The kitchen is NOT my happy place. While I love enjoying delicious food prepared by others, when it comes to cooking, mine is limited to cooking up ideas for stories, cartoons, and solutions to problems. Food is something else altogether, my forays into the preparation of which have been accompanied by burns, cuts, and indigestion. Not my strong suit. So, frozen dinners and the microwave are how I subsist, and that's fine.

In the past, Thanksgiving was a very enjoyable shared event for me as I'd be with one or more friends, either in someone's home or in a restaurant. Not this year, thanks to the pandemic. Since I'm in a vulnerable demographic I continue to sequester, and regretfully had to decline a friend's very gracious invitation to join her and her family members for Thanksgiving. But it is what it is, and my priority during these crazy times is to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

And crazy times reminds me of one particular Thanksgiving . . . .

Many, many years ago a friend and I were living in a small two-bedroom apartment in the area now known as Koreatown. Thanksgiving was approaching, and we had been invited to a neighbor's home. A few days before Thanksgiving I came down with a horrendous cold or flu and, figuring it wouldn't have run its course by the holiday, declined the invitation. My friend, whom I urged to go without me, also declined as she could see I could barely get out of bed, so didn't want to leave me alone.

And then a miracle happened.

The day before Thanksgiving I woke up feeling terrific, full of energy, no sneezing, no coughing, no aches – this was the new and improved model!

In a moment of insanity, probably caused by fever having fried a few brain cells, I told my friend we were going to the market to pick up a turkey that I – yes, I -- would be preparing. The look on her face, a melding of panic, horror, and disbelief, is one I'll never forget. She attempted to dissuade me, but I was resolute.

We brought home a tiny frozen turkey that could have passed for a chicken. Truly, it was the runt of the litter. We also got a box of stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, biscuits, some frozen mixed vegetables, a bottle of wine, and a pumpkin pie. So far, so good. I stuck the bird in the fridge to thaw out overnight (it didn't take much room), and exulted over the fact that I was about to master that very special rite of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. OMG, talk about going from zero to 120!

I had a good night's sleep, got up early on Thanksgiving morning, and swaggered into MY kitchen to prepare the main course. Chef Sandra was in business. When I removed the bird I noticed an instruction on the plastic wrapping to remove the sack of giblets. Giblets? Oh, what a nice bonus, I thought, and started to rummage around in the bird.

No sack.

I rummaged some more, becoming increasingly agitated. The sound of me rattling around and cursing roused my friend, who cautiously sidled into the kitchen and approached me as if I were a rabid beast. When she softly asked me if anything was wrong and if she could help, I thrust the mangled bird at her and shrieked, "They sold us a defective turkey! It's supposed to have a @#$%&* giblet bag, and there's no @#$%&* giblet bag in there!"

A look of great pity crossed her face as she reached into the neck cavity and pulled out the bag. I had spent my energy on the other end, and that poor bird looked like a train wreck when I was through. (Well, biology was never my best subject.) My friend, not wanting to die of food poisoning that day, made a point of staying by my side for the duration of my cooking adventure, occasionally making a tactful suggestion, and we ended up with a delicious (if peculiar looking) turkey.

We laughed about that Thanksgiving meal for a long, long time, and I hope it makes you smile as well. Happy Thanksgiving, and bon appetit!


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