The night before

download (1)nThere’s something about the stuffing. When we were kids, Wednesday Night was better than Thanksgiving. It was then, with only us in the house that the real Thanksgiving took place. Tomorrow we’d have a house full, but tonight, there was no stress, no worries, just the six of us.

The aroma of butter, onions and celery, (no garlic, that came years later when I met an Italian) frying in the cast iron skillet, the one that weighed more than the turkey that tomorrow would feed twenty people filled the kitchen, and crept through the house, and would stay until the morning, until the the bird got roasting.

Before the packaged stuffing there was plain old white bread, left on sheet pans all day. Day old bread in other words. My mother would cut it into little cubes, and put it in “The Big Bowl,” and when the onions and celery would cool, one of us got to mash it all together. It was one of the only times we got to touch our food, and touch it we did, smushing it with our hands, freshly washed, or course, the soaked bread squishing through our little fingers, our hands smelling like Bells Seasoning for a week. Somehow it was most often me who got to smush the stuffing. I took it as an honor, I was the Official Stuffing Smusher.

I’m still the Official Stuffing Smusher. The girls passed. I should have insisted, so they would have the memories I cherish. But those things never work that way, if I forced it, it would have been a chore, not a treat. I hope they have some fond, lasting memories from our families Wednesday nights. I’m sure they do.

Tonight, I’ll stand at my kitchen counter and smush some stuffing. I’ll probably use a spoon for a while, and toss the cubes around, but eventually I’ll dig in, and when I feel the familiar ooze between my fingers I’ll be back in 1970, in the old green kitchen on Haley Road, before we grew up and things got crazy.

I loved that old house. I hope that whoever is living there now lets their kids smush the stuffing.

I wonder where the Big Bowl is. I’d like to touch it one more time.

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