Kara’s house was full of warmth and people. The carpet had paths connecting the living room, den and dining room with a trail of footprints from ages of shoes tracking through. From the entryway a pile of work boots and children’s snow boots spilled haphazardly into the path. As people walked through they had to step carefully to avoid boots and wet melted snowy patches.
Kara’s nieces and nephews trampled through on safaris, on boats to avoid lava flows, and on train cars made of dining room chairs. The noise was welcome in her normally quiet, sometimes lonely house she shared with Jim. Kara took the turkey from the oven to rest and her sister, Sam whisked flour and water into the drippings pan on the stove for gravy. Each year there was either too much salt in the gravy, not enough salt, or a few too many lumps, but Sam whisked it every year and Kara was glad for it.
Sipping her glass of wine, Kara gazed into the living room where Jim and Sam’s husband Mike sat in arm chairs watching football. Their mom and dad sat on the sofa, steaming mugs of coffee in their fists. Nieces and nephews rolled on the carpet. A little bit of sadness mixed with gratitude in Kara’s heart. In all the years she and Jim have tried, no little babies have come to warm the rooms of their home. At least she had these little feet and fingers crawling through her home today.
In past years the turkey has been overdone. It’s been dry. It’s been overly brined and too salty to enjoy. There have been years when Thanksgiving was just a table full of side dishes. A lonesome turkey resting on the kitchen counter, so undercooked it was unsafe to eat. Kara smiled at Sam, sipped her wine again and put the meat thermometer into the thigh. It read 165. Clear juices dripped out onto the serving platter. Thank goodness, Kara thought. “Jim! Come carve the turkey!”