Thoughts on Thanksgiving by Carolyn Rodgers, Cook*
I remember the first Thanksgiving meal that I ever cooked. My husband, who was my fiancé at the time, said that I should do the turkey because I was a cook. I was working at Pappas Restaurant at the time; I was a short order cook and I had never prepared a main course.
I put the turkey in a very large pan filled with water—I thought I would boil it down. I thought that’s where the gravy would come from. My fiancé looked at it and said he didn’t remember that his mother used so much water. I didn’t say anything, but I was panicked. I didn’t want to ask any family member for advice, so I called my friend Margaret, who was a cook for the Mission Helpers. After she finished laughing, she told me to get rid of the water, dry the turkey, salt and pepper it and put it in a pan with a tight lid. She said it would make its own gravy.
It turned out beautifully and I’ve been roasting turkeys like that ever since—hundreds of turkeys.
And that’s how I’ll roast the turkey for the Mission Helpers’ Thanksgiving dinner. I like everything that I cook for the Sisters, but Thanksgiving is special. I prepare the turkey, potatoes and dressing the day before, and the Sisters prepare their special dishes. Sister Dolores does a multi-layered gelatin salad and makes rolls; Sister Dolly makes a great cranberry mold, Sister Natalie prepares green beans with almonds…
I love Thanksgiving. I love what I fix for the Sisters, and, on Thanksgiving Day, I love being with my family. For me, the day is all about family and friends. Everyone comes together; all the food is fresh—nothing from cans on Thanksgiving Day. And we laugh; there is lots of laughter.
There will be 17 or more people. Before the meal, we form a circle, hold hands and thank God. We each give God thanks for something—even the littlest children. This takes a long time, but everyone gets to express their gratitude.
I believe that gratitude can take you a long, long way. If you’re thankful to God, God will bless you, and the more thanks you give, the more God will be thankful for you. When the praises go up, the blessings come down. I really believe that.
Being together and being thankful is what it’s all about. Everybody has something they can be thankful for—everybody. Even if you live in a hut, you can say, “Thank you, God, for this space.” On Thanksgiving, you thank the Lord for everything and everybody—that’s it.
*Carolyn Rodgers has been the cook for the Mission Helpers Community since 1984 and has never served the Sisters a boiled turkey.