When the birds flock south for the dinner…


Like many families, I used to love the tradition of the extended family flocking to one house for the annual feast. Since all the kids and cousins have flown the coop and have families of our own, the tradition of the big gathering has gone the way of birds. That doesn’t stop my folks from enjoying the tradition of cooking the full meal and spending it with family.

This year my mom and dad will be flying south to join my little rebel nest in the desert. They will make the pilgrimage in the big truck, taking two days and packing most of the feast fixings. (Just picture the modern-day covered wagon with four-wheel drive and recorded books on disc.)

It doesn’t really take two days. They just like to enjoy the ride through the desert. I don’t blame them. If I were 75 years old, I too would stop and smell the roses (or admire a bunch of brittle sage) in the great, frigid basin.

Lately, it’s been snowing in their neck of the woods. That won’t stop them. They’ll just drive slower; perhaps stay an extra night on the road. Snowy, icy roads are something I avoid. (Just another reason to live in the Southwest.)

Weather will not deter my parents. Hazardous road conditions can be dealt with. Their covered wagon also comes with snow tires and chains when necessary. 

With dad to navigate and plan the trip, my mom has been busy planning the whole feast. They’ve been married for over 55 years, and she still loves to cook the big Thanksgiving Day meal.

So, as long as she wants to cook it, I’m more than happy to make her happy. I look forward to this year’s big production and mom taking over the kitchen. She is even packing in most of the fixings:

  • Cranberry sauce (freshly made)
  • Stuffing makings: fresh celery, onion, Italian sausage
  • Cornbread stuffing mix (Trader Joes, a bit lazy this year?)
  • Rolls
  • Yams
  • Potatoes
  • Spices
  • Apple pie makings (yellow delicious)
  • Pumpkin pie makings
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Brown sugar

And, wait for it…

  • Muffin mix (triple chocolate, Weight Watchers. Huh?!)

She says that I could “help greatly” by picking up the following items:

  • Fresh turkey (actually frozen)
  • Fresh green beans
  • Baby carrots
  • Shelled hazelnuts

I will try to take notes this year. For those that know, I am not a great cook. I’m better at cooking the bird and watching football. (My lack of culinary talent probably results from spending two hours in the swimming pool before dinner most weekdays growing up. I didn’t spend much time picking up on the nuances of meal planning.) That ends this year. I will try to focus on the whole production. (Even though the Jets game is on a national broadcast.) 

Note on the graphic: The other night, I created this cornucopia from scratch in Illustrator. I was inspired by my six-year-old son’s first-grade class paper mosaic.



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