Most American occaisions have a very strong food component. What's Valentine's Day without chocolate? Fourth of July without a barbeque? Back to school without an apple? Thanksgiving without turkey? Americans love their feasts. One year at my house, we had the rarest of days. Thanksgiving. Without. Leftovers.
I spent 20 years in the military. From the FIRST year I was in (when we raided the histo lab to steal a needle to sew up the turkey....ah, never mind about that one), to my very last, it was ALWAYS a cookfest. One year, at 8 a.m. I had no idea who was coming over. By 2, my house was stuffed with 18 guests. Every year, either I was toting food, or folks were coming over.
The last year I made Thanksgiving for my peeps, we'd been working crazy shifts. We had activated our reservists. We all worked like dogs. Thanksgiving was an entire day off, and it was a luxury. I was just plain lucky-the grocery across from the base was opened til midnight, which is the only humane shopping hour after November 15 in any calendar year. I asked my crew over, because that's what you do when you work with 19 year olds away from their moms for the first time. You ask all the people you can tolerate who may not have other plans.
And it was great-turkey, taters, pumpkin cake, yummy ham, sides, and five dinner guests. Nothing burned, everything was done at the right time, and there were no mortifying moments. The china looked great on the table. But it quickly turned into the Thanksgiving from hell, the one that scarred my husband for life.
Chown**, who I worked with in Germany, LOVED the pumpkin cake. I think he was very happy to have real food. Debbie and Susie from Vogelweh were there too, as were Lulu and her sister. As is my custom, I offered to make up a plate of leftovers for later in the evening, when everyone was back at their barracks. So I made snack plates for Chown, Debbie and Susie. Because they lived in the barracks, and had enjoyed it so much, I offered Chown the rest of the cake-it wasn't like my fat butt needed it. Smiles all around.
Lulu and her sister made "let's get going" noises. So I trotted over to the counter, and whipped out the Chinet and foil to make them little plates. I turned around, and was stunned to see Lulu digging in her enormous purse. She straightened up, and slowly turned around, brandishing an object that would make Miss Manners weep, and make any hostess dive for the rolling pin in self defense. She clutched a package of Hefty quart-sized zipper-lock freezer bags. The econo pack. Unopened. Her sister was rolling up her sleeves.
They fell upon the ham and turkey like cannibals on a fat guy. My DH still recalls, with a shudder, their ability to debone a turkey from twenty feet. And when they left, all the food went with them. My DH was distraught. NO turkey sandwich. No gravy and taters! Nada. I think I had enough ham to make a bean soup with. All my new Tupperware sat, pristine, virginal, ignored. Empty.
In my house, if you want to see a grown man cry, take away his leftover turkey. DH sulked, pouted, groused. There was absolutely nothing he could do. It was the Thanksgiving with no leftovers. And that man still holds a grudge.
** all names have been changed to protect the innocent, and shield the guilty.