One November day long ago, our older son Harry, called home from UVA with an unusual request—“Mom, can you tell me how to cook a turkey?”
When our children were young, I encouraged both of our sons as well as our daughter, to learn to cook. Harry found it a pleasant pastime. His culinary creations were usually desserts or caramels to give for Christmas gifts. He even baked a cake for his sixth grade teacher at Raleigh Court Elementary School for Valentine’s Day.
But a turkey? He explained that he planned to cook a Thanksgiving dinner for three friends and their dates, but he needed a bit of advice before beginning. So I tried to remember all the steps for roasting the big bird, hoping I did not omit any crucial details. He felt confident he could manage the vegetables, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce without my help. As soon as the call ended, I made a note to give him a cookbook for Christmas.
Harry reported that the dinner went well, except for the gravy. It was lumpy. Heartened by his success, many years later when he was pursuing a second law degree at the University of Munich, he planned another Thanksgiving dinner for his German friends who had not experienced this special American custom. This time his request was beyond my capability. He could not find a turkey in any of the markets; would I send him one?
Now just how does one send a turkey by airmail to Germany? Regretfully, I explained it was not possible. Later he called again. The good news was that he had found turkeys! The bad news was they were fifty dollars each – and he had to buy two, since his guest list had grown to twenty. But he still had a grocery list of items for me to send for this affair – things that were not available in German markets: two bags of Pepperidge Farm dressing and several cans of cranberry sauce. One of his friends had offered his home for the celebration and Harry was pleased to learn that the kitchen had two ovens. He was so exuberant I determined to do my part to make this dinner a success. So I went grocery shopping and mailed a very heavy package of the aforementioned items to Germany. I was pleased to learn that although he could not find pumpkin in Germany he had decided to bake coconut pies instead.
Harry no longer needs to have his mother send him groceries via air mail. He recently bought a farm in Rockbridge County, and now has FIVE white “turkeys in waiting” who will soon take their turns in becoming Thanksgiving dinners.
Life sure changes fully and fast.