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Creating a new tradition
Sudie Crouch

It’s hard to re-create a Thanksgiving like I had growing up.

It was even hard for Granny after a certain point.

Beginning with the year she pressure cooked the turkey, Thanksgiving has been a recurring culinary disaster.

Cole, thankfully, had no memories of the rubbery bird from years ago. If he had, it would probably be what prompted him to be a vegetarian.

Even the beagle wouldn’t eat it, and we know what beagles will eat.

But that was the beginning of the end of good Thanksgiving meals.

The following year, Mama bought a pre-made meal, which Granny groused about the whole time.

Another year, Granny’s oven gave out the day before, so she announced we were eating pizza as we walked in the door.
“At least she didn’t cook the turkey in the pressure cooker again,” Mama whispered as she hugged us.

There was a year where I bought Cracker Barrel that was good but honestly, pulling lids off take out pans did not feel the same.

The following year, I had ordered a prepared dinner that I could just reheat and serve.

The turkey, however, was raw. 

I had assured Mama all we needed to do was pop it in the over for half an hour and we’d be ready to eat. The squeals from my mother as she got covered in turkey juice were darn near unhuman.

That woman does not like any kind of raw poultry juice, not that I can blame her.

Last year, I got fried chicken for Thanksgiving.

It was the best Thanksgiving dinner we’ve had in a number of years, to say the least, but it just didn’t feel like Thanksgiving.

We tried so hard to recreate that feeling of Thanksgivings past, that we failed. Horribly.

I wanted to have that sleepy and tummy-full feeling only the tryptophan coma from turkey can induce.

I wanted leftovers that lasted for days and that I got sick of moving around in the fridge.

I wanted to not have to go to the grocery store the next day to get stuff for a make-up meal.

And I wanted to have to wash a mountain of dishes after cooking all day.

Well, maybe that last one is a bit of a stretch; I never want to wash dishes.

I didn’t want to fool with a whole turkey though.

It’s kind of gross in a way when you think about the things you must do to a bird.

Lamar wants a fried turkey, but we do not have a fryer.

“That’s the only way to eat turkey,” he said.

He’s eaten plenty of non-fried turkey, so he doesn’t need to start getting picky.

Instead, I thought I’d get turkey breast; that should be more than enough for just us and easier to make.

When I inquired at the store, the man directed me to one that was already cooked and, get this, deep fried. Lamar may get his turkey wish after all, at least flavor wise.
“Perfect,” I said.

I decided I didn’t need dressing.

That may be sacrilegious to some, but dressing has always been something I found disgusting.

Lamar doesn’t like dressing either, and Cole can’t remember what it tastes like.

“It’s been so long since I had a real Thanksgiving meal, I don’t remember any of this stuff,” he said. “But why would anyone mix stale bread together and bake it?”
I have wondered the same thing myself.

“Are we going to have to sides?” Cole asked. “And what will you fix me since I am a vegetarian; I can’t have turkey, you know?”
What was I going to feed the child?

“Veggie chicken strips?” he suggested looking at the meatless options in the store.

That sounded fine to me. I also offered pasta of some kind, too.
“What else are you going to have?” he asked.

I ran down the list of sides: corn on the cob, green beans, sweet potato something – I wasn’t sure if it would be soufflé or candied yams yet – mac and cheese and maybe some mashed potatoes, too. A carb fest sure to induce a nap by 1 p.m.

“I don’t think I need anything but the sides!” he said.

And a pie. I bought a pie. I didn’t want to be worried about dessert, so I bought a coconut cream pie – one I would not be tempted to eat and would never make, but knew they liked.

I was almost getting excited about Thanksgiving.

I texted Mama, telling her my plans and they were welcomed if they wanted to drive. She said they would take a raincheck.

I was disappointed but understood her not wanting to drive two hours to eat when the last seven years or so have been unpalatable.

We had given up on Thanksgiving.

Our tradition of having a table full of Granny’s cooking faded into memory a long time ago and now, it was time to replace it with a new one.

My low-key, lazy-girl preparations are not exactly spectacular when compared to what will be going on some other people’s tables Thursday.

But hopefully, it will herald a new tradition of having an edible Thanksgiving dinner.