Getting ready for Thanksgiving is a lot of work. We flipped a few cushions over to a cleaner side. Sometimes, we flipped them back over. We vacuumed the vacuum. We dusted spots no one would ever think to look, let alone dust.
The day after Thanksgiving, I woke in a pool of gravy. "Hurt" by Johnny Cash played on the radio.
I took a leisurely walk to clear the air and access the holiday. Definitely a success, I decided. I love to cook for people. So a holiday based around eating is right up my alley.
A few things were learned. Like, no matter how many times you think this is your last trip to the grocery, it's not. Every time I passed a grocery, I'd stop and buy a six-pack of beer and a bag of onions. My credit card company probably thinks my breath smells terrible.
And I learned Thanksgiving is a lot of work. My wife and I cleaned the house at a faster pace than our daughters could destroy it. We flipped a few cushions over to a cleaner side. Sometimes, we flipped them back over. We vacuumed the vacuum. We dusted spots no one would ever think to look, let alone dust.
We moved furniture, and turned our not-quite-big-enough table into one that could fit everybody. We cleaned out the fridge to make room for everything.
I called Ferraro's in Canton and ordered pies, a tradition for us. And we drove through icy slush into Amish country to pick up our bird, who was probably living the day before.
I spent a day cooking stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and macaroni and cheese. The mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy would be done on Thanksgiving. And I swung by the store to pick up beer and a bag of onions.
The compost bin outside was overflowing with potato peels, celery stumps and coffee grounds.
My daughters were eager to tell me they wanted to help. But they didn't. There was too much excitement elsewhere. So, as I cooked, I called them in to help with the good parts, like putting marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole. It was a simple task that required a lot of tasting.
"Girls, you want to see a turkey heart?" I called out. Their footsteps pounded on the wood floor.
"Ewww!" they decided immediately. The tubes still were attached.
I showed them the turkey neck. "Ewww!" they declared.
And I showed them the liver. "Hmm, that's kind of shiny looking," my daughter said. When I told them I would take the heart and the neck and cook it down for hours and make the most delicious gravy ever, they did not share my enthusiasm.
And when our clean house smelled perfect, it was slowly filled with family. And we hugged and talked, drank and laughed. And we ate more food than anyone should.
I often think about fun, and how the things we see as the most fun don't hold up as much as other moments. Years from now, I won't remember that thrilling roller coaster, but I will remember a great day with family where my wife and I put in some serious work.
In fact, I think all of the best memories are hard earned. As time passes, the hard work doesn't seem so hard. And the lasting memory leaves a good taste in your mouth.
Reach Dave at 330-580-8490 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @DaveManley