My family of four celebrated Thanksgiving Day in three different places. I have come to accept that this is how life is as the children grow older and have exciting opportunities. We all arrived home for the weekend to celebrate our Thanksgiving on Saturday and maintain some of our traditions even if they couldn’t happen on Thanksgiving Thursday.
We ate the traditional meal which we prepared together over several hours and then ate in under thirty minutes. As we worked to clean up, I had a moment of pause as I tackled the leftover turkey carcass. I usually take off as much meat as I can and guiltily throw the bones away. For some reason I wrapped the whole thing up as is and stuffed it into the fridge.
I’m not sure why but thoughts of my grandmother who has been gone for more than twenty Thanksgivings drifted into my mind. Just like we could count on mashed potatoes and gravy as a side to our Thanksgiving meal, we could also count on some form of turkey soup on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I have always felt a bit guilty for just tossing out the carcass but I have just let it go.
I am not sure what possessed me to follow in my grandmother’s kitchen footsteps but I changed things up. Nothing in her soup came from a box or can… fresh and homemade was her standard. Anything else just didn’t exist. After much googling, I found directions for making turkey stock from a carcass that seemed to be a lot like what my grandmother did.
Sunday morning was gray and chilly and the house was quiet. I pulled carrots, onions, celery and thyme out of my refrigerator. I cut the carrots and celery up into large pieces and added them to the pot with the turkey pieces. I quickly cut onion into quarters and tossed it into the pot before my eyes watered. I rubbed the thyme between my hands and sprinkled it into the pot. The smell of the fresh cut vegetables and whiff of onion reminded me of my grandmother and I felt like she was there with me. I imagined she might have tutted a bit because she would have thought I needed to get more meat off the bones but also smiling because she was glad to see I wasn’t being so wasteful. I set the pot to simmer for a few hours.
Later in the day I walked the dog and when I came back into the house I felt like I had traveled back in time. The comforting smell of the simmering pot of stock made me feel as though I was entering the front hallway of my grandmother’s house. So homey and cozy… I missed her and felt like she was with me all at the same time.
In true Granny fashion, I rolled up my sleeves and strained out the stock and poured half back into the pot. The other half I let cool and poured into containers for the freezer. I imagined a nod of approval for planning ahead and having stock to make soups in the future.
I diced more carrots, celery and spices and tossed into the pot with the turkey. Later I added rice and dinner was ready. As I sat down to eat I breathed in the steamy aroma, enjoyed and remembered.