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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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Gravy, Smoked Turkey & Gratitude

Gratitude is something I think about everyday. From the smallest things like the joy, I feel when I see a vibrant color to the larger ones like being thankful for a loving family. As Thanksgiving arrives this week, gratitude and thankfulness are in my thoughts even more than usual.

My husband and I have always enjoyed having gatherings. There’s nothing quite like bringing positive energy and love into our home. Even before we were married, we hosted our share of events. The tradition has continued over the last 27 years to include birthdays, holidays and impromptu gatherings.

In particular, we love hosting Thanksgiving. Each time it rolls around, we reminisce about two of our classic Thanksgiving adventures.  No matter how many times we recall these stories, we continue to delight in them.

The first Thanksgiving we hosted was shortly after we got married. We invited both sides of the family to our loft in Brooklyn. Steve was very serious about cooking the main dishes (turkey, stuffing and gravy.) He worked for hours, maybe days, preparing the gravy. At the last minute, when it was time to strain the giblets from the liquid, and right as our guests were about it arrive, I heard this big scream coming from the kitchen. I then heard many other explicatives, which I won’t repeat here. It sounded like someone was wounded.

Just as his aunt and uncle arrived, Steve poured the gravy into the strainer without a dish below to catch the gravy. As he poured, he realized his “prize” gravy was going right down the drain! Right after that happened, his aunt walked over to check things out and said to him, “Do you think you have enough gravy?” Distressed, Steve turned to me and asked me to call his mother to see if she could bring some extra gravy. Thank goodness for mothers!

It wasn’t funny at the time, but over the years, it’s become one of our favorite stories. It makes us laugh every time think about it. I’m grateful for the mishaps of life. They remind us that we’re not perfect, we are flexible and we can laugh at ourselves.

Fast-forward about five years from our first Thanksgiving. This particular Thanksgiving was the first one we hosted as new parents. Our oldest daughter, now 20, was only six months old at the time. Steve and I remember waking up early to prepare everything. About an hour or so before our family and friends arrived, we commented to one another how smoothly things were going and how not stressed out we were. I suppose at that point we should have knocked on wood for good luck.

As I was preparing the table, I notice a tremendous amount of smoke coming from the kitchen. Steve yelled out, “CALL the Fire Department!” The smoke alarms went off, our daughter started crying and the cat was meowing wildly. One of the turkeys (we cooked two that year) had caught on fire, which in turn made our oven catch fire.

The Fire Department showed up quickly, but Steve had already extinguished the fire. His Boy Scout training has come in handy countless times, including that Thanksgiving! Twenty people were expecting Thanksgiving dinner and we had to continue preparing, even after the “incident.” Once the excitement subsided and the fire was extinguished, we continued cooking and airing out the house. We had to open all the windows and doors to get the smoke out. Our poor guests froze that year and had to wait a long time until the meal was ready.

But in the end, it was another wonderful Thanksgiving providing us with lots of happy memories. We were surrounded by the people we loved most, no one was hurt, we ended up getting a new stove and as a bonus, we ate smoked turkey.

Steve and I had our Thanksgiving planning meeting yesterday. We figured out who was doing what, when we’d do things and reviewed our notes from previous years. And of course, we had to retell our Thanksgiving stories and enjoy a good laugh together. Who knows what surprises will be in store this year? All I do know is that I’m very grateful to have all the people we love most coming to our home to celebrate the holiday of thanks and gratitude.

Do you have any Thanksgiving stories or tales of gratitude? Please share them.

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Reader Comments (4)

What joyous stories of connection! We all have imperfect tales of holidays, but what remains most important is the laughter and hugs shared!

Wishing you a wonderful holiday!

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Ellen- You are so right that while we have our holiday tales of things gone wrong, what truly remains are all the beautiful memories of time spent with our loved ones. Hoping that your holiday season brings you all the joy and love you want. I'm so grateful to know you and have you as part of the ongoing community here.

November 24, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

We don't always remember it when everything goes smoothly, but the mishaps give us something to talk about for years! And smoked turkey... yum!

September 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- You're so right. It's often the things that don't go as planned, those mishaps, that we remember. But as you said, looking back, they make for good stories and lots of laughter. And yes…an interesting way to make smoked turkey, isn't it?

September 28, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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