Thanksgiving morning - I had just turned 9 years old* 2 months prior:
My Father woke me and said he needed my help. My Mother had cut herself while attempting to unwrap the turkey. They were going to the hospital to get her stitched up.
Get cold cereal on the table and wake up my siblings. Supervise the meal and clean up after so the kitchen is ready to begin turkey day preparation. A more bickering bunch of little kids never existed…They refused to recognize my newly found status as temporary parent.
Parents arrived home, Mother went to bed since she was woozy from pain meds. I am to assist Dad with cooking the feast. I learned to chop, mix, measure, mash, stuff, blend, baste and more.
In the midst of this our indoor Burmese cat comes to the kitchen and begins a series of mournful howls followed by excited chirps. Eventually we investigate. The cat has begun his Thanksgiving feast early.
The gerbil funeral. A shoe box was made suitable for his final resting place. I furnished it with a little pillow I sewed, a cut bit of old towel and some vegetable bits. I swore never to speak to the murderous feline ever again. A hole was dug in the back yard, mourners assembled, words said, tears shed.
The meal. Everything seemed to come out just fine! I was tired but had learned the very important secret that the cooks get to nosh on all sorts of wonderful nibbles not available to mere diners.
The clean up. Discovered there is a talent for gauging the quantity of leftovers and choosing the appropriate container. I have repeatedly relearned that I am severely lacking in the ability. The trained engineer Father was not particularly pleased by this skipping of the mathematics gene.
By this point my Mother is hovering over us and giving instructions regarding the care of the sterling and fine china. I learned that I detest drying dishes.
Fifty years later this Thanksgiving is still referred to as the Shiva for the gerbil.
- The deceased had been my birthday gift.