Madeline’s family was…well, crazy. This trait (that seemed to grow stronger the further down the family tree you go) always seemed to manifest itself around the holidays. No one knew why, but the otherwise normal family would take on a whole new persona around any family holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and sometimes even the 4th of July. And every holiday, Madeline would try to cut down the craziness (at least a little) by preparing the world’s best meal. Around Christmas, the mother to four would spend weeks researching recipes and making goodies and would always come up with a great new way of cooking the Christmas staple: Ham. And sure enough, every Christmas that family craziness would take hold of the family and everything would turn out wrong. The same thing would happen on Thanksgiving. Having never had a peaceful, storybook holiday before, Madeline was bent on getting her perfect holiday…no matter what. This Thanksgiving was going to be one for the scrapbooks, one that everyone would remember with a smile, one that would be perfect! This Thanksgiving was going to be a victory. It was going to be a day to be remembered! A day that would live on as…T-Day.
T-Day started off just like any other Thanksgiving day before it. Madeline was up before the sun had even cracked the horizon, busily straightening up the house and getting it ready for the onslaught of crazy that was sure to arrive in mere hours. Breakable items put away: Check. Electrical outlets covered: Check. Sharp objects removed from sight: Check. Madeline had to child-proof her home for her adult children.
After her house was safe enough to be a home for children on a sugar high, Madeline had to start the most important task on her agenda: Cooking the turkey. There are a lot of foods that are required for Thanksgiving. You have to have the cranberry sauce, stuffing, green bean casserole, a vegetable platter with various dips and pies galore. Yet, none of these would even phase a member of Madeline’s family without the infamous turkey.
Every year Madeline would work herself to the bone trying to cook the perfect turkey. A turkey that had just the right ratio of dark meat to light, one that had delicious golden-brown skin and succulent meat, one that would make this T-Day the best there has ever been. And every year, the turkey came out burned, or too tough, or the skin was so soggy it slid off the dry meat in was supposed to cover. But NOT this year. Madeline was bent on achieving the picture perfect Thanksgiving, and that meant cooking the picture perfect turkey. If she could just achieve that one feat, all the other events of this perfect T-Day would fall into place. However, this was no small feat.
Madeline took a slightly shaky breath as she stared at her foe. The glorious, round, shiny and intimidating 30 pound bird seemed to stare back (though Madeline was well aware that it lacked a head or eyes). For a few minutes, Madeline re-thought her battle plan. Should she just give up and cook a ham? Should she just order Japanese food and say “Sayonara” to the beast that has outwitted her for most of her adult life? No! Madeline was going to get her perfect Thanksgiving, and this monster of a turkey was going down.
Madeline put on her gloves (metaphorically and literally) and got down to business. She preheated, she unwrapped, she washed, she basted, she stuffed and she cooked like Madeline had never preheated, unwrapped, washed, basted, stuffed and cooked before. This mother was putting everything she had into this turkey…and everything seemed to be going great! As Madeline pushed the turkey into the oven (it’s a wonder it even fit!) she couldn’t help but smile a bit. This Thanksgiving was going to be great.
It was then that the doorbell rang, and Madeline knew she had her work cut out for her. The first of four children had arrived. Marcus made his way through the living room, only stumbling once and gave his mother a swift kiss on the cheek. It was 10 am and Marcus had already been dabbling in some Thanksgiving “spirits.” And by the state of his breath, he was extremely spirited. Madeline could cope with Marcus though, because at least he was a quiet and was usually passed out on the sofa by the time dinner was ready. As far as Marcus can remember, Thanksgiving dinner has always been great. And Madeline has always made it a habit to remind him of that fact when he woke up.
The next children arrived at the same time and Madeline could hear them coming a block away. Loud bass booming in their car, top down, not wearing coats (even though it was cold out). The twins always made an entrance. Jillian and Jodie clambered into the house, both carrying giant hampers full of dirty and smelly laundry. It seemed that since they were collage, they had forgotten how to do their own laundry. It didn’t take long for them to get into some kind of argument about a “hottie” professor they had and whether or not he was married. Madeline served some homemade peanut butter goodies and the girls were soon to busy trying to chew that they forgot to continue their conversation. By this time, Marcus was drifting in and out of sleep in a recliner, pretending to watch the Peanuts special on television that Madeline’s husband Pete had picked out.
Three children out of four were hear, and Madeline was coping well so far. She checked on her glorious turkey and when it appeared to be doing well, she basted it again and sighed a little. Slowly but surely, this day was getting better and better.
One last ring of the doorbell and Madeline knew the moment had arrived. Her second oldest child arrived, and she would test all of Madeline’s patience. Clarrisa was never happy with anything her mother did and had always been the most rebellious child of Madeline’s. That fact still rang true today. It was a wonder she even showed up to family gatherings. Madeline loved all her children with every once of her being, but that doesn’t mean she loved all of their decisions. Like Clarrisa’s decision to marry a punk-rocker whom she had known for less than a month, get pregnant, then file for divorce once her husband quit his band to get a day job to support their child. But Madeline loved her daughter any way, though she hated her choices.
As soon as Clarrisa waddled in, the twins (who had just finished their treats and were beginning to bicker about something else) immediately went quiet, Marcus jolted awake in his chair and Madeline’s husband Pete buried his nose in the paper. Madeline was the only member of the family to greet Clarrisa to which Clarrisa didn’t even respond. She just plopped herself down on the couch and kicked off her shoes. With that, the whole gang had finally arrived. And no one had attempted to kill each other!
Madeline rejoiced too soon, however, as all pandemonium broke loose when Clarrisa dismounted from the couch and tried to take the last peanut butter goodie (which Jillian had claimed for herself). Soon words were flying about Jillian eating too many sweets, Jodie not eating enough and Clarrisa using her pregnancy to get attention. It didn’t take long until fists were about ready to fly. Madeline tried her best to get between the squabbling siblings but nothing was working. Even Pete got his head out of his paper and tried to help simmer things down by singing “Kumbaya” though it seemed to only add one more level of sound to the madness.
Suddenly, Clarrisa stopped, fist in the air with her mouth open ready to spew another hateful comment about her sisters’ weights. She gasped and brought both of her hands to her stomach. Immediately everyone was silent and no one moved. Then almost as sudden as they had paused, the house was full of hectic motions and talking, this time everyone was had a similar goal and no longer worried about themselves. Rather, the focus was on Clarrisa and her soon coming baby. Everyone rushed out of the house, barely taking time to grab their coats and rushed Clarrisa to the hospital. For the moment, Madeline had forgotten all about her “perfect” Thanksgiving and about her turkey, still baking in the oven.
After three hours of labor, another soul joined Madeline’s family, a beautiful baby girl named Lindsey. It wasn’t until the nurse brought in Clarrisa’s hospital meal of jell-o, green beans and dry turkey that Madeline remembered her own turkey still at home.
Madeline and Pete said a hasty goodbye and raced back to their house, expecting the house to be ablaze from the inside or the rooms full of smoke. Instead, their house seemed to be completely normal. Madeline rushed into the house to discover…no fire. Not even a trace of smoke or even a charred smell in the air. It was then that Madeline noticed that the oven had been turned off (though she knew that she hadn’t done it). When Pete came inside, she asked him if he had been smart enough to turn off the stove. Of course he hadn’t, Pete replied. He didn’t even realize it was on (what can you expect?). Madeline then dared to open the oven.
And there it sat: The most beautiful turkey Madeline had ever seen. When she removed it from the oven, the delicious smell that followed seemed to fill the whole house. And how moist it was once they carved it! Madeline and Pete took as much of the turkey as they could carry back to the hospital to share with their family. For once, the Madeline’s family had a nice dinner, with the bickering being replaced with excited talking about Lindsey and how beautifully perfect she was. Madeline was finally blessed with a great T-Day, as well as what would now be Lindsey’s B-Day. And life couldn’t have been any sweeter.