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The Bird Thaws at Midnight


I would like to describe to you the events of last Thanksgiving. Here’s the particulars of the situation before I dive into the “meat” of the matter. I was not hosting last year, the family was gathering at my Aunt’s house, which at this time last year was in Morristown. Thanksgiving for me began on the Wednesday night before. It was around 9:00 when the phone rang, I was sitting quietly listening to some Jazz, and reading a copy of “The Big Sleep” that had been sitting on my coffee table for months. 

My house phone is one of those that speaks the name of the caller as it rings, I always wait for it to tell me who it is, so I don’t have to get up for some damn telemarketer. The phone indicated that it was my Aunt who was calling, so I rushed over to the receiver. Upon answering I could tell that my Aunt was in something of a panic. “It’s frozen! What am I going to do?” was the response when I said “hello.” I would soon learn that my Aunt was referring to the 20 pound turkey she had bought to cook that year. It had been in her fridge since Monday, and was still solid rock frozen. 

“You’re the one who fixes these things! What am I going to do?” Over this I could hear the sounds of my Aunt’s grandchildren running around. My Aunt is their caretaker, and we all try to do the best we can tp help out my Aunt, especially after the year she threw a casserole out window and yelled “I am the god of hellfire!” Thinking quickly, I asked my Aunt if she had a five gallon bucket and a spare brick. You can soak the bird in cold water, held down by the brick, and it’s thawed by morning—assuming you change the water every few hours or so. 

I described all of these things to my Aunt, she had none of them, and the sound of desperation and terror in her voice crescendoed with a cry of “Can you come down here!?” “Coming down here” would mean at least a drive of an hour, and an arrival that wouldn’t be till around 10:30. It was clear that there was only one thing to do, pack a bag, load some turkey thawing gear, and drive to Morristown. I took my weekender bag out of my closet, filled it with what I would need, both a change of clothes and my Thanksgiving clothes, tossed in my bathroom bag, my phone charger, a pair of headphones, and off I went. 

I stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts and grabbed a coffee before I hit the highway, I had a feeling this would be a night in which sleep wouldn’t come till the wee small hours. After an hour and five minutes, with just a quarter full coffee cup, I made it to my Aunt’s house. My Aunt came rushing to the door in an apron that had seen better days and was covered in flour. My Aunt rushed over to hug me as soon as I opened my car door, leaving the imprint of flour on my dark argyle sweater. Brushing it off I walked to the back of my car, grabbed my bag, and the thawing bucket. 

I walked into the house, dropped my bag right by the door, went straight into the kitchen and placed the frozen turkey—now sitting in the sink—into the bucket, and rushed it straight off to the guest bathroom.  Cold water in the bucket, brick on the bird, the turkey was ready to start coming back from it’s frozen state. I reassured my Aunt that all would be fine come the morning, and I settled into the guest bedroom. I didn’t bother to unpack, I just tossed my bag into a corner of the room, and crashed onto the bed. 

It was a quarter to midnight, after spending about 15 minutes catching my breath, I got up to survey the mess in the kitchen. To say it looked like a tornado had been through it would be kind, it looked like every desperate thawing method possible had been used—the most notable one being the hair dryer plugged up by the sink. I told my Aunt to go to bed, and that I would clean the kitchen up. Cleaning up the kitchen took another hour, by the time I had brushed my teeth, and gotten into bed, it was almost one in the morning. 

I couldn’t sleep, I was too amped up from all that had gone on. My phone wasn’t quite dead yet, I grabbed it to check Facebook. What I had forgotten, is that my Aunt’s house in Morristown was in a more rural area, cell phone reception was spotty at best, and my Aunt’s husband is a technical luddite who doesn’t believe in wifi. From the part of the house that the guest bedroom was in, I was shut off from the world. Trying to figure out how to ease my mind, I started to search what was on my phone. I plugged my phone in, and fell asleep to an episode of “The Munsters” that happened to be hiding in my videos. 

I slept in the following day, no one woke me up. I did somehow manage to get the video on my phone to play on repeat, so I did wake up the sounds of Grandpa Munster saying “Herman!” I unplugged my phone, sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, then stood up and left the bedroom and went into the guest bath. The bird was fine, it was ready to go, the giblets packet was still a little chunky with ice, but that didn’t matter. As the rest of my family showed up, I stayed in the kitchen and helped get the meal ready. Even though I wasn’t having anyone over, I still managed to find myself cooking portions of the meal. 

The meal was the typical affair it always is, I eat, try to avoid some family members. I answer the same questions over and over again “No, I don’t have a girlfriend,” and “Yes, I still write for that paper.” But the one notable thing about this year’s festivities is that there was a distinct upswing in talk of Black Friday, and by that I mean “there was talk of going to Black Friday.” But as the day went on, it more became a situation of “Andy, you’re young, be a dear and go get these things for us on Black Friday.” I was handed a list at 10:45 the night of Thanksgiving. That, however, is a story for next week.

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