Updated: Aug 20, 2021
This wasn’t the first holiday turkey this oven had threatened to ruin–holding our holiday cheer in the balance. About fifteen years ago, the oven died on Christmas day. Time before last it died on Thanksgiving Day. Mid-turkey.
The last time it gave up the ghost, the oven had the decency to give us a little warning and died three weeks before Thanksgiving. Enough time to find out we could no longer find parts for a 33 year-old oven but not soon enough to get a new hole put in the cabinet to fit a replacement.
Our daughter stepped up to the plate and volunteered her oven. Bless you Ellen.
But at 5:15 on Thanksgiving morning she called. Her oven had died.
As it happened, Ellen’s oven failed late the night before in the middle of baking pies. She had to call so early to head off the turkey stuffing. You don’t want stuffing sitting around inside the bird for several hours waiting to find an oven! And you don’t want to call on folks for a substitute oven at 5:15 in the morning.
I’m really not here to recommend turkey recipes. I’ve little good advice on how to keep an oven working. But I’m all over how you can help create events that keep going long enough to wear out an oven.
I absolutely love Thanksgiving. It takes but the slightest whiff of roast turkey to call up a string of memories back to my childhood. Turkey at Grandma’s house was the best. Her cornmeal dressing was to drool for.
Do you have a Thanksgiving recipe that does the same for you? You might have a favorite cranberry recipe. You might start salivating when you smell pumpkin pie. Perhaps your family shares ham. Are yams your favorite?
Recall with me the flood of memories that come pouring out with your favorite smells. Parents’ laughter. Card games. Hikes in the woods. Going to a movie. Watching the game. Checking out the big parades. Children playing. Thanksgiving is one of those fun times. That’s key.
And that is really why I’m interested in events that keep going long enough to wear out an oven. Repetition becomes the sauce covering these memories collectively.
But I discovered something even more important after I got married, something that was not as important in my family growing up. My wife and her family expected Thanksgiving to be a time of gratitude.
Sounds simple doesn’t it. Let’s be grateful. Isn't that what the "thanks" part of Thanksgiving means? When you consider the bounty that we have just displayed, it is all simply amazing. Kids who can play. Ovens that can cook. Adults who can laugh. Enough food to go around and more. You can’t catalog it fast enough or have paper enough to make a list long enough when you start realizing the blessings in your life. Gratitude gives meaning to the whole event from the time we send invitations to the moment the last left-over disappears.
The meaning lingers. Like the smell of turkey in the air?
Thanksgiving is the time when I acknowledge that I am blessed. So much so, that I’ve been at the doing of Thanksgiving for close to 50 years not counting my childhood. I’m hoping that like my wife’s family, my daughter and her son as well as all the others that share our Thanksgiving also feel that gratitude.
33 years. That’s how long it took to kill one oven. Be warned. If 50 have gone by and it only takes 33 years to kill an oven, we better be saving our shekels and gear up for another go-round.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add here that other volunteers stepped up when Ellen’s oven died. Thanksgiving was redeemed by a ham at the noon meal while the turkey finished in a 3rd oven to be served at dinner.
And boy, do we have a great story to tell. How many people do you know who kill off ovens two at a time for Thanksgiving?
Isn’t that what traditions are about as well: The telling of the stories? Telling the stories is what builds the legend. Stories heighten the fun. Stories grow anticipation.
If you don’t believe me, just ask yourself: Aren’t you just the least bit curious how the story will come out? Don’t you want to be with us at Thanksgiving next year to see what happens?
How many ovens will we kill off this year?
I leave you with anticipation but also a challenge: What will your Thanksgiving look like next time? I hope you celebrate the joy you find, give thanks for the blessings you have, and tell the tale of joy and blessing over and over. Who knows, if you keep at it as we have, maybe you’ll kill off an oven or two.
...the retired guy
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