A favorite Thanksgiving Day memory. A family, a dog and Thanksgiving day. They are no longer with us, but the memories will last forever.
The dining room table is set with the good china and a lovely floral centerpiece. The buffet island practically groans under the weight of all the delicious dishes that my mother-in-law, Nancy, has prepared. Mashed potatoes heaped high with a dab of butter melting down the side of the potato mountain. Green bean casserole and sausage stuffing, cranberry sauce, a tossed salad and rolls are lined up and ready for serving spoons. Another table is home to Pecan, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Pie with dessert dishes and forks side by side. Kids are playing video games in one room, while the men are gathered in another watching Thanksgiving Day football.
Wine is chilling in the ice bucket and the bar is open for mixed drinks as we all munch and crunch on raw broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots and cucumbers. A cheese ball and crackers, sliced sausage and deviled eggs; keep everyone from being too grumpy as they wait for the piece de’ resistance – the roasted turkey.
The oven door opens and the aroma of roasted turkey basted just right in butter, brown sugar and Jack Daniels fills the air. Last minute preparations are made to the table and my father in law Harold is called to the kitchen to do the carving. We all know you have to give him a 15 minute head start before he will actually appear, which gives us just enough time to transfer this 40 lb turkey to the serving tray and allow it to cool a few minutes before he sticks a fork, and a carving knife in it.
Nancy checks on the table, I am the bartender filling everyone’s glasses with this drink or that. A scream, “MMMMURRPHHYYYY!” fills the air. I rush around the corner to find our big beautiful Irish setter, Murphy, having a Thanksgiving feast for one, with his teeth sunk into the top of that big, beautiful bird. He lifts his head, drumsticks to each side and his big brown eyes beg us all not to be too mad at him because it just looked and smelled, and since he isn’t dropping it, tasted, “Oh so good.”
Stared down by “mommy” he drops the bird and runs struggling to find a place to hide. The turkey plops to the floor, doggy slobber and all, with the two of us standing there looking at it in horror. We burst into laughter so loud that the rest of the family runs into the kitchen to find out what is going on to find mommy’s laughing, turkey on the floor and a dog cowering under the table. No explanations needed!
Dinner that night was vegetarian and possibly one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I ever had as we all laughed and joked about the dangers of leaving food on a kitchen island. Who knew Murphy could find enough energy to climb up there?
Harold is no longer with us, having passed of a heart attack two years later. Murphy at the age of 17 passed away and just a year ago Nancy left us due to complications from leukemia, after a long hard fight.
I may not have them with me now to join hands and say a prayer of Thanksgiving, but I will always carry with me in my heart and each year the time I had with them is among the many things I am thankful for. Every year, as I place the turkey on the serving platter I will think of them, our love and joy and our big, beautiful, friendly, loveable “doofus” dog that provided us with hours of love and entertainment with his shenanigans. Our family has much to be thankful for.