The week of Thanksgiving in 1997, Keith had an emergency appendectomy, his appendix ruptured, and he got peritonitis. His recovery was slow and longer than usual, so the looming question was – do we cancel Thanksgiving? Keith was an amazing Chef, and he was, in fact, the only one who could cook in the house! In 1989, after I cooked my first ever meal for him, (we were already married 18 months) he had threatened to put crime scene tape around the kitchen after our new puppy would not even touch it! That was perfectly fine with me, it was a beautiful arrangement, he cooked – I did the dishes.
While he was recovering, you can imagine we were in a little panic. Were we going to have to cancel Thanksgiving Dinner, our absolute favorite holiday, when Keith could not get off the couch? I told him, we can still do this, you can talk me through it, and with the help of Justin, my bonus son, we will have Thanksgiving. Justin was 16 and had firsthand knowledge of food, after working with his father on catering events, he was more prepared than I was to help make this glorious meal! It would truly be a bonding experience for both of us!
The day before, we prepped all the food, even Kellie, who was only 5 at the time, was cleaning vegetables and setting the table! Then the day of truth, the Jaret household was a buzz of screaming and yelling, “You’re not doing it right” to, “damn I burned the carrots.” Keith who was laying on the couch listening, he smiled and said, “this is music to my ears”! He really had a difficult time moving, so each time we needed him to check the turkey, we would bring it to him! We would carry it from the kitchen to the living room, Justin holding one side me the other. Keith would touch it and tell us if it needed more time – or if it was perfect (he never needed a thermometer – he had the touch). We probably carried it back and forth about 6 or 7 times, and we were thrilled when he finally gave a thumbs up and said it was perfect!
A big tradition in our home (well for Keith only), at 12:00, the radio played Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant! In all the years of living with this man, I never understood the thrill of Alice’s Restaurant, but even this particular year when he was NOT the chef, we all had to listen to it!
When my brother Sean heard that we were still having Thanksgiving Dinner and that I was cooking it, he said, well if Maureen is making dinner, then I will make pies (he never made pies before)!
The moment of truth came when we finally sat down for dinner, the meal was amazing! We laughed and ate and had a truly wonderful time! It was the first and only time that Keith did not make the dinner. Truth be told, Justin was truly the hero in this, he had a more understanding of how to do this, he stepped up to the plate and it was wonderful! Sean’s pies were amazing too! Keith always said that it was his all-time favorite Thanksgiving, watching his son and wife bond in the kitchen, he said it was the best meal he ever ate!
This year is my first holiday without him, and I realize I will never again have a Thanksgiving meal, that Keith prepared. I will learn to love the holiday again, I hope! But someone will still have to make the dinner! I am getting ready to listen to Arlo singing Alice’s Restaurant and bask in the wonderful memories that I have! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, I am grateful for all of your love and support!