How to Transport a Thanksgiving Turkey

Start by buying a bigger bird than you think you need. It will be frozen solid so don’t wait until the last minute like last year. On Thanksgiving Day, get up at 4:00 a.m. In a dark house with a single kitchen light burning, make stuffing by tearing two loaves of Wonder Bread into little pieces. Add onions and a lot of sage. 

Wash the bird and study the skin for pinfeathers. Pull them out with a paring knife until you can run your hands over the bird’s skin and not feel a single feather. Pack the turkey with stuffing and put it in the oven. Turn off the kitchen light and go back to bed. At 9:00 a.m., when everyone is awake and dressed for Thanksgiving, take the midnight blue roasting pan with the nearly done turkey out of the oven and set it on top of the stove. Put the lid on the roasting pan. Wrap the lidded roasting pan in a dozen layers of the Detroit Free Press and tie with twine. Call one of your children to put their finger on the knots so they are tied nice and tight. Place the wrapped roasting pan on more layers of newspaper in the trunk of the car.

Ride three hours in the blue and white Chevrolet your husband is driving. Listen to your kids in the backseat counting telephone poles and reading Burma-Shave signs. Worry a little that you didn’t buy a big enough bird. Doze off with the smell of roasted turkey heating the car and wake up in your mother’s driveway. See that your brothers are already there and know they are having cocktails and joking in the kitchen. Put the turkey in your mother’s oven and then look for the yellow baster you left in the drawer last year.

The author's Mom and Grandma after dinner.

The author's Mom and Grandma after dinner.

- Jan Wilberg grew up traveling two-lane roads in Michigan and would still rather be in a car than anywhere. She is a daily blogger at Red's Wrap and has had essays published in Newsweek, the New York Times Modern Love, and three anthologies. She was a 2015 BlogHer Voice of the Year, selected for an essay called "Blindsided" about coping with severe hearing loss. Now a cochlear implant recipient, she is reacquainting herself with the hearing world but still likes the printed page better.

How to Grow Onions

Wear navy blue coveralls when you plant onions. They will have the earthy, oaky smell of the distillery where you are a cooper. For your granddaughter that will become the smell of her childhood. In fact you will wear these for all manual activities. Most other times you will wear a shirt and tie. And my, you will be handsome.

Smile with your fuzzy, black curls billowing in the wind as you explain the process to your four-year-old apprentice. She will look up at you with wide eyes and marvel at your endless knowledge.

Make the holes for the onions by pressing into the fertile earth with your strong, hard-working fingers and instruct your eager assistant to drop a single bulb upright into each nest.

The Scottish rain will help them on their way. Spend as much time in the garden as you do in the house, tending to everything outdoors with equal care. Your garden will be perfect.

When the onions are ready share them with family and neighbours. In fact you will give and share for many years in many ways.

In the days before your passing be sure to take your now-grown granddaughter’s hand in yours and remind her of these rules. Tell her how her company pleased you as you planted those vegetables and remind her how well she listened. Tell her how perfectly she positioned each bulb. And tell her how much you love her. Because you didn’t just teach her how to grow onions. You also taught her to love.


In the last five years Donna Richardson has lived in seven homes in five countries with her two children and one husband - most recently in Dubai. She spends much of her time lost in the desert and drinking tea. 

Aglio e Olio (Con Cipolla)

He often cooked shirtless and I would pay attention to the muscles in his back tensing and rippling as he worked. 

He poured olive oil into a saucepan—not a frying pan as I would have done—and let it heat up while he chopped garlic cloves and then diced an onion into tiny perfect cubes. He filled another pot with water and salted it generously. 

The kitchen filled with the smell of garlic and onion sautéing in olive oil, which is in all the world the most enticing aroma when it is late and you are hungry. Sometimes I’d come and stand behind him for a moment, my arms reaching around him to touch fingertips at his belly, my cheek against his shoulder, absorbing the reverberations of his movements.

He drained the spaghetti and poured it into the saucepan with the translucent garlic and onions. Salt, pepper, grated Parmiggiano. There: a meal.

I make that simple dish of his from time to time, but I can't ever do it with my shirt off. On my arm, as I type, I can see the dark pink and brown mark, where, yesterday when I dropped a sole into the frying pan for my children’s dinner, the butter splashed out and scalded me. He was much more methodical, though, practically undistractable, even with my cheek against his back. He cooked and I observed and he never got burned.

   "I knew when I drew this twenty-something years ago—inexpertly, but it doesn’t matter—that there would be only a handful of moments like this in the future, and I wanted to remember this perspective."

 

 "I knew when I drew this twenty-something years ago—inexpertly, but it doesn’t matter—that there would be only a handful of moments like this in the future, and I wanted to remember this perspective."

- Laurence Dumortier writes fiction and essays, and is at work on a PhD in English. You can find her at https://twitter.com/ElleDeeTweets