As my family and I sit around a wooden table, my mom shuffles over with the turkey on a massive platter in her arms. After she sets it down, we stuff our plates with all the food we can fit, say Grace with hands in a ring around the table, and then dig in like starving animals.
Over the past week, hours have been spent creating the dinner that is now in front of me. My mom and I began preparing a week before Thanksgiving by putting together a grocery list to take with us to Stop & Shop. We went early in the week to avoid lines and ensure a plump turkey and ham and to buy potatoes, vegetables, sodas, and my personal favorite, chocolate pie.
We stored the ingredients in the fridge until they were ready to be prepared and cooked a few days later. We began by preparing the mashed potatoes in a shiny metal pot which we filled with water. I added salt to the potatoes before placing the pot on the stove until the pot bubbled and boiled for about 15 minutes. Then my mom took the pot off the stove and poured the mixture into a steel drainer above the sink, leaving her with only the potatoes. Using a small saucepan, my mom created a mixture of butter and milk before putting it on the low heat section of the stove. Once the mixture reached a golden hue, we blended it with the potatoes, using a potato masher. To top it off, I added a pinch of salt and pepper for flavor. Afterward, we put the mashed potatoes in a bowl, placed cling wrap on top, and stored it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, my mom and I rose early to get started on the turkey. First, I tucked the wing tips under the rest of the turkey and tied the legs. Once I finished, I was tasked with removing the bag of giblets from the turkey's slimy insides. Meanwhile, my mom preheated the oven to 325 degrees and placed the turkey (breast side up) on a roasting pan with a group of our favorite vegetables. We combined salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl and scattered the mixture inside the turkey, while on the outside I brushed the entirety of the turkey with the remaining butter and milk mixture from the day before. Finally, the turkey was ready to be baked for about 3 hours and 15 minutes after which it became a perfect golden-brown.
Saving the best for last, we took the chocolate pie and baked it for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. The pie looked perfect. All that was left to do was set the table and reheat the mashed potatoes, my brother's job.
To me this preparation is not only about cooking food or setting the table. More important, it is symbolic of family and friends. Every year this meal brings smiles to all my relatives around me. Rarely do I see them throughout the year, but this tradition unites us for one day during which we laugh and share stories. This meal has the power to bring in family from all over, so that we can break bread and enjoy one night of the year together as a family.