthy and safe and stay that way, and that the memories that you make are the good kind — the ones about overcoming and persisting and saving the day.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and don’t break a leg.
David Farmer is a public affairs, political and media consultant in Portland, where he lives with his wife and two children.