My head pounded as I stared at the destruction that laid in front of me. The smoke and smell of burning flesh made tears start to well up in my eyes. The fire alarm was screeching.

“Oh, wow.” The sound of my husband entering our kitchen was the final straw, the tears started to fall.

“I don’t know what happened!” I sobbed, “The turkey caught on fire! Everyone is supposed to be here in a few hours, but everything is destroyed!”

“Take a deep breath.” Cole advised, as he wrapped his arm around me and surveyed the mess. “We have time. We can fix this.”

I stared at the remains of our Thanksgiving dinner. This was the first time I was supposed to be making dinner for our family. Of course, I screwed it up. What was I thinking? Cole’s mother already didn’t like me and messing up this holiday is not going to help that situation.

“I don’t see how.” I laid my head on his shoulder. “The turkey is in cinders. The baked potatoes look like coal. The broccoli is on the floor. Oh, and the pumpkin pie was stepped on by the cat."

Cole grinned down at me and kissed my forehead. “Together we can do anything, Vi!” He then pulled away from me and grabbed the screaming fire alarm. He quickly removed the battery, and blissful silence followed. Then, he turned his head toward the living room, “Millie! Come here!”

Millie, Cole’s twin sister, came in answer to his call. With a whistle, she surveyed the disaster that was once my kitchen.

“Well, Vivian.” She mused, “I can see what you mean now by not getting along with your kitchen.”

I hung my head out of embarrassment. “I thought for sure I could do this.”

“Ok, brother, what do you need me to do?” Millie asked Cole “We have a few hours until Mom gets here. We can fix this and she will never need to know.” 

“Help Vi clean the kitchen? I am going to go out and find replacement food.” Cole’s grey eyes glinted with determination. “There has to be someplace that is open.”


“Come on, Vi!” Mille grinned at me, “Let’s get this all cleaned up and set up a beautiful holiday table!”

I followed Cole to the door, “How are you going to get any replacement food? It’s Thanksgiving! Everything is closed.”

“Let me worry about that, Vi. You concentrate on getting everything cleaned up and ready to cook again for when I get back.” He kissed me gently, “Don’t fret so much, love. One way or another everything will be ok. I love you, being a bad chef and all.” With that he was gone.

I took a deep breath and turned to face what remains of my kitchen. Millie had already opened the window in an attempt to get all the smoke out of the room. She then turned to my old, fat tomcat; Wally.

“You have been a bad boy, hmmm?” She cooed as she lifted him, and started up the stairs with him “Stepping in the pie! You get locked up in the bedroom for that, Mr. Wally!”

I turned to face the rest of the kitchen. I had no idea where to start. The sink full of dirty dishes that I generated in my first attempt? Perhaps the pans that are on the floor that the cat knocked over? Or the burned roaster pan with the remains of my destroyed turkey? All I wanted to do was pour a large glass of wine and curl up to cry. I felt my tears start to well up again as I stared at the kitchen. Before they could start to fall, I felt Millie wrap her arm around me.

“None of that, Vi. Together, we will clean this and that brother of mine will bring home new food for us to eat. It is only noon. We have hours until the rest of the guests arrive.” Without waiting for me to reply, she darted out to the porch and brought in a large trash can. “Ok, chicky, all food that looks like it lost a battle with a dragon goes into the trash.”

Her hyperness made me smile, maybe they were right, maybe we could fix this. I grabbed the baked potatoes from where they laid on the counter and threw them into the trash can. Millie was lifting the charred turkey and throwing it in as well. In short order, we had all the wrecked food in the trash.

“Now for the dishes!” Millie grabbed a sponge. “I wash and you dry!” She pounced on the dishes and got started cleaning that mess. 

While I waited to have some dishes to dry, I grabbed some candles and lit them. I really hoped that would get rid of the last of the smoky stink. All the cleaning in the world wouldn’t matter if she could smell my mistake as soon as she entered my home. I was setting the candles around the house when my cell phone rang. Crap, it was Cole’s mother.

“Hello, Mrs. Donnelly!” I greeted her when I picked up the phone, trying to keep the nervousness out of my voice.

“Vivian.” Shit, I could feel the ice coming off her through the phone. “We will be arriving at your home within the hour.”

“The..the hour?” I stammered. “I didn’t think you would be getting here until 5.”

“We got an earlier flight.” No, no, no. This couldn’t be happening. “I hope that is not an issue.”

“Not at all, Mrs. Donnelly.” Hopefully, that lie wasn’t as obvious as it seemed. “I will see you when you get here.” I hung up the phone with her.

“Shit. Shit. Shit!” I banged my head on the wall.

“What’s up?” Millie called from the kitchen. 

“Your parents will be here in an hour.” 

“Well, that’s a monkey wrench.” She mused exiting the kitchen, drying her hands. “You dry this batch and I’ll let Cole know. Take a deep breath. One way or another, everything will be ok.”

I grabbed the towel from here and went to the dishes trying not to let my tears ecape. How could everything be ok? They will be here in less than an hour, and I have zero, zip, and no food ready. Even if Cole finds replacement food, how can I get anything done? 

I was drying the last dish when Millie came back into the kitchen. 

“I have good news and bad news.” She looked at me, her grey eyes uncertain.

“Lay it on me.” How could there possibly be more bad news?

“Cole is 30 min away, but he has a fresh turkey.” Millie grabbed her sponge. “And I called my dad, they will be here in 30 min.”

This is it. Mrs. Donnelly will hate me forever. I destroyed Thanksgiving. Millie didn’t have much to say as she washed the last of the dishes. Her enthusiasm for the duty seemed to have bled out of her. I dried the wet dishes, with my brain on autopilot. What else could I do? I had no food and no time. It seemed like only moments had passed when I heard the sound of not one but two cars pulling into our driveway. I took a deep breath. Time to face the ice queen. 

I went to the door, there I saw Cole grabbing grocery bags out of our car. His dad was helping him and his mother was standing there staring at them. The whole group was soon at the door. 

“Mr. Donnelly! Mrs. Donnelly!” I forced a smile. “How was your flight?”

“How many times have I told you to call me Ted?” His dad greeted me with a bear hug. 

“What is going on here?” His mother asked, her arms crossed. “I don’t smell any turkey.”

I tried to keep my head up, I didn’t know what to say. “There was a slight...accident with the turkey.”

“Yeah, it caught on fire.” Millie chimed in as she came out of the kitchen. 

I glared at my sister-in-law out of the corner on my eye. Why did she have to say that!

Mrs. Donnelly was staring at me down the bridge of her nose. And then slowly, to my shock, started to laugh. Mr. Donnelly was right with her in her laughing.

“Oh, Rita, isn’t that a blast from the past?” Ted was grinning at his wife.

“Oh, Vivian” Mrs. Donnelly was whipping tears off her face. “I did the same thing my first time cooking Thanksgiving. Why did you think I got an earlier flight? I was so worried that you would need help! Now, I see you have gotten replacement groceries. Better than my mess-up on Thanksgiving.

Ted snorted “Yeah, we had pizza for our first Thanksgiving. “

Mrs. Donnelly swatted her husband’s arm, “Oh you. Now, go get the roaster from the car.”

“Mrs. Donnelly?” I started quietly, trying to wrap my brain around what was happening.

“Rita, please!” She smiled at me, “Now I brought supplies. We are going to save this dinner and the rest of the family will never have to know. “

To my shock, she gave me a warm hug, before heading into the kitchen. She was barking orders at her children and husband. They were all falling in line to save this Thanksgiving. Rita poked her head out of the kitchen.

“Are you coming, Vivian?” She gestured with an old book in her hand, “I have so many family recipes that I want to teach you!”

I was once again trying to hold back tears as I followed her into the kitchen. Mrs. Donnelly…er…Rita didn’t hate me. Even better she is going to help me fix this mess!

Rita gave me another warm smile as I entered the kitchen. “Now, Vivian, are you ready to learn how to cook our family recipes? Millie never cared to learn. You are my only hope to pass them on.”

The next few hours were a blur of activity. Soon enough the whole house smelled of turkey and other yummy food. Once again I found myself fighting back tears. The house was full of family and love. It seems this holiday wasn’t destroyed after all.

November 29, 2019 18:21

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