The turkey. I used to always go to my local butchers, owned by Molloy brothers although the name of the butcher is Hayes….see previous posts for how this is common. On our second Thanksgiving I went in the week before to order my turkey. The thing is, the Molloy brothers only sell Irish turkeys and none of the turkeys named O'Grady, Butler or Ahern were fat enough yet. They still had a few weeks to enjoy life before sitting on Christmas tables all over Co. Wicklow.
It was this that sent me to the grocery store to find a fresh turkey, which I suppose came from the UK or somewhere and was not as fat as the Irish Christmas yokes. I got my bird in the end and it was fine if not Irish. The real problem was the ham. And it continues to be a problem for me still. They don't have beautiful spiral sliced HEB cooked hams with their pouch of glaze here. I love those hams. They are my favorite part of the Thanksgiving table and are perfect with green rice (broccoli-cheese rice), sweet potatoes, and ambrosia. I'm not a big fan of turkey so these things are Thanksgiving to me.
Before anyone says, 'wait, we have lovely hams and bacon here' I must tell you that yes, you do but they are just not the same. I don't like having to boil my ham, drain the water, wrap it in foil, cook it in the oven, apply the glaze halfway through and then finish cooking. It isn't spiral cut and it isn't what I think of as a ham.
We stayed here that second year and celebrated the day on Saturday rather than Thursday which has become our custom. Thanksgiving Thursday might be my loneliest day in Ireland. No one knows it's meant to be a special day…it's just a regular old Thursday. The kids go to school, Paul goes to work, I buy up all the potatoes, cream of mushroom soup, canned green beans, and cranberry sauce and no one seems to notice. Saturday is the day we feast. And by feast, I mean we sit at the table for 20 minutes and say what we're thankful for and then go back to watching football and Christmas movies.
It's more the day, the preparations, the atmosphere of celebration and rituals that make Thanksgiving so great. And we have been able to recreate that here on the Saturday after thanks to care packages with cornbread mix, French's fried onions, canned pumpkin, and Cheez-Whiz. We do miss you all, knowing that you're at the mall, going to the movies, and eating turkey, cranberry, and dressing sandwiches on white bread while you watch college football.