To be Thankful for a Turkey - A Thanksgiving Story
There can be no argument how much of a tradition Thanksgiving is here in America. More people travel on this holiday to be with family than they do for Christmas. The family just has to get together on this day and eat until they can eat no more. With all these gatherings always comes some story to tell that years later you retell over and over with laughter from everyone. Well here is one such story that I think of each time I pull the turkey out of the oven.
One of my closest friends in the world is from Iran. She (Nancy, I’ll call her for this article) came over to this country seeking asylum. When she first arrived, she stayed with a relative (Mary) who had lived here many years. Her family here in the States had never celebrated Thanksgiving in their homes. What they knew about the annual holiday is what they had seen on TV. But like anyone else, they wanted to show their guest what a big day Thanksgiving could be.
Mary looked through magazines and cookbooks to see what should be served at a Thanksgiving dinner. She was going to be on the best Thanksgiving spread that had ever been done. For days she prepped for it. The day of, she spent hours in the kitchen getting it all together.
The time came for the meal. The whole family gathered around the table including Nancy and her daughter. The turkey was brought out. It was just beautiful. The skin was the most perfect golden brown that would make Martha Steward envious. Everyone oohed and ahhed over it as Mary sat it down.
Mary began to carve the turkey. As the knife first sliced through that perfectly roasted skin, blood trickled down to the plate. She continued cutting and when she lifted the piece of turkey up everyone saw where the perfectly golden skin hid a perfectly raw turkey. Very quickly a few people made their way to the bathroom to get sick. Needless to say, there was no turkey eaten that day.
The next Thanksgiving was the one that Nancy spent with us. Every year I invite my in-laws, their in-laws, and my father-in-law’s close friend who doesn’t have anywhere to go on that day. Since Nancy and her daughter were living with us at that time, they were also included in the family gathering. I noticed that Nancy was a little nervous as she asked me what foods we were having. I did not know about the previously raw turkey at this time. I showed her how we made cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries. She helped me make pumpkin pies and chocolate pies. She watched as we made the dressing. The turkey she closely observed me every step of the way and asked a million questions. She asked me if by putting it in the oven at 6:00 AM was enough time to cook it for a 1:00 dinner. I assured it that it was.
It was time for our meal and I put the turkey on the table. Nancy reached out and held her daughter’s hand. She was wondering if raw turkey was the traditionally eaten meat for Thanksgiving. My husband began to cut the turkey when the prayer was over. She watched intently for the blood to begin to run. There was none. When he lifted the meat, perfectly moist cooked turkey was revealed to all. Nancy began to laugh. Then she told us the story of the raw turkey. To this day we both comment on it when we eat turkey.
Nancy lives in Los Angeles now with her re-united family. But each Thanksgiving I lift a toast to my “sister” who taught me how to be thankful for my freedom here in America and to be thankful for fully cooked turkeys.