For as far back as I can remember, and at least until Thanksgiving of 1988, my Dad was the one who prepared Thanksgiving Dinner. He would get up very early and begin preparing the turkey. It was a fascinating thing to watch. He was meticulous in his preparations. He would rub precise amounts of butter and spices on the turkey, he had the skills of a surgeon as he stitched the bird shut, and he was never late when it was time to baste the turkey.
But what I remember most is the turkey dressing. I believe we referred to it as stuffing. I remember watching as he ripped loaves of bread into small pieces, and crumbled countless saltine crackers. Just the right amount of sage and poultry spices we mixed in. The best part was watching a large pot of milk being brought to a boil. You could not boil it, only bring it to the boiling point. The scalded milk was then poured over the bread and cracker concoction. This caused the beginning of the “thanksgiving day aroma” in the house and for the remainder of the day it was torture waiting for the dinner to be ready.
My family wasn’t totally traditional when it came to the Thanksgiving Day dinner. Sure, we had all the usual things, turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. But there were also pickles, pickled onions, and peppers. Probably a pickled herring or two could be found as well. There was no set time for dinner. It all depended on the mood of the turkey, and when the turkey felt it was time to be done. But it was always well worth the wait.
My second favorite part of the turkey was the following several days. Dad would make hot buttered turkey sandwiches. Basically, it was heating small pieces of turkey in a skillet with melted butter. Dad is gone now for the past 26 years. Thanksgiving has never been quite the same. But I am truly thankful the the memories. I can only hope that when I get to where he is at he is still preparing the turkey and dressing. I just can’t imagine it would be heaven without that dressing.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!