Swift (Andi)

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Seven thirty in the morning on Thanksgiving Day and I have not yet released the chickens and ducks from their coop.

I’m careful about our little flock now, after losing so many so early in the season. So I am insistent they go to bed as soon as the sun goes down (I herd them into their house by singing “Staying Alive,” which has this fun effect of making them flee my voice) and I wait until I can see the world in front of me before letting them out.

But this morning? I am being appropriately lazy. They will forgive me.

Nothing about this day is going to be hurried. We are not on a schedule. When will dinner be served? Who knows? It will be served when the majority of the food is ready. Right now, at seven thirty in the morning, a rum cake is baking in the oven. When that comes out, I’ll put the turkey in. I have no idea how much the turkey weighs – I threw away the informational packaging when I began the dry brine a couple of days ago. I suppose I’ll lug the thing upstairs to the bedroom scale and find out? Is this necessary? If I just stick it in the oven and then around hour three begin to check its internal temperature, isn’t that sufficient?

I mean, I have cooked a turkey before, haven’t I? I must have. I can’t have gotten to age 45 without ever having cooked a turkey, start to finish, on my own. I knew about the dry brine! I must know how to roast the damn thing!

But actually, I didn’t know about the dry brine. I knew about saltwater baths for turkeys, so I did some digging on the internet and found a process that is supposed to be just as good but much less mess. So that’s what I’m doing.

I remember my parents rising at ghastly early hours on Thanksgiving to get the bird in the oven, and I suspect I am already late in terms of turkey cooking time. We might not eat until 9 pm.

But I don’t think anyone is going to care. There is a lot of other food for us to eat. Rum cake!

What else are we going to do today?

I imagine there will be a few board game sessions, a movie marathon, a walk. But these wholesome, family-oriented activities might only exist in my imagination. Because I’m not going to plan anything for anyone today. And often, if I don’t plan/suggest/enforce family activities, they end up not happening.

Maybe I should revise my plan to not plan. Maybe I should jot down just the faintest of schedules for us today. So that we don’t get stuck in a morass of relaxation, the kind of relaxation that can easily turn into the poison of regret. I’ve seen this happen to us, far more frequently than I would like. We all start out delighted to be off book, and then, midafternoon, it goes sour. We get cranky. We have been inside too much. Too much time on screens. Too many potato chips.  

Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’ll make some plans. But I refuse to go full-on cruise ship director because family members will revolt at too many plans, and that is exhausting.

It’s all a bit exhausting. I’ve nearly convinced myself to go back to bed, rum cake and turkey be damned.

But the chickens and duck still need to be rescued from their cozy container. And I should do it before I put the turkey in the oven – I’d hate for them to catch any whiff of species betrayal.

Right after this, my second cup of coffee.

The day, the ducks, can wait.

My sincerest wishes for a peaceful Thanksgiving Day, for all of you.

Dearest b, I miss you and your word for next time is memory.

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