It has been many years since I have made a turkey for Thanksgiving not because I have anything against turkey, but because I have not hosted Thanksgiving for many years. That honor has fallen to my sister for the last several years.
Ever since my older brother was killed by a drunk driver in 1997, it has become very important to my family to try to spend these family holidays together. Christmas is hard to arrange but Thanksgiving is definitely do-able, so ever since then we have made the effort to be together for the holiday.
For several years after my brother died we switched things up and traded off hosting “turkey day.” But in 2002 my dad was diagnosed with an incurable cancer and though his life was extended for several years by three major surgeries, over time it became more difficult for he and my mom to travel. So it came to be that my sister, who lives in Jacksonville, began to host Thanksgiving. It was only a three-hour drive for my parents (and for us as well) so while it was difficult it was not an impossibility for my parents and it meant we could still all be together for the holidays.
Being together for the holiday became even more important after my niece (my sister’s oldest daughter) was killed in a traffic accident in 2007. She was only 19 years old. We had one more Thanksgiving that year with my dad, and then he passed away in August of 2008 after battling cancer for six years.
So once again this year we will gather at my sister’s. In spite of the aching emptiness caused by missing our loved ones, we manage to enjoy sharing memories. My sister has six surviving children and even if the nieces and nephews (my children and hers) don’t see each other all year, they always have a blast together that day. Family rocks.
So what exactly is the point of my title: “Overdosing on Turkey?” Well, because I don’t cook the turkey for Thanksgiving, I do make turkey for my family for Christmas. And several years ago I figured out some tricks to ensure that we are not eating “turkey spam” five days after Christmas.
My first strategy is to cook my turkey on Christmas Eve. Mind you we don’t eat it on Christmas Eve. I usually try to fix something unusual and different that night – a variety of hors d‘oeuvres can be fun.
The reason I decided to start cooking the turkey on Christmas Eve is because a few years ago I had the flu on Christmas day and by the time I got around to getting the turkey in we didn’t eat until 10 pm – not my idea of a merry Christmas.
So now I cook my turkey and stuffing on Christmas Eve. At that point I employ my secret weapon: I freeze half of the turkey and stuffing. More about that later. On Christmas day my daughter and I make all the side dishes: mashed potatoes, gravy, maybe a squash casserole or yams, peas, and rolls. I simply heat up the turkey and stuffing. And then we have an awesomely yummy dinner.
After we eat I freeze half of the gravy to go with the turkey and stuffing I’ve already frozen. We still have enough leftovers to have another little feast the day after Christmas which is a nice respite for me.
So what do I do with the frozen turkey, stuffing, and gravy? That is our New Year’s Day dinner! Hallelujah! I don’t have to cook on New Year’s Day either! Again, all I do is make some side dishes, heat up the turkey, stuffing and gravy and it’s déjà vu all over again. After a week of eating normally we are all ready to have another turkey feast and again, I don’t really have to do anything special on New Year’s Day. Which means I get to watch football! Seriously. I love football.
So give my secret weapon a try. You just might get hooked.Print This Post