My husband Steve and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our house for more than thirty years. Despite the fact that we have the logistics of holding such a feast down pat, it seems like every year there is something that does not go according to plan. One year the turkey was done too early, another year it took too long to cook. One year the oven broke the day before Thanksgiving and we had to replace the baking element. And then there was the year that Thanksgiving was almost ruined for my son Aaron, whose favorite part of the meal is the pumpkin pie.
That Thanksgiving morning Steve and I had gotten up at o’dark thirty and prepped and stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven to bake. Then we turned on the electric heaters in the sunroom and left the sliding glass door between that room and the rest of the house open because we would be eating dinner there later in the day and it has no other source of heat. Finally, we headed back to bed to grab a couple more hours of sleep knowing that we would awake to the aromatic smell of cooking turkey.
Instead, not too long after I had drifted off, I was awakened by Aaron who was shaking me by the shoulder. When I opened my eyes and looked at him he whispered, “Mom, Sam ate the pumpkin pie.”
“Sam ate the pumpkin pie, it’s all gone!”
Sam was our Saint Bernard and although he was certainly tall enough to eat anything he wanted off of a table or counter top, up until that point the only food he had ever nabbed was butter. That dog was a butter fiend. He’d walk by the table and tilt his head sideways and with one swipe of the tongue, lick a whole stick of butter right off of the butter dish and keep walking, all without breaking his stride. It was an art, really.
I got out of bed and as I followed a very distraught Aaron downstairs I said, “I don’t believe it. Sam wouldn’t do that. It couldn’t have been Sam.”
“Well, the pie is gone. Who else could have done it? Thanksgiving is ruined. Dumb dog.”
“Calm down, we’ll figure it out. It sounds more like something Jo would do,” I said.
Jo was our Cocker Spaniel. She would eat anything, anywhere, any time.
Known aliases: Sam, Sammy, Sama-rama-ding-dong
Known vices: Butter and belly rubs.
Known aliases: Jojo, Josephina, Jojo Dancer
Known vices: Balls and food – any kind of food.
Followed by both dogs, Aaron and I headed out to the sunroom where I had left the pies the night before. I walked over to the table where the pies were and the mince pie looked just as I had left it, which is to say fabulous, but the pumpkin pie was a mess; almost all of it was gone. There was a fist sized glob of pumpkin left in the very middle of the pie dish, all the rest of the pie, including all of the crust, was gone.
“See, I told you,” Aaron said, “He ate all of it!”
I picked up the almost empty pie dish and turned around and showed it to both dogs and asked, “Who did this?”
Sam took a step closer, tilted his head and smelled at the dish and looked up at me. It was clear from his behavior that he had never seen the pie dish until just that moment. Jo on the other hand, kept her seat on the floor and did not look at the pie dish, rather, she turned her head down and to the side. Winner, winner,
chicken dinner pumpkin pie dinner!
A quick look at the over all set-up of the room revealed my mistake. To make room for the tables we would be eating at later in the day, I had pushed our round patio table into the corner, right next to the sofa. Jo had climbed onto the sofa and from there, jumped onto the tabletop to get to the pie. She had probably felt like she won the doggy lotto. I reached down and picked her up. Her long, beautiful Cocker Spaniel ears were full of blobs of pumpkin – she needed a bath pronto.
As I carried her out to the kitchen sink, Aaron followed me, bellowing about how Jo had ruined Thanksgiving by eating the pie. I began washing Jo’s ears off under the tap and told Aaron to relax, that I would call Nana and ask her if she had an extra pumpkin pie that she could bring over.
“Mom, people don’t just have extra pumpkin pies sitting around!”
“I bet Nana does, I’ll call her later,” I said and as I finished washing Jo’s ears Aaron stomped off to pout.
Later rolled around and I called my mother-in-law who did in fact, have an extra pumpkin pie in her freezer and was only too happy to bring it along to dinner. Not only was Aaron amazed to learn that his Nana is always prepared, he was relieved that there would be pumpkin pie for dessert.
Happy Thanksgiving, I hope that you enjoy all the bounties of the season surrounded by the love of family and friends…and don’t forget to keep an eye on your pie!
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