Sometimes it is necessary to go to Plan B.
Last Thanksgiving our Cleveland kids were with us for Thanksgiving, as well as our St Paul kids and my Dad. I admit I always get a little nervous about fixing Thanksgiving dinner. Perhaps it is because I don't often fix a full turkey, and I never make mashed potatoes, even though I love them. And gravy, well, that still feels like a mystery to me, for some reason.
Last year was my first time to fix Thanksgiving dinner in our teeny tiny kitchen, and I wasn't sure how I was going to manage it. As I retrieved my Thanksgiving folder where I keep our menus from year to year and copies of all our traditional recipes, I felt like a general preparing for battle. I checked and rechecked my grocery lists--one for Target, one for Trader Joes, and one for Lunds, where I do most of my shopping. For days I lugged in bags of groceries from the car, making sure I didn't forget anything.
I ordered a fresh turkey from Lunds, but was a bit nervous about it. In Ohio I went to a butcher in Amish country every year and ordered a fresh turkey, but here the first man I spoke with at the meat market didn't seem to think they sold fresh turkeys. No worries, the big bird was waiting for me when I picked it up the day before Thanksgiving.
Wednesday I did as much of the preparations as I could and set the table, too, which is actually one of my favorite parts of entertaining. At Thanksgiving I love using our vintage Johnson Brothers turkey dinner plates, gold tone glassware, and Bakelite-handled flatware. A pretty table says, "Welcome. We are so happy to share our home with you."
Plus, being a good Thanksgiving general, I strategized a plan to make sure everything would be ready to serve at the right time. I calculated how long something needed to be in the oven and for how long. And I made a major decision about the dinner's star, the turkey.
I set up a card table in the lower level for the electric roaster. That's where I would roast the turkey. It would be out of way and free oven space for the rest of the feast. Perfect. I did a happy dance and congratulated myself for my brilliant idea.
Thursday morning I prepared the turkey--stuffed it, trussed it, rubbed it with a butter and wine mixture a la Martha Stewart and at the right time placed it carefully, even lovingly in the electric roaster, following all instructions, of course. I returned upstairs and announced my success to the rest of the family.
The first time I returned downstairs for the next round of basting, I wondered why I didn't smell anything nor was there any sound of gentle percolating. I touched the roaster --and it was cold. I didn't panic, yet. I checked to make sure I had actually turned it on. The light was on, but there was no heat. I plugged something else into the socket and that didn't seem to be the problem. The roaster simply was not doing its thing. Help!!! Now what?
That's where I needed Plan B.
Fortunately, I had a roasting pan large enough to hold our turkey and fortunately, it would fit in my oven. I loaded the bird into the pan and lugged it upstairs. Some juggling and help from the rest of my team was required, but somehow everything was done at the same time, just a little later than planned, and we sat down at our beautiful table and gave thanks for the food we ate and the love we share each and every day.
I believe in having a Plan B, but I also know sometimes things happen that require flexibility, ingenuity, and recalibration. And sometimes things happen that just can't be predicted. Those moments are often what we most remember. Those moments often reveal who we are and what matters most. Those moments are often where we recognize grace.
As you sit down to your own Thanksgiving dinner, I pray you have a day in which you recognize and acknowledge what most matters to you and whatever happens, I hope you feel the touch of the Divine. Happy Thanksgiving!
When have you needed Plan B. I would love to know.