I didn't cook my first turkey until I was 35 years old.
Hard to believe, isn't it?
Not if you live in our house.
For 35 years I'd done a pretty good job flying under the radar, bringing the green bean casserole and similar side dishes.
But then I decided to host Thanksgiving and pretend I was all grown up.
This involved getting up at 6 a.m. to prepare the bird (one word: gross).
Since this was such a momentous occasion, I convinced my mom (or maybe it was Scott?) to document it on videotape. I could tell you exactly who was behind the camera if I'd take the time to watch the tape. But, I've been off family videos for about a year now. When you're trying to hold it together for the rest of your family, function at work, and convince yourself you can do this, you do everything you can to keep up the facade. And right now that means not watching family videos. At some point I will. When I can schedule in time to fall into a puddle of tears on the floor and not come out of the house for a few days.
Anyway, back to Thanksgiving 2011.
I'm preparing the bird and Addie stumbles out of her room (it's 6 a.m. remember). She takes a look at the turkey, faces the camera and deadpans, "So I guess mom cooks now."
And I guess I don't need a videotape to remember that moment.
That's one memory fixed firmly in my mind.
I relive it often. And it makes me smile.
And double over in pain.
That was the first time I cooked a turkey.
And, the last.
Thanksgiving hasn't been all that great the last two years.
Year one was a complete disaster.
I was one week postpartum and eight months out from losing Addie. I wanted nothing to do with Thanksgiving. My family was fractured.
But my mom showed up with something called a turkey loaf (because that's what moms do). She cooked it up, plus a handful of other Thanksgiving side dishes, all the while taking care of Landry and taking care of me. God. Bless. That. Woman.
The timer went off, dinner was served. I took my spot at the table and tears fell right onto the turkey loaf. This was the first time we'd sat at the table as a family without Addie.
We haven't sat down as a family since.
Year two was a bit softer. We went to my mom and dad's house, a house Addie never set foot into, which somehow makes things easier as there isn't a memory lurking around every corner. We had real turkey. It was nice, uneventful.
Now we're on year three.
And I'm trying. Really, I am.
That's the important thing, right?
I bought a turkey. A teeny-tiny 6 pound bird, but a turkey nonetheless. I bought stuffing. And a box of instant potatoes. Corn. A spice cake mix.
I know, I know. It sounds like Thanksgiving out of a box.
But this is progress.
And then I got sick. Pre-Thanksgiving diet sick.
Perhaps that was a sign.
Thanksgiving was not to be this year.
But I'd started thawing the turkey two days ago.
Aaaaand, it was still frozen as of 9 p.m. last night.
Perhaps another sign?
The turkey's sitting in cold water now.
Guess I'm still trying.
Because that's what moms do.
They try to give their kids Thanksgiving, this holiday they've been learning about at school all week. Our boys need a frame of reference, they need a story similar to the ones their classmates have at school.
So, I try even though Thanksgiving at our house is nothing like Thanksgiving at theirs.
I'll give them Thanksgiving.
And I'll keep saying it over and over and over again.
So I guess mom cooks now.