My brother and I were always early risers, but on this day, Thanksgiving day, mom and dad were already in full production mode.
I would jump off my top bunk bed, inevitably knocking something off the shelves.
Dave and I would race down the narrow hallway. Our feet would feel the cold seeping up through that old floor.
We often got caught in the doorway leading to the kitchen. Kind of like a cartoon, or old 3 Stooges movie.... my brother is a year older and bigger than I am, so the result was predictable.
We explode into the kitchen, where mom and dad are already hard at work...
Mom makes the most wonderful, delectable stuffing....EVER! I'm sure this magical recipe could only be the result of Devine intervention!
It's the kind of food you eat until you're full......then eat more until you're stuffed....then eat more until you've reached some sort of drunken euphoria....
It is SO good, that when your Uncle Danny takes the last spoonful, red flashes before your eyes and a physical altercation is almost certain to ensue! The fact he could (still can) tear me apart, limb from limb, is NOT what stops me..... what stops me is my inability to move since I had already eaten my body weight of this heavenly, God inspired, concoction!
|Joe's mom and dad|
Dad would throw slices of bread in the oven to toast them. Mom was cooking.....stuff. I had no clue what she was cooking, because as she was doing that, I was intrigued by the fact that dad's arm was completely up a dead turkey's butt....a vision that haunts me to this day....
|Joe's dad--and his arm...|
Was he looking for something?
Was Jimmy Hoffa in there?!
After mom's cooking, dad's homemade croutons, (and severe violation of the bird), they got out the hand grinder!!!!
We loved the hand grinder! It was the centerpiece of this holiest of holy days!
Dad attached the grinder to the kitchen table, and all three of us kids took turns turning that hand grinder.
We ground the croutons, the mysterious stuff mom had been cooking, celery, onions, kitchen chairs, old coffee cups.... and nearly our fingertips..
It is funny how we WANTED to do this. Mom and dad pulled the ol' Tom Sawyer trick on us! Until the day I moved out, we still jockeyed for position at the "grinder station".
I remember the anticipation as I waited in line....mom and dad actually used a timer! That timer felt like a calendar while I impatiently waited..
After filling every pan in the house (and pans from all neighbors within a 3 mile radius) with this magical substance, mom refrigerated all of them, in turn.
Now, this was all an exact process that required things to be done in a certain way, in a certain order, for a certain time. We may have needed a full moon and some chanting.... I was never trusted with the entire spell....I mean, recipe.
Later, mom would pull the foil covered pans from refrigeration, and dad would start the baking process.
I have a tear in my eye as I write this, thinking of that....that most wonderful, happy, loving, smell, that wafted through our home....
I can still smell it...
Once done cooking, you waited a specific amount of time.
What did mom call that?....
A resting time?
I didn't care, I just counted the seconds until I could inhale it!
Mom made enough to last approximately 7 months.... and we never tired of it.
Breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks, and frozen stuffing on a stick for dessert....and we loved it!
It really was a family event, though the kids really only did the grinder and ate it......and marveled about how far dad's arm got up the turkey's butt.....but it was tradition. A wonderful tradition that I'm so sorry I never passed to my kids....
The only tradition I passed down was pulling those Swanson frozen dinners from the freezer and throwing them in the microwave.
If only I had jammed my arm in one...