Columns

Column: What’s missed and what’s remembered

I won’t miss the turkey.

The dressing, the mashed and gravy and the green beans with those canned fried onion rings? You better believe I’ll miss those. And the roasting turkey smell throughout the house? That definitely goes on the keeper side of the ledger.

After all these years, I’ve just gotten tired of the turkey itself, and I’ve had some doozies, even grilled and deep fried.

Little known sad fact: I’ve never prepared a holiday turkey, roasted or otherwise, meaning that I’ve also never, in my so-called life, carved a turkey. I’m not proud of these omissions but plan to dodge doing either until the spirit of The Great Turkey joins some other third-rate ethereal well-wishers to bid me farewell as I drift into the oyster stuffing-less world beyond.

As with many folks of a certain ilk, Thanksgiving is a favored holiday around here because it seems less complicated than Christmas, with its presents, preferably silly (which are hard to produce), and the rigors of the Christmas card assembly line.

We just decided to do cards again this year, making us a rarity in our circle. The list has been winnowed over the years but the undertaking still amounts to a fond chore.

If Jane’s handwriting wasn’t so pretty we wouldn’t think of doing it and she even jots a quick customized note in each, making her a long shot for the Nobel Peace Prize. (I fetch the stamps and maintain the list.)

The gathering of family and friends is what will be dreadfully missed this year. Typically, we train up to Darien or motor to Cape Cod. The grandparents are long gone, but our group — nearby Northeasters mostly — is a gregarious bunch with enough personality diversity to make it interesting.

There is nary a jerk among us (well there was that one year) and the laughter and goofy kibitzing are pretty much nonstop. My brother has an inestimable talent for creating place cards that require guessing which adjective/creature/tree/mental illness/etc. belongs to which turkey consumer. He never fails.

This year, we’re staying in the city as Jane mends from hip-replacement surgery, and we made a reservation at a nearby Frenchified bistro for T-day victuals (steak, no turkey!). But even that now seems in jeopardy as restaurant dining is attracting increasing cautionary flags as the plague gets into its natty holiday raiment.

I’m going to hold firm on the bistro, but am not betting the escargot that I’ll win out. The thought of prepared food or takeout is appalling to me, but the damn plague might rule.

The stalwart 2005 Subaru Forester stays on the Island and the holiday trip to the Cape is its biggest opportunity to perform. Even though we didn’t urgently need them, we bought four new tires recently and, I swear, that spongy feeling of new rubber on the road tells me that the car is missing its trek to Massachusetts this year.

If you look at a map and check the distance from the Island to my brother’s house in Orleans, it’s seems like about 50 miles as the crow flies. But with two ferries, the schlep up I-195 and the line to cross the Bourne Bridge, it’s a 7-hour jaunt. It’s an easy trip but last time I came within inches of two accidents (in the same Cape rotary!) when a couple of crazy motorists decided to veer to an outside exit from the inside lane. Huge no-no’s but what are you going to do?

As I write, I’m getting gloomier about this upcoming T-day and the things I won’t have a chance to enjoy. Talking books with my brother, verbally jousting with my nephew, vamping on the economy with Dick, getting the download from Bryan so I can give his parents a report on how his life, unbeknownst to them, is going. In the scheme of things, these are small matters indeed. But to be denied them is immense.

2020 has been a historic calamity across the board. But to quote the beloved E.B. White: “Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”

Given the chance, I’d grab a big second helping of Cape turkey.