My plate is empty. The turkey will not be ready for several hours. Still I stay near the kitchen, plate in one hand, silverware in the other. No one is behind me, but I fear if I leave my post for even a second, a line will form in my absence. Today will not turn out like the last few Thanksgivings. I refuse to once again watch all the others devour legs and wings and white meat while I suffer the remains of a turkey neck and scrapings from the bottom of the mash potato bowl. I shall do more than drink the juicy remains of the vegetables. Attention yams and green beans, be ready for consumption. At long last, I will finally learn the flavor of home-made stuffing.
I shall have desert! This year I will actually taste the hot apple pie instead of being taunted by the lingering aroma that proved it had once existed. And I will have it ala mode! I can already envision a hearty scoop of French vanilla slowly melting over the piping hot wedge of pie. Or perhaps I would rather enjoy a slice of cheddar dissolving into the crust. The decision will be hard. But wait, I am first in line, I can have my pie in both fashions. No dilemma here.
Checking the clock, it is still two hours before dinner will be ready. The roasting bird has spread its tantalizing smell throughout the house. My mouth salivates in anticipation. I set my plate and silverware momentarily down. Fearful of drooling, I tuck a corner of a napkin into my collar, smooth the opposite corner to my belly, and pull the cross corners to each shoulder. I retrieve my place setting.
I hope this plate is large enough. I try to estimate how I will divide the portions onto it. Right away I know half the plate will be dedicated to holding meat. That leaves the other half for stuffing, mash potatoes, green beans and a roll. It's going to be a tight fit, and I haven't even calibrated the gravy coverage. Gravy should cover the white meat and the potatoes, but what about the stuffing. Should I give the stuffing a healthy dose of gravy? Decisions, decisions...
Oh, no, I forgot about the cranberry. The plans I made for my plate did not include cranberry. Perhaps I can slide a portion between turkey leg and the roll. If necessary, I can place my roll on top of the white meat. This should free up about two inches for the cranberry. That won't work, I just recalled that the roll will be setting atop the green beans. Should I mix the cranberry with the green beans? This is getting harder and harder to figure out. I should go grab pencil and paper so I can create a scale design for my thanksgiving plate. Yes, that's what I'll do. No guests have arrived yet. I think I can risk going into my study for sketch materials. I set my dinner plate and silverware down, and head to the room down the hall.
I find a drawing pad and start to look for pencils. I want a number 6b lead for drawing. 6b is a soft lead good for either light or dark lines. Looking through a drawer of pencils and pens, I'm not having any luck finding a 6b. After a fruitless search, I settle on a substitute lead, a 4b. 4b is a little harder than 6b, and leaves a lighter mark. It will have to do. I use a sharpener on the pencil and bring it to fresh point. Now to find an eraser. I'm not as picky about erasers, and a grab a pink pearl. This will suffice.
Upon my return to the kitchen, I discover Bob standing in my place. I lost the top spot on my venture to the study. I look at the clock and see that almost two hours has gone by. I had been so busy planning out my plate and looking for pencils, that two hours had sped by. I will have to settle on being number two. This is still a big improvement over my prior year position as dead last. I greet Bob and wish him a happy Thanksgiving. He shakes my hand and returns the good wishes.
I hear a commotion from the living room as more guests arrive. Linda, my better half and holiday chef, greets them by saying they are just in time. Dinner is ready. She returns to the kitchen and pulls the bird from the oven. I hear Sheila call out for Bob. They have been married for over a decade and have four children. Bob yells to her that he's in the kitchen. Sheila greets me as she passes by and stands next to Bob. She then calls out to the kids to come get in line. The little brats join their parents and have brought another brat with them. I have been shoved back to the eight position in line. The extra brat belonged to Jim and Marsha. They saunter up to their child and thank him for holding a place for them. I have been relegated to the tenth spot.
Bob and Sheila are being served as two more guests arrive. It is Sheila's parents. She instructs the kids to make room for Grammy and Grampy. These old people haven't been in the house a full minute and they were already at the head of the food line. The line is slowly moving along. I stare up ahead to watch the vittles slowly vanish.
I have ended up being last again. By the time it is my turn the choice delights have been taken. I am left with half a turkey neck and the scrapings from the mash potato bowl. Once again, I am the last person to get Thanksgiving dinner. Next year, I shall get in line a day earlier.