Saturday 24 December 2016

Memories of Turkey Dinners

We are having steak this year.  It's a huge treat, DH doesn't like turkey, bear isn't bothered by turkey but loves the idea of steak and I don't really have the respect for turkey for Christmas dinner that I should.

My parents divorced when I was young, and it was unheard of in the small(ish) town I grew up in in the 1970s and early 1980s.  I was the only one in the school who had divorced parents.  It wasn't very amicable either.  However they made an effort at Christmas.  Father used to come to our house for Christmas dinner.  His Christmas bonus was vouchers for the local supermarket which he gave to mother to buy our Christmas dinner - except the turkey.

Father's cousins raised turkeys.  I can almost hear the conversation, 'We can't give our kid a small turkey.  We've got to give him something decent.  Put that one back, we'll give him something that's worth eating.'  Every year my mother would ask for a smaller turkey.  Every year we got a giant mutant.  The biggest one was 23lb or around ten and a half kilos.  Turkey should cook for 20 minutes a pound and twenty minutes over, or, in this case, eight hours.  Mother was supposed to put the turkey in at 5am.  It wouldn't fit in her small electric oven, she had to take all the shelves out, grease the sides and line the floor of the oven with foil.

Father always promised he would get to our house at a decent time.  He always ended up staying for after hours drinking at the club.  He always rolled in far too late and mother would be unimpressed waiting up for him as she had to be up at daft o'clock to wrestle with the turkey.

So when we came downstairs we would find father feeling fragile and mother feeling stressed and tired.  Every year mother would complain bitterly about the (free) turkey.   We didn't have a freezer and so vast amounts of turkey went to waste as mother wouldn't keep it more than three days.  In those three days we ate TURKEY.  My mother made the most amazing turkey scouse on the third day.  I've never managed to get it right.  Scouse is supposed to be a Liverpool dish, and it's really a poor man's dish - whatever meat is available plus whatever veggies or 'pot herbs' you could scrape together.  To my mind, the quality of the scouse depends on the potatoes.  They should be lovely and floury and disintegrating.  Mother's turkey scouse was my favourite dish of the year.  I've never managed to copy it.

So I'm happy to eat turkey at all sorts of times, but I prefer not to have it at Christmas.  I'm also not looking forward to the sprouts but as bear and DH adore them I shall have a token sprout on my plate and shovel the rest onto theirs.

AND I'm really looking forward to Christmas.  It doesn't matter what's on the plate.  It's the love that's sitting round the table.  I can remember the arguments and the grumbles, but I can also remember two people doing their frail best to get things right for their kids.  That's more important than turkey.


  1. (((HUGS))) Enjoy your steak dinner. As you say, it is the love that counts. Have a very happy Christmas with your loved ones. Best wishes to you, your husband, and Bear.

  2. Wonderful post! We don't have Turkey either. Of course over here Thanksgiving has only been late November and no one wants turkey anymore. We have a fantastic buffet - hot and cold foods - over at MILs. This started the year my daughter was born. We were all sick over Christmas so we cancelled it. We had it the next weekend with a buffet. My MIL enjoyed it so much more as we weren't in the kitchen slaving away but could enjoy the kids faces, opening and playing with their presents.

    As you said - it's the love sitting around the table. We generally have a really good time and eat too much!

    Happy Christmas to you and your family. Hope you have a great one!

  3. I'm veggi so turkey doesn't feature on my plate, but my mom still cooks one every year for the entire family. This year I watched a getting frail woman feeling the pressure of doing it and I really felt for her. But she did everyone proud and when she sat down to eat, she was quietly pleased she'd done it. My dad was quietly proud of her.

  4. We did have turkey for lunch, but my daughter bought steak for my L&M as his Christmas present