Thanksgiving is really a wonderful American tradition. The day gives us a chance to be with family and to cherish our great nation. A land where the world wants to come and join us in our freedoms and opportunity for all under the rule of law.
The Thanksgiving meal is the traditional celebration dating back to the Indians giving food to the starving Pilgrims. Supposedly they only had a few kernels of corn to feast upon.
Cooking the turkey is a family tradition and it was one of my fondest times with my aging mother, as a widow, still hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner at her home. My ranching father passed away from lung cancer at age 75 from too many years of dust, freezing cold, and smoking cigarettes as he operated his cattle ranch in N.W. Colorado.
Our family resided in Craig where I had departed the ranching industry and was operating The Craig Daily Press. No daily newspaper to produce on Thanksgiving Day, so Gerri and I, our four children, and my brother Henry, joined my mother for an excellent traditional dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, et al.
My job was to hustle to my mother’s house around 6 a.m. to help prepare the turkey. She was the expert and I the student on how to prepare and cook a turkey. The bird was too heavy for her to lift into the oven and that was my primary responsibility.
My mother was my teacher in life beginning at a very early age as I was home schooled on the ranch 30 miles from the nearest school. My mother held school every day for me, my five-year older brother, and my cousin John. We eventually moved into town where she became a third-grade teacher for decades and was elected the Moffat County Superintendent of Schools for 12 years.
I can well remember the wooden blocks of letters, the alphabet cards, learning to read and write, mixing flour and water to make glue, and coloring eggs at Easter.
So, my education finally reached the turkey cooking level as I watched carefully how she washed the turkey and reached deep into the body cavity to remove the sack of gizzard and heart. I wonder how many people cook the bird with those items still inside or fail to allow enough time for the bird to thaw? It’s happened to me.
She basted the bird with a mixture of flour and butter and stuffed the dressing deep into the body cavity stitching up the bird’s cavity.
I would lift the blue roaster pan into the heated oven and the bird would be ready to be carved by noon.
Looking back at Thanksgiving I cherish the memories of cooking with my mother and then the closeness of our family that still exists today. My mother left us years ago, but never in spirit.
I’m going to be cooking that turkey early Thanksgiving day and remembering my mother and all the memories that I cherish about her and my wonderful dad who taught me how to work.
Inhale family on this special day and be thankful for America.