I’m sitting here in this comfortable chair, wearing a warm bathrobe that I bought last year about this time (because I wanted to. It’s soft pink, cashmere, and ridiculously comfortable) (and it was on sale.) (for half price) and fuzzy red slippers that don’t match the robe visually, but definitely do in warmth and comfort. This time last year I was just coming down off a cruise with a friend, having used it to gird my loins for the upcoming holidays, the first one spent without Himself. Those holidays went smoothly enough. we kept them very low-key. I put out only the decorations I felt like putting out, and chose to feel absolutely no obligation to do anything more than I absolutely felt like doing. I don’t even think I listened to any Christmas music- something in the past went on the afternoon of December 1 (Nov. 30 is #2’s birthday and we didn’t Do Christmas until after that, out of respect for his birthday and that Himself’s birthday was January 6 and tended to get swallowed up) (We made Father’s Day like a birthday instead…it was a Big Deal around here).
This year, I’m still kind of gently poking the idea of Christmas Stuff. It’s like a spot you think might still be sore but aren’t sure, so you prod around delicately, seeing if there’s a flinch or a wince…so far, no. But then it is different now. There’s more people in the house. Last year it was #4 and me. This year, #2 and Girlfriend are here so it’s fuller, and I feel a little more like decorating and making it pretty. To be honest, I hadn’t felt like decorating much for several years, even pre-Himself Is Gone. I don’t know why. This year, I kind of do want to put the garland on the stair rail, with all the beads and lights and stuff. I think putting out the myriad Santa Mugs would be fun. I still don’t, however, particularly want to put up a big live tree. Even as nice as it makes the house smell, a decent Yankee Candle would do the same.
Thanksgiving is…well. Interesting. We’re kind of doing it 3 times. Yesterday we all (except for #3, Fine Wife, and Grandpunkin, as they’re in Alabama and had to work) went up north 3 hours to spend the day with Himself’s family. MIL cooked a fine feast, #2’s Girlfriend cooked a cauliflower casserole (after I’d expressed and inability to figure out what to take, and she works on a farm that is currently harvesting cauliflower so we have an abundance of it, due to her bringing home an “ugly”,thus unsaleable tho perfectly edible, one every night.) and there was much sitting around, talking, looking at old photographs (which I could participate in only briefly before having to take a breather, but I am thankful for it, as #1 spent time with his grandmother), visiting OlderBrother’s truck farm and seeing the improvements he’s making, and generally realizing I still have a family with them. That was nice. Kind of emotional after the fact, but touching, and…even though we’d had our difficult moments relationally, still being accepted as part of it all is pretty wonderful. (now my eyes are leaking again)
Tomorrow #4 and I are going to Alabama (#’s 1,2 and Girlfriend have to work) to see my side of the family. Texas Aunt and Bro. Scott will be there, and I Have Plans. I will see #3, Fine Wife, and Grandpunkin. I want to blow up some stuff (if it’s not too dry) and shoot some stuff (not live things, but metal things that give a satisfying *PING* to let you know your aim is true). I’m smoking a turkey today, to take. Bro. Scott and I will get in the kitchen and
bicker discuss the optimal way to prepare the sides. Likely cauliflower will be involved. Mom might be convinced to make a pie.
#4 and I will return Thursday morning. Girlfriend has mentioned a desire to Cook A Dinner, and there is another turkey in the spare fridge, defrosting. #2 said he’d like to smoke it…so I’m not going to do it the same time I smoke the first one, and will instead allow him free rein to do as he pleases with it. He has been smoking all sorts of things, because #3 welded a new bottom to my rusted out gas smoker (way easier than charcoal as you don’t have to monitor it like it’s a 7 year old practicing the piano). Girlfriend has mentioned things along the lines of “mashed potatoes and gravy” and “stuffing” and many other things that all work together for a food coma-inducing feast. I think she said something about pie as well.
Somewhere in here I’m supposed to be studying for final exams next week. The printer isn’t working right or I’d have all the study notes on paper and would carry them around with me to read in spare moments (between blowing stuff up and chasing the Grandpunkin). Oh well, there’s only 2 exams so I’ll just do the best I can later in the week.
So for now, I’ve tabled the Christmas thoughts, and will focus on this week and all the family stuff. I’m not really even sure what I’m going to do for gifts for everyone. Last year I faked it with smiles. Maybe this year I’ll get around to making cookies and marshmallows. Or not. Maybe I’ll just make noises about how the second year is just as hard as the first, but in a different way. Which is totally is. It’s different, no longer raw and bleeding, but stiff, like a new scar that needs to be stretched and worked, but you still have to be careful not to tear it back open. It’s still very tender, too.
It all feels different though. Kind of like…well…this time last year, I felt like I was curled up in a ball and ignoring the world. It felt like that was OK, too. God came along and tucked a blanket around me and gave me permission to sleep in. Now I’m not sleeping in, but sort of shuffling around in my robe and slippers, sniffling from a spiritual headcold and God is handing me a box of tissues and a cup of hot tea, telling me I’ll feel better eventually. I know I will, I do already. But I sure do miss Himself right now.
Anyway, it’s time to get dressed and get the turkey in the smoker. Himself loved a smoked turkey.
How to Smoke a Turkey:
Make sure the turkey is fully thawed out. Pat it down good so it’s all dry on the outside. (Find someone to help with the next step, especially if it’s a big one)
Stuff the body cavity with your favorite dried herbs. I like a blend of thyme, oregano, and one or two stems of rosemary.
Hold the tail end of the turkey up to your face, and have the friend light the herbs with a match or a candle (using a lighter will make it taste like kerosene) and blow gently on the herbs until they catch fire (that’s why dried herbs are best)
Huff the smoke coming out of the tail end. If you’re brave you can put the tail in your mouth and use it like a smoke conduit or something.
There. You’ve just smoked a turkey.