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November 22, 2006


sandy backlund

Dear Suzanne, It's fun to hear about your Thanksgiving memories. Every year my family gets to hear this one:

Ten years old, I loved to help my mother in the kitchen. This particular Thanksgiving, dinner was almost ready to put on the table. It was in the late 50's, and with our Green Stamps, we had "purchased" a torquoise three-tiered rolling metal cart. Thanksgiving Day was to be its debut, transporting the steaming plates of food to the dining room table in one trip. No running back and forth to the kitchen!

The table looked beautiful, with our best tablecloth. I had folded the napkins according to the Betty Crocker cookbook. Only twice a year, we used the stemmed water goblets and they were ready, filled with ice water.

Mother placed our best china dishes loaded with steaming, sliced turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, beans and homemade rolls and chilled cranberry relish and pickles on the cart just before she called our family and our company, Uncle Bob, Aunt George and Uncle Gene to the table.

Then she let ME push the cart into the dining room.

The cart rolled smoothly on the kitchen floor, but two factors worked together to spoil the journey: the fact that the top tray was intended to be lifted off by its handles so it was not fastened to the cart, and the small bump at the doorway to the dining room.

When the wheels hit the bump, the top tray, (turkey, potatoes and gravy level) came loose on one corner, pitching a warm, mushy food slide to level two and the wooden floor below. The dinner was a wreck.

I remember my mother pausing, then putting her fingers to her lips in "shhhh" before she put her apron back on. Metal spatula in hand, she worked quickly, saving what could be saved right off the floor, making more gravy, slicing more turkey, finding fresh serving bowls and wiping off greasy ones with a towel. She re-loaded the cart and helped me push it in this time.

I think no one would have known where that turkey had been from my mother's calm, innocent expression during dinner, but throughout the meal, devastated, I intermittently shook with the suppressed sobs of the guilty.

Dinner was delicious, although there was a slight shortage of mashed potatoes which no one mentioned.

No kitchen disaster of mine has ever compared to this, but if I ever have one, thanks to my mother, I'll know what to do.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sandy Backlund

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