The silly season has passed—starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year’s celebrations. In many parts of the country, it is also the hunting season, and everywhere it is football playoff season. I can’t help but imagine what the combination of these three factors might produce.
The turkey felt cold and dead to the touch; the dad had left before dawn to go up to the lake for the opening of duck season; and the girls were watching cartoons and pre-Thanksgiving Day pre-parade activities on television. By 11:30 a.m., the kitchen and the house had taken on the warm scents and nostalgic aromas from the comingling of turkey roasting, potatoes boiling, and sweet desserts baking. The mom anticipated having mashed potatoes and stuffing on the same plate smothered with gravy. She felt a certain pride in her prowess in the kitchen. Soon family started arriving for the early dinner, bringing their contributions to the festivities.
Everyone was too polite to mention that the dad, who had scheduled this early meal so as not to interfere with kickoff, was not yet home; and the turkey was well past the twenty-minute cooling off period prior to carving. The adults were still too polite to comment about him rushing in with three ducks slung across his shoulder, still dressed in their feathered finery due to the lack of time to field dress them before coming home. But this was a grim dose of the reality of daddy’s hunting trip for his two shocked little girls. Finally washed and seated at the head of the table, he signaled the start of the feast.
Not thirty minutes later, mother again stood alone in the kitchen. The heavily scented sweet aromas had given over to a greasy, leftover smell; the dining room was a table littered with the cold, skeletal remains of the dinner. As she faced the mountain of dishes and pots, the muffled sounds of kickoff drifted up from the family room. She swore it would be the last Thanksgiving dinner that she ever prepared.
Years later on crisp fall days, when she saw a flock of wild ducks on the wing or a pair of Mallards gliding placidly on a canal, she smiled and gave thanks.