It takes less time to do thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong.

My Thanksgiving Day fail: learning the true meaning of the holidays

A tale of two turkeys - one 'fully cooked' one ready to eat.

A tale of two turkeys – one “fully cooked” one ready to eat.

With my father’s Lewy Body Dementia, it has become difficult to take him from his home for long periods of time, particularly while herding young children. He is most comfortable there so, it was decided we should have Thanksgiving dinner at his house this year.

My husband is generally the purveyor of thanksgiving in this family. He loves getting up early in the morning and starting the turkey, filled with his special stuffing. It is a stuffing that my ninety-year-old grandmother declared “the best stuffing I ever tasted.” But, because we were coming from our cabin in Estes with other guests this year, it was not going to be possible to prepare the traditional Hunt style Thanksgiving dinner.

I decided instead to order one of those precooked meals I have heard the grocery stores talking about. I would walk in as we made it to Greeley, head to a counter, and like magic, dinner would be served.  Perhaps it would not the best dinner, but a worry-free, traditional dinner that we could enjoy as a family.


When we arrived at dad’s house, he was hungry and let us know. My husband and I headed out to grab the boxed dinner while my sister took care of set-up there.  On the way to the grocery store I recounted to my husband the many nightmares I had last night. I dreamt over and over again that I walked up to the counter and they had no meal for us. “It will be fine” he told me. But we laughed about how we have never let strangers take control of something as important as Thanksgiving dinner.

Show time! I walked up to the grocery store deli counter. They had a beautiful box ready to go with our meal in it; including a “fully cooked turkey.” The girl behind the counter passed me the box and said, “Instructions are right on top. The turkey will only take about three hours to cook.”

Three hours????!!!!!!

Three hours?????!!!!!

Three hours? I have a hungry father at home that is getting “Hangry”
(That is a term my friend Laura uses that means Hungry + Angry. )

I stared down at this nicely packed box and looked at a very cold; yet, according to the package “fully cooked turkey.”

At this point, my mind ceased to function. This was the biggest Thanksgiving Day Fail I have ever been a part of and even worse – it was my fault. How could I have been so foolish to miss the fact that this meal still required three hours of cooking?

So, lost and clueless, I texted my sister.

Meanwhile, back at dad’s house….  My sister prepared an extra vegetable dish as my father watched her.  At one point my father said, “Amy, this might be weird but, what are we even celebrating again? I forgot.”

Once she received my text, rather than experiencing my helpless and frozen mental state, she instantly drew upon her prior knowledge.  With the resourcefulness of any child living through the eighties, this means her background knowledge involved the movie “A Christmas Story.” She said she surveyed the people there and the only thought that occurred to her was, “I need to get dad ready to go out for Chinese.”

Alive and well despite a Thanksgiving fail

Alive and well despite a Thanksgiving fail

Finally, back at the store, a zombie like search for gluten free dressing had us all calmed down. My husband said, “Rotisserie Chicken! No one will know.” And with that sounding better than Chinese, we went back towards the deli. We were saved, right there next to the chickens were true “fully cooked” turkey breasts. We grabbed a few packages and headed home.

So, my thanksgiving fail was avoided. We still have a “fully cooked” turkey in our freezer. And, I was reminded once again that the things we put so much importance into on this holiday season are really not important at all.  In the end, I had to wonder whether the story we laughed about all afternoon was far better than a fully cooked turkey.