Lots of Thanksgiving memories for Max and me built up over the years making spectacular dinners for other people. But ….. that’s what catering is about. Clients come first on holidays.
The first Thanksgiving after we were married, Max and I had a job roasting turkeys for another caterer. We stayed up all of Wednesday night. The job was done and so were we. We left the large industrial kitchen, totally exhausted and not having eaten any turkey or trimmings. Besides our paycheck, the caterer gave us a take-home shopping bag of food.
When we got back to our tiny apartment in Philadelphia, we were too tired to cook for ourselves. All I wanted was a soak in the tub.
“Go take your soak,” Max said, throwing the keys on the entrance table. “I’ll put this food away and we’ll go out to the Chinese restaurant around the corner. No cleanup after.”
“Okay,” I said, wearily. It was not my idea of a first Thanksgiving as a married woman, but I anticipated these kinds of sacrifices being married to a caterer.
I languished in the tub for a long time, getting the kinks out. Then I dressed in jeans, sneakers and a sweater, ready, but not enthusiastic, for Chinese food.
I walked into our dining area, a galley kitchen with a counter mounted to the wall, two chairs underneath. Max had set two places with the only china we owned – Fiesta Ware plates – and Woolworth cutlery, two pressed glass goblets and paper napkins. He had arranged oranges and candles into a festive centerpiece. Max had warmed the caterer’s food and it now sat on the plates: slices of turkey breast with gravy, whipped sweet potatoes, stuffing, creamed onions and cranberries.
Now that we’re retired, we can have our Thanksgivings to ourselves. Many of them we’ve spent with Cutlass and Bobo. Some were unsuccessful like the one we spent two years ago.
My eyes opened wide. “Oh, Max! How sweet!”
Max popped the cork on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.
“Where did you get that? Very expensive!”
“A perk tucked into the bag, an extra thanks for a job well done.” He filled the goblets. “We deserve every drop! Cheers!”
Now that we’re retired, we can have our Thanksgivings to ourselves. Many of them we’ve spent with Cutlass and Bobo. Some were unsuccessful like the one two years ago when, Dot, Bobo’s antique supplier and her husband, Bob the stockbroker, came to dinner. Bob took his cell phone to the table and never stopped texting. I watched the frost form around Dot. Cutlass accused Bobo of calling him fat – never a good move. They all left in a huff. I cried but Max cajoled me into enjoying the leftovers and we had our private Thanksgiving.
Bobo called later to apologize and to say that Dot and Bob had reconciled. He said Dot gave him an additional 20% off on the antiques just because she felt bad about spoiling the dinner. Bobo was ecstatic.
Once, Aunt Daisy, my 84-year old friend, told me about a Thanksgiving she had spent out on the range in her cowgirl days.
When I was very young, just after my husband Billy and my baby died, I couldn’t think of a better place to be than on the prairie with sun, clouds, cactuses, tumbleweed, and stars at night – ridin’ my horse Domino, listenin’ to the tinkle and rattle of the saddle and gear. It almost took my pain away.
I was cook on a cattle run, spendin’ time with a bunch of cowpokes who would rather have been home but needed the money.
None of us was in a festive mood, but we stopped early on Thanksgiving Day. We didn’t have turkey and all the trimmin’s but I rustled up beans, bacon and cornbread and we had ourselves a satisfyin’ meal. Then someone took out a harmonica and played a tune. Truth to tell, the sound of a harmonica makes me mighty sad and I went behind a big boulder cryin’ and cryin’ for Billy and the baby.
Then a cowboy started pluckin’ on his guitar and singin’ some songs. I dried my tears with a bandana and looked up at that beautifuI star-filled sky. I remember hearin’ “Cool Water” and “Tumblin’ Tumbleweed.” When I heard “Happy Trials,” I started cryin’ again. But when he sang “Back in the Saddle Again,” it spurred me on. I knew I had to pull myself together and rejoin the cowpokes gathered around the campfire. It was time for me to cheer the others up. I was through greavin’.
I did my rodeo ropin’ tricks that had everyone laughin’ and clappin’. I pulled myself out of those old doldrums and never sank into them again. From then on, I would ride tall in the saddle! I reckoned it was good to be with friends at Thanksgivin’ and I was grateful.
That’s right, Daisy! Thanksgiving is not about how much food you can bring to the table but counting your blessings and spreading good will.
I wish everybody a “Happy” Thanksgiving!
Dearest Readers and Subscribers — Let me just express how grateful I am to you all for reading Sylvia’s Journal and for your comments! I wish you a most fulfilling Thanksgiving with many blessings to count!