Thanksgiving is a time to be with family…. and to eat turkey. I mean no disrespect to my vegetarian friends who don’t eat meat, and pseudo-vegetarian friends who don’t eat meat, but do eat seafood —you’ve no doubt heard of the traditional Thanksgiving salmon — but going without a big, juicy Butterball on turkey day would put me in a fowl mood!
Thanksgiving is a time to be with family…. and to eat turkey.
I mean no disrespect to my vegetarian friends who don’t eat meat, and pseudo-vegetarian friends who don’t eat meat, but do eat seafood —you’ve no doubt heard of the traditional Thanksgiving salmon — but going without a big, juicy Butterball on turkey day would put me in a fowl mood!
We’re traveling to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving with my family. Right off the bat, my mom told me that we would be a smaller group than usual. My two older brothers wouldn’t be dining with us this year. One of my brothers would be visiting early in the day, and then going on to a Thanksgiving repast with his girlfriend’s family. My eldest brother would be tailgating at Lincoln Financial Field and then watching some real turkeys – the Philadelphia Eagles – take the turf in a match up against the Arizona Cardinals.
His absence came as somewhat of a relief, because my eldest brother is anti-turkey, if you can believe it. He’s a “foodie” with a keen knowledge of cuisine and wines, and how to pair them perfectly. If he had his way he’d be working my mother over in the weeks before Thanksgiving, trying to convince her that medium rare lamb chops and a tasty pinot noir was the perfect menu for the day. Forget the fact that I hate lamb — I don’t even like movies referencing lambs, “Silence of the Lambs” freaks me out — but lamb chops have no business sharing a Thanksgiving table with my homemade pumpkin pie.
So with the unabashed “turkey hater” distracted by other birds tossing pigskin on Thanksgiving, I could relax and begin to anticipate that delicious golden brown gobbler dressed in my mother’s homemade gravy, right?
My mother informed me that with a considerably smaller guest list, she was planning to order a small capon instead of a turkey this year.
“That way there won’t be so many leftovers,” she offered by way of explanation, over the phone two weeks ago.
“Capon?!” I repeated back to her with some disdain, and agitation in my voice.
“What is a capon, anyway?” I asked, although familiar with that particular poultry.
“It’s a chicken, right?”
“Yes,” she acknowledged that a capon was indeed more chicken than turkey, but then began singing the capon’s praise, telling me how tender and delicious it would be and how I would enjoy it so much more than turkey.
Her capon pitch fell on deaf ears.
“We CAN”T have chicken for Thanksgiving, mom,” I protested.
I’m not sure there is any tryptophan in chicken, which would surely upset my Thanksgiving nap routine and possibly throw off my entire sleep cycle for the weekend.
“And what’s so bad about leftovers?” I wanted to know.
“I can eat turkey sandwiches for days – just watch me,” I promised.
My protestations caught my mother off guard. And while I had reason to suspect her too, of being anti-turkey, she reluctantly said she’d cancel the capon.
I admit I felt embarrassed about my petulance, considering my mom was being good enough to take on Thanksgiving dinner, which after all involves far more than just the turkey or capon. With two of her three grown children planning to be elsewhere for dinner, she could just as easily have made reservations rather than a multi-course, labor-intensive meal.
But that’s not my mom. Anyone who knows her will agree she is one of the most generous, accommodating and giving people they know. And I am thankful — whether it’s capon or turkey on the table Thursday — to have such a wonderful mom.
“We are having turkey, right?”
Alice Coyle is the managing editor of Gatehouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass. office. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.