Column: Reflecting on our Thanksgiving turkey

Reporter Kate Saylors loves turkey – like, really loves turkey.

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. It’s a celebration of everything I love – good friends, good food and a great time of year.

This Thanksgiving, I went to the home of a friend with a very large and lovable family. My Thanksgiving dinners when I lived at home were never that huge – usually just the immediate family – so it was nice to be pulled into a huge family gathering. Not to mention, nearly everyone brought a dessert, so we lucked out on that front. A small slice of everything, please.

Thanksgiving is a pretty simple holiday, really. Gather, share food, be thankful for what you have, and do what you can to help others. It’s simpler than Christmas, with the expectations about gifts and shopping and creating the perfect day. Thanksgiving is Christmas’ cool younger sibling: not too fussy and all about the good stuff. My kind of holiday.

As a kid, we never ate turkey on Thanksgiving at my house. Neither of my parents really liked it, and eating turkey is just a tradition, so instead we just ate what we liked, which was usually roast beef, sometimes roast chicken (if my mom decided there should “be a bird on the table” for convention’s sake).

Bottom line is, I didn’t realize how much I loved turkey until I was grown up and living on my own. The first year I moved here, I decided I would do up a big dinner for myself. I scaled everything down to feed one person for a few days, but there was still the turkey: My mom suggested I buy a turkey breast or a small chicken, to spare me the cooking and cleaning of a huge turkey dinner.

But here’s the thing: I could get a tiny little turkey for $10 or $12 – or I could buy part of a turkey for $15. That just seemed silly, so home I went with the smallest turkey I could find.

This always makes my mom laugh, the thought of her daughter cooking a turkey for one. It’s actually become such a joke in my family that every year, someone will send me a grocery gift card with $20 on it and the instruction to “go buy myself a turkey.”

That first year, and the two since then, I’ve made myself a turkey and loved every bit of it. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but I’m convinced there is no feeling quite like pulling a perfect golden roast turkey out of the oven.

But what to do with it all, you ask? That’s a good question, and one I asked myself the first year as well. Fortunately for me, turkey is versatile and I am an inventive cook with freezer space. Every ounce got eaten, and I had my turkey fix until next year.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, filled with friends and family. With the turmoil in our community right now, I hope we all gave some thought to just how lucky we are; that we are alive and safe and dry. Not everyone in our community was so lucky this year; many are displaced, living in hotels or without a warm and dry place altogether. Thanksgiving is just once a year, but we need to think about these issues all year along. After all, winter and Christmas aren’t all that far away.

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