No new Isabella Bird installments today and tomorrow. My brain has left the building.
But! I do want to share this story from my personal past as we head into this weird Thanksgiving.
Here's what you need to know before I tell you about our first Thanksgiving in Texas, which would have been in 1993. We were fresh out of college in PA and had lived in Austin for just a couple of months. I was working for a knock-off Crate and Barrel wannabee; Scott was in grad school at UT.
My previous Thanksgivings revolved around working. In high school, I worked at the Waldenbooks at the mall. In college, I stayed on campus because we annually loaded in Nutcracker on Friday. (Related: Nutcracker (and A Christmas Carol) are two shows I need never see again.) A faculty member would invite us over to their place for the holiday each year.
So for most of my life, someone else dealt with cooking and my only job was to show up. Which is likely how it is for most people in their early 20s. It's how we expected that first Austin Thanksgiving to go. We were waaaaaay too broke to travel back east and planned to go to a distant relative's place for the meal.
Only that was the year that Austin had an out-of-character ice storm, one that turned the entire city into a skating rink. Texans, btw, can't drive in rain. You don't want to see the chaos that happens with winter precipitation. I think they were fishing cars out of the Colorado River (aka Town Lake) for a few years after.
Sensibly, we canceled our plans and had just enough time to scoot out to the Fiesta for a turkey and whatever fixins we could find, which included homemade tortillas because of course.
"The only turkey we could find" was easily 20 pounds and still frozen solid. We spent most of the holiday watching football and news footage of the aforementioned car-related shenanigans. Oh - and routinely refilling the tub with warm water because the turkey was too large to fit into our kitchen sink because our apartment was sized for hobbits. If memory serves, a hairdryer might also have been involved but I could be making that up.
We finally got the bird thawed enough to stick in the oven (and we had to bend its limbs nearly backward to get it to fit in our wee oven) by 8 p.m. and ate it in the wee hours. I can't imagine it was tasty but do remember that it was lunch and dinner for a week or two.
Clearly, I also remember it as a time when we had to bend what we expected from a holiday and learned how to make do and embraced the challenge with the best attitude we could muster. Which isn't to say that there wasn't a moment or two when I wept and cursed thermodynamics because I was starving and had no holiday meal. But I also knew that as far as big deals go, this wasn't one. Plus, we had tortillas and had splurged on Shiner Bock.
Over the intervening years, our cooking skills have greatly improved. We're also the ones who can now invite stranded students over for the big meal and load 'em up with leftovers. Such is the great circle of life. And this weird time we're in will cycle out soon enough.
Stay well out there, y'all. Happy Thanksgiving.