Monday, November 28, 2011


Why do left-overs sometimes taste better than the original? My mother used to buy an extra big turkey for our Thanksgiving dinners so she would have an abundance of left-overs to last through the following week. My brother and I, from an early age, would begin the ritual by sneaking into the kitchen after dinner and picking at the carcass which always had ample meat left on it. After that came the turkey sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey salad, and ultimately – the soup. By that time even my brother and I were a bit tired of the turkey taste and I suspect much of that dish went down the drain.

At some point during my teenage years my grandmother (on my father's side) decided to take charge of Thanksgiving dinner. "To save my mother work," was the excuse. But my grandmother lived in a small apartment and didn't know how to cook, so taking charge meant eating Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant and she would pay for it. The nearest restaurant was on the first floor of her apartment house. A cold, cavernous room at the best of times, on Thanksgiving it was almost empty, except for a few lonely widows or widowers or others who lacked family ties. The waiters were stiff, the menus were stiff, the napkins were stiff, and as a result the conversation was stiff. Actually, we were afraid to raise our voices for fear an echo would come roaring back at us, like a Bush man's boomerang and knock us dead. And of course there were no left-overs. (The custom of taking home what you couldn't eat in a baggie had not been invented yet.)

Nowadays when my brother and I have families of our own, and we are together on Thanksgiving, I wait for him to give me the high sign, and while others linger over their coffee and pumpkin pie, we sneak into the kitchen to enjoy our ritual of picking at the carcass.

Robin Hathaway

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