Turkey-trauma sparkles with more than a special glaze

This column was originally published as part of my “From Where I Sit” series at in Towson Times.

I’d been planning the dinner for weeks.

My sister, Rachel, and her family had flown in for their annual holiday visit. I wanted to create a special meal for them that included family favorites and a few dishes with a new twist.

As a new Food Network junkie, I’d found the perfect kicked-up side dishes—a sweet potato casserole that included cinnamon roasted bananas and a risotto recipe that was actually barley-based with vegetables.

But, the star of the show was to be a maple-roasted, bacon-topped turkey. I’d watched Chef Tyler Florence’s Thanksgiving episode on the Food Network and was impressed with the combination of flavors, as well as the amazing presentation.

It was beautiful.

The recipe included a video with step-by-step instructions. I asked my daughter, her boyfriend, and my son to sit with me and watch the 4-minute, 37-second recording to see exactly how to prepare this festive bird.

We executed each step to perfection. With the side dishes complete, we set the table, including special wine glasses for the teens’ sparkling apple cider treat. After 4 hours and 35 minutes of basting, the turkey was done.

My daughter’s boyfriend, Brian, carefully placed it on the table.

It was simply stunning. I just had to take a picture.

“It’s awesome, Sissy!” Rachel exclaimed.

“Wow, Aunt Becky! You outdid yourself,” her daughter added.

Then, all 6 feet of my nephew, Adam, grabbed his glass, thrust it in the air and bellowed, “Cheers everyone!”

And the unthinkable happened.

Beneath his thundering voice, there must have been a faint crashing sound. But at the time, our first clue of the disaster was Adam’s bewildered face as he slowly lowered his hand, now holding only the stem of the glass.

“Uh-oh,” he whispered.

“Adam, what happened?” I stammered as I rolled my wheelchair closer to the table.

“Watch out!” Brian said. “Glass is everywhere.”

Everyone froze as we realized what had happened. Adam’s exuberant toast had crashed into the low beam of my vaulted ceiling, shattering his glass into hundreds of slivers.

Adam was unhurt, but my prize turkey now glistened with more than a maple glaze.

It was covered in glass.

My mind joined my paralyzed legs as the shock shut it down.

“I’m so sorry, Aunt Becky,” Adam said.

“It’s OK, Adam,” I managed to reply, trying to absorb the scene.

My family quietly began the clean up of the blanket of glass while the turkey sparkled in all its glory.

“Maybe we can clean it off,” someone suggested.

But a closer look revealed embedded glass. I postponed the inevitable, sending the wounded bird to the top of my washing machine while we pulled out lunchmeat trays I had prepared for the next meal. At least the side dishes were safely in the kitchen.

Somberly, we began our hodgepodge dinner.

“Someday, we’ll laugh about this,” someone said. I nodded and smiled, knowing it would not be that day.

“At least I got a picture of it!” I eventually offered as we resumed a more upbeat mood.

But after dessert, we wandered back to the laundry room and gave that glorious bird one last look before we bid it farewell to the trash can.

I haven’t looked at that turkey recipe since that day — until now. Maybe it’s time to try that recipe one more time.

And make sure Adam has a plastic glass.

Happy New Year! May this year’s family gatherings be exuberant, turkey trimmings remain edible, and meals sparkle only with love.


  1. virginia mc clure says

    Dear Becky, Your awesome book has been in my care since we met at the writers’ presentation, cockeysville library. Since I’m woefully inept at computer navigation, I could send only mental messages to you. Am getting some coaching now so I can officially thank you for the many things you do and the high bar you set. My memoir on Africa is well on its way and I’m hoping to connect with a group soon. Not sure which is more satisfying–, the actual writing or the learning. Blessings, Ginny