Thanksgiving Gift by Grazina Smith

Erica decided she was not going to make Thanksgiving dinner this year and informed her family of this fact well in advance.   She just didn’t want to go through all the preparation: cooking the cranberry sauce, making the pies and rolls that took up a good part of her week and then spend the day, from dawn to dusk, preparing the turkey, the stuffing, the four vegetables and three salads.  She didn’t even want to think about the clean-up.  “We’re just going to order the standard dinner from the grocery store and I can spend the day relaxing and watching TV like the rest of you,” she said.

“Aw ma, you don’t mean that,” her youngest daughter Emily answered. “Those dinners are nasty with the tiny turkey, no bigger than a Perdue chicken, no left overs, those yucky frozen vegetables, canned gravy, gummy dressing and gluey rolls.”  Erica’s husband just shook his head.  “Why you know everyone loves your chunky cranberry sauce, the wonderful pies you make and those great salads.”  His mouth was watering with the memory.  “I know you can’t mean that!”  “Oh, yes I do.”  She answered.  “I want to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade and enjoy the football games, not miss it all as I slave in the kitchen.  No!  This year is different.  I’m going to sit on the sofa and watch TV with the rest of you.”

Secretly, Erica hoped her rebellion would lead to a little more kitchen participation by her family.  She didn’t mind the work but it was overwhelming to do it all by herself.  If they didn’t volunteer to help, they’d find her asleep on Thanksgiving morning.  Her only plan for the day would be a quick drive to the grocery store to pick up the dinner she’d pre-ordered.  She gave them plenty of warning – almost a month – and kept repeating her decision.  She hoped they’d realize that pitching in was the obvious solution.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, she noticed her husband and their two daughters spending a lot of private time huddled with their heads together; these conferences ended as soon as she entered the room.  Maybe it was working.  Maybe they were making plans to share the burden.  Erica gently tried to nudge Emily for information.  “Mom, all I can tell you is that there’s going to be a big surprise for you.”  Erica began to daydream that maybe they were planning to make the whole dinner without her. After all, you could Google the instructions for any recipe and they all knew how to use a computer.  She would be around to give advice.  It would be heaven to sleep in that morning and only help set the table.

The week before Thanksgiving, Erica’s family called her into the kitchen.  They stood in tight line in front of the table, facing her.  “Honey,” her husband said, “we have a surprise for you.  It’ll make your day,”   “One, two, three,” they shouted and then parted to reveal the kitchen table.  On it sat a shiny 26 inch TV.  “Surprise!”  They all shouted. “I’m putting in a shelf in the corner.  You’ll be able to see it from the whole room,” her husband said.  “Now you’ll be able to watch the parade and the football games while you make dinner.”  They all beamed at her for approval.  Erica didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

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