Thanksgiving is a great time of year. You don’t have the hype that surrounds Christmas and shopping for gifts. The weather is cooler and you can finally breathe after surviving a summer of insufferable 90 degree temps where your makeup drips off your face like a melting popsicle. The leaves have changed to beautiful gold, red, and yellow and the blue sky has a much deeper, clearer hue. You smell the hint of smoke sifting from the fireplace and the tastes of the season are richer and fuller. I like to go where they make sorghum syrup and although eating this delicacy stirred up with about half a tub of butter placed on top of a white fluffy biscuit will make you gain 15 pounds on the spot…..the aroma is intoxicating.
Most of us spend time thinking and contemplating the things we are thankful for. Of course there is always family (at least most of them), and our health (unless you are over 50 and then you’re just grateful you’re vertical), our friends and neighbors (always check them out before you move into a neighborhood so you can be grateful). Many are thankful for church and church family, and the awesome blessings given to us by the Lord. With a lot of the hardships all of us have faced as a nation the last couple of years, most are grateful to have a job and food on the table. At this writing we’re thankful that we have had the mid-term elections and all the campaign ads are off the TV now.
For us, we are always thankful if the house is still standing after I’ve cooked my portion of the Thanksgiving meal. A tradition for us for years is that we would have a spaghetti dinner on Thanksgiving Eve, normally a quick meal that involves boiling noodles, browning the meat and pouring on the sauce. It gets really fancy if I heat up some garlic bread and fix baked potatoes. I’m not very patient, so I love to turn the heat on the cook top up to high so things will cook faster. While supper is going I usually have other items in the works for the feast the next day. Being an over achiever I like to fix the turkey, sweet potato soufflé, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, 7 layer salad, provide cranberry sauce and supply and the ever illusive pickled peaches. I have learned to share all this cooking fun with my other family members since all they had left to bring was the carrot sticks.
One year in particular I was working and had come home to start all the festivities in the kitchen. Needless to say I was in a rush and had everything going at once. My husband was not at home and had gone to pick up his kids and was visiting his mother briefly before he and two young boys hit the door and all hell would break loose for the evening. Mind you, they were great boys, but periodic visits limited my ability to cope with the increased decibel level upon their entry. It was like going from a peaceful bubble bath to the back side of a roaring turbo jet in 20 seconds flat.
While I was boiling and stirring I heard a little sound that went “poof!” Nothing serious, a slight poofing noise in the kitchen could be anything. I then detected the smell of something burning. Nothing on the stovetop had stuck to the pot yet and the oven was working properly. The cook top was a counter mount and I opened the cabinet door underneath to get another casserole dish when I discovered the wiring was on fire. Now I am not the panicky type but I do believe my entire life flashed before my eyes. I knew better than to throw water on it (I’m too embarrassed to tell you HOW I know this) and searched frantically for my container of flour. Locating it behind six bags of sweet potatoes I gingerly tossed an entire container of flour by the handfuls onto the fire. I did have the foresight to turn the knobs to off to stop the flow of electricity to the cook top. Finally the flames had stopped licking the bottom of the cabinet and I took a look around.
There was flour and soot everywhere. Everywhere. Believe it or not, a little five pound bag of flour can expand to look like three dump trucks of pastry dust have been unloaded in your kitchen. Every cook pot and casserole dish under the cabinet was filled with black ash. The kitchen was smoky. We were definitely not having spaghetti for supper. I picked up the phone and called my mother in law’s house. My brother in law, who just happens to be a firefighter, answered the phone. Really, what are the odds of that? I asked if my husband was there and my brother in law said he was. Being the wonderful fellow he is, he asked how I was doing. I squeaked out something about the cook top catching on fire and needed my hubby to come home. I believe at that point I was formally blessed out for not calling the fire department immediately. Honestly, the fire department was only two minutes down the road. He did not even give the phone to my husband, but called on his radio to the station and I heard sirens coming before he told me they were on the way and hung up. I guessed my husband was on the way, too. Plus there was no way to get all that soot cleaned up before firefighters entered the house. I just hate it when the house is a mess and we’re having guests.
I would probably break down and cry if I re-counted the portion of this story about the many trips up and down to the electrical panel and back to the kitchen made by those wonderful firefighters and their boots. My husband was able to re-wire the cook top to their satisfaction and our evening resumed. So, we had sticky noodles, half cooked ground beef and sauce, a kitchen that looked like it had been invaded by a small militia armed with soot guns. The boys tried to pack the flour and throw it like snowballs. There was still quite a bit to cook along with loading and unloading 431 dishwasher loads later of pots, pans and casserole dishes.
It took about three years before my family would let me bring anything except the carrot sticks for Thanksgiving. I donate regularly to the firefighter fund; it’s either that or invite them over for the holidays. The family just doesn’t like to come with the fire truck parked out front.