I am out of the habit of holidays. For during my forty years as a registered nurse I have never had more than a handful off. In the years when it was not my turn to work Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve I worked the holiday anyway, filling in for people to whom these days meant more than they did to me.
But now my job does not require I work holidays at all, and the regular staff is not allowed to replace themselves with an " as needed" worker as expensive as I would be making time and a half.
I had two sweet invitations to dinner, but I turned both down. I am not much for mandatory merriment, and I loathe turkey, so this gave me a quiet day to cook garlic chicken and listen to Aaron Copland and George Gershwin on WQXR on-line. It was one of the best holidays I have ever spent.
In the flush 80's when the Catholic hospital I worked at was successful, the nuns gave out turkeys during the holidays. I always gave my bird away. Alas that hospital, now deep in the red, no longer even offers cafeteria service and hot meals to its night staff. A heartless and pointless decision. In my opinion.
But I digress, for the subject was turkey. How much better a holiday Thanksgiving would be with a pork loin or a pot roast or a nicely browned roast chicken.
For the problem with Thanksgiving is that people who never cook or do not know how to cook think that they have to, and the turkey is not a roast for amateurs to inflict on family or guests. Even I, who have some culinary skill, would not attempt to roast a bird the size of a bulldog and expect to produce something edible.
How I remember my last family Thanksgiving. My aunt cooked the turkey, and the men folk announced to the table how relieved they were that the turkey was not too dry. Faint praise indeed, for a dutiful meal. At this point one of the male family comedians might have made a joke that the turkey tasted like chicken.
But even they could not get away with that. It did not taste like chicken. It tasted like paper towels.
Stuffed with food we felt too guilty not to eat, we would then settle in front of the TVs, where there were two options for holiday viewing- Football and "Tora! Tora! Tora".
"Touchdown!" yelled one screen. "Climb Mount Niitaka!" screamed the other. Entirely too much bellicosity for the women, who went out for a late walk along a wood road in the forest up the hill.
And since I have years of Thanksgivings ahead of me(I hope), I will opt for lighter, tastier fare, cooked by me, and enjoyed by me and my two hounds alone if necessary. I will be sufficiently thankful for that.
Yet out of the past I can still hear Admiral Yamamoto's voice booming from the TV screen.
"I am afraid that all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant", he intones.
Yes, we have.
It is The Great Turkey, Charlie Brown, and no one knows how to cook it-