Thanksgiving in July

Last week’s July Fourth holiday didn’t quite go as planned. I was supposed to be sitting atop the White Mountains breathing fresh air and basking in the sunshine. Instead, I was sitting in Stoneham at my dining room table enjoying a Thanksgiving feast. 

The washout weather was a big factor in my change of plans. After a miserable Memorial Day weekend in May, who would have thought July 4th would follow suit? Between the rain and the low temperatures, it didn’t take much convincing to postpone my travel plans and prepare to hunker down at home.

I wasn’t expecting a Thanksgiving dinner, but there was a 15 lb. frozen turkey taking up all the space in my refrigerator’s freezer. Since a new fridge was being delivered Monday, my wife thought it would be a good idea to clean things out before the Home Depot Truck arrived.

The timing was perfect. My wife had the weekend off. My son and his family had postponed their barbecue plans. I gained an extra day because of the holiday so I had some rare free time. It sounded like a plan. July 3rd was now going to be our Thanksgiving in July! 

Saturday morning started out just like any other holiday. An armed militia caused the closure of Route 128 in both directions. The towns next to us, Reading and Wakefield, were issued shelter in place orders. What a way to start the day! I thought my son might have to work at Channel 7 to cover the breaking news story keeping with his usual Thanksgiving tradition of being four hours late for dinner, but this year he was not called in. I held out hope the highways would reopen before dinner was ready so his family wouldn’t have any trouble commuting to Stoneham by the time the turkey was done.

My wife and I kept an eye on the news praying for a quick and peaceful resolution to the armed stand-off that was happening a couple of miles away from our street. We distracted ourselves by shifting into holiday house-cleaning mode. By the time we finished dusting and vacuuming, the police arrested the armed suspects without incident and the roads were reopened. Crisis averted.

My wife prepared the turkey – homemade stuffing with the works – and popped the bird into the oven. The turkey cooked for about an hour before a power failure hit the electric grid on my street. Power failures on are not uncommon in this area. Usually it’s a quick flicker of lights and a reset on the microwave clock and we’re back in business. Of course because we planned a holiday dinner, the power didn’t come back on. It looked like our 3 p.m. meal was going to be postponed. I called my son and told him to sit tight until I found out when and if electricity would be restored. I really thought I was going to have to finish cooking the turkey in my new gas grill. We decided to leave it in the oven and adjust our cooking time on the other end. An hour and a half later things were up and running and dinner was back on track. Another crisis averted.

When my son and his family arrived, the day unfolded like any other holiday. The living room television played the Yule Log channel, complete with Christmas carols. There was an appetizer platter featuring blueberry goat cheese. We played board games until dinner was ready. 

In keeping with the spirit of the Fourth of July, the dining room table was decorated in red, white and blue. But instead of hot dogs and hamburgers, dinner featured turkey with homemade stuffing and gravy, candied yams with marshmallow topping, peas, mashed potatoes with cranberry sauce (the jellied kind, not the gross whole berries), rolls and butter. We couldn’t find apple cider at Market Basket, apparently it’s out of season around here. 

For a Fourth of July dessert, my son brought a whipped cream strawberry shortcake with “Happy Thanksgiving” written on top. A Friendly’s Watermelon Roll ice-cream cake neatly tied both holidays together.

As I sipped my coffee when dinner was over, I looked around at my family, my son and his wife, my two precious grandchildren, and my wife who worked so hard to make this meal possible. I realized I have so much to be thankful for. Sometimes the stars (and stripes) align and everything falls into place. Thanksgiving in July is now my new favorite annual family holiday tradition. Pass the gravy!

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