To be honest, I've never thought much about even trying to roast a turkey. We've always traveled at Thanksgiving.
Growing up, it was a five-hour drive to southern Ohio to visit two sets of grandparents. Since marriage, it's been a 90-minute jaunt west to the Graham's, or a 90-minute jaunt east to the Phillips's.
When you drive for the holiday, you are designated as "side dish" people. We're usually asked to bring things like a vegetable tray or a dessert, never the turkey. That would be just weird.
There were times I secretly wished we lived even further away from our folks, far enough away to have to fly in.
Think about it; you never see anyone on a plane with a green bean casserole.
Times are changin', however. Our parents are older, one of them gone, and the children are almost to the stage of starting their own lives, heading to destinations unknown.
My nephew called about a month ago and said, "I heard you're having Thanksgiving this year."
This was news to me.
"And just who started that nasty rumor?" I asked.
"Your son John sent out a mass e-mail to the extended family. Didn't you know?"
It took me five minutes to get to the meat of the matter.
"John, why did you tell the family we're having Thanksgiving?"
"That's what Grandma said!"
Grandma carries a lot of power, especially in the eyes of a 10-year-old.
I called the Queen Mother to clarify the situation.
"I didn't say you were having Thanksgiving," she asserted. "We were just talking about the holiday in general."
"Well, there's no reason I can't have it. It's just that I was surprised to hear about it from someone else. Usually the hostess knows first."
Mom hesitated, and then shouted, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too!"
"Oh, sorry, Honey, I'm just watching 'Wheel of Fortune' again."
"You know, Mom I'm thinking about getting some china."
"Why would you do that?" she asked.
"Well, I would like to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table for one thing."
"But, I have all this china you'll be getting when I'm dead!"
"Mom , as it stands, you are not dead, and it would appear that you are not going anywhere fast."
"Some days it feels that I am."
"You're a healthy 72-year-old woman. You're good for another 20 at least."
"Still, save your money on the china. Maybe you should get one of those nice roasting pans instead."
I'm thinking I might get more use out of a really large carving knife at this point.
The truth is, I love the holidays, especially Thanksgiving. It's the one holiday that has managed to escape at least some measure of commercialism.
Thanksgiving is my brother stirring the gravy, and 11 cousins playing a game of Risk.
It's my mother-in-law's pies and my father-in-law's jokes.
It's my mom's Franciscan Ware China, whith the little apples on the rim of each plate, and the memory of my dad putting the napkin rings in his eye sockets.
It's an overload of food, followed by tryptophan comas, a day with the people I love most.
We will pack two dozen plus relatives into our home this year, eat heartily and praise God for the blessings in our lives. There will be chaos and laughter, and possibly an overcooked bird.
There will not be fine china. But, there will be my mother.
And for this, I am thankful.