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Story and Photographs

Sunny Lockwood
Copyright 2009 Merikay McLeod
All Rights Reserved
First electronic publication in “Onword,” the blog at
By our seventh Thanksgiving, Sweetheart Al and I had our kitchen
duties organized like a well-choreographed dance.

Most weekdays, Al considered the kitchen his private domain, but on

Thanksgiving we worked together to prepare a delicious feast for our
friends. And I loved the way we worked, moving gracefully from stove to
refrigerator to counter top.

He took charge of the turkey, dressing and fresh cranberry-orange

crush. I prepared mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green beans and
the ambrosia fruit salad.

Earlier, we had laid out the dining room table together: smoothed the
soft, pale green table cloth in place; sat the antique porcelain candleholders
at either end; placed the delicately flowered Czechoslovakian China, antique
silver and crystal goblets from his great grandmother, and, finally, sat our
high-backed, caned chair strategically around the table.

This particular Thanksgiving, Al had made yeast-based dinner rolls

from scratch. He’d made them yesterday and they sat, plump and fragrant in
a large freezer bag on the counter.

I’d arranged the side table flowers, put out the various platters and
bowls, and placed hot pads on the buffet.

We had a pot of spiced cider simmering on the stove.

Soon our guests would arrive bearing homemade pies and vegetable
side dishes.

As the fragrance of baking turkey filled our large country kitchen, I

began to feel my own heart filling with gratitude.
I had done nothing to deserve a perfect and happy life, but that’s
exactly what I have. Here I was working side-by-side with my perfect soul
mate, in our ideal home (which he had designed and built), with a kitchen
full of delicious food and soon a house full of good friends.

“It’s taking longer to bake than it should,” Al said as he checked the

turkey again and poured its rich bating oils over it. The brown bird looked
perfect to me, but I could tell he was concerned. “I’m going to put an extra
pan of dressing in now,” he said, as he pushed a pan covered with tinfoil in
and to the side of the baking bird.

Our stove, which looks like a 1920s range, has a very large cook top,
but a pretty small oven. Still, he found a way to squeeze in the extra pan of

Our guests arrived all at once in a big, noisy crowd, each carrying a
platter, bowl or pie plate.

I sat their contributions on the serving tables and handed each a cup of
warm spiced cider. Then, as they all stood around the kitchen visiting and
laughing, I began to mash the potatoes.

Out of the corner of my eye I could see Al open the oven to check the
turkey again, and as he pulled out the large bird, the extra pan of dressing
he’d stuffed in, flew out. It landed with a loud clang, spilling stuffing like a
bridal veil across the kitchen floor.

Al’s face whitened as the cheery conversation halted momentarily.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll take care of it. Just concentrate on what
you’re doing.” And I quickly scooped up the pecans, cranberries and
breadcrumbs and tossed them in the garbage.

The tension subsided.

Al sat the fat, perfectly browned bird on the carving board. I spooned
steaming green beans into a serving dish. Another dish held a mountain of
mashed potatoes. Al was making gravy on the stove, stirring it steadily until
it thickened.
I started to place the dinner rolls he’d baked yesterday in a wicker

“They need to be warmed,” he said, taking the basket from my hands.

So I turned to the ambrosia, spooning it into a bowl embossed with
gold. Then I walked to the dining room and began placing the various bowls
of food.

Al started carving the turkey, laying the thick, juicy slices of white
meat on platters.

I smelled smoke. That seemed strange. What could be burning?

Al opened the microwave and pulled out the wicker basket full of
dinner rolls. Flames more than five-inches high were leaping from it. He ran
for the sink.

“Just blow it out,” I said. “Don’t get the rolls wet.”

“I can’t blow this out,” he said with an ‘Are you nuts?’ sound in his

He turned on the faucet as I grabbed for the rolls, trying to save as

many from the gushing cold water as I could.

Smoke filled the kitchen. The wicker basket and its cloth napkin fell
in great black ashes into the sink.

My arms full of rolls, I hurried to find another basket and pack them
in. That’s when I noticed our guests, huddled together near the patio door,
their eyes large and round, their mouths silently agape.

“Could you please open the door so we can air this out?” I asked.
“And maybe you could all go in the living room for a few minutes.”

“Yeah, so you can yell at him,” One of the men said.

Quickly our friends took their warm cider into the living room and
continued their lively conversations. And suddenly, the kitchen was empty
except for the smoky stench and the cold November air rushing in from the

I looked across the kitchen at Sweetheart Al who was studiously

slicing the bird.

“So I can yell at you,” I repeated.

Glancing up, his blue eyes held mine with a kind of serious

We both burst out laughing.


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