Sunday, November 22, 2009


When Father Carves the Duck

We all look on with anxious eyes
When father carves the duck,
And mother almost always sighs
When father carves the duck;

Then all of us prepare to rise,
And hold our bibs before our eyes,
And be prepared for some surprise,
When father carves the duck.

He braces up and grabs a fork
Whene'er he carves a duck,
And won't allow a soul to talk
Until he's carved the duck.

The fork is jabbed into the sides,
Across the breast the knife he slides,
While every careful person hides
From flying chips of duck.

The platter's always sure to slip
When father carves a duck,
And how it makes the dishes skip!
Potatoes fly amuck!

The squash and cabbage leap in space,
We get some gravy in our face,
And father mutters a Hindoo grace
Whene'er he carves a duck.

We then have learned to walk around
The dining room and pluck
From off the window-sills and walls
Our share of father's duck.

While father growls and blows and jaws
And swears the knife was full of flaws,
And mother laughs at him because
He couldn't carve a duck.

Ernest Vincent Wright
from one of Google Books

My father never carved the duck, nor the turkey. He just wasn't a carver. His older brother, my Uncle Bill, was the family carver. Uncle Bill started teaching me to carve after I was out of college - I think he knew it was time to pass the torch. We always used an electric knife, although I have read that isn't the best way to carve the bird. I would wear a bib-style apron while Uncle Bill's tied around his ample waist. Uncle Bill would carve all the 'obvious' meat off the bird and display it on serving platters. The platters would be passed around the dinner table, followed by mash potatoes, dressing, yams, green beans, and LOTS of gravy. 

After dinner, while the rest of our family retired to the family room and football games, Uncle Bill and I would return to the kitchen table to pick the carcass clean. Foil packets of meat were made for grandma, for guests, for cousins. Finally all that was left was a pile of bones and the 'inners' that Gramms would have us save. 

Gramms, Uncle Bill and my dad have all passed away. I am now the turkey carver... My family doesn't gather for the day of thanks anymore. E. and I have our 'familyless' friends over for our feast. Most years we have 12-15 friends gather at the table(s). We now put up two long tables in the game-room and cover them with plastic table covers from the Dollar Store. We set the plates, silverware and napkins on the table long before friends start showing up. Two years we had two turkeys. One year we ended up with 14 pies... it was great!

This year will be quieter. We will still have friends without families, and still have tables set in the game-room. The electric knife will make its annual appearance. And I will put on a bibbed-apron. I will think of Uncle Bill, of  Gramms, of my dad. And of the poem of a father who carved a duck. I think I am most thankful that my dad NEVER attempted that!


Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA said...

I just went and tried to buy a turkey today. I gave up and went to Costco and bought pre-stuffed breasts.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Novel idea - why do I never think of this? But then the electric knife would never get its annual workout. Happy Thanksgiving soon, Christy!

Tash said...

We still gather with family and it'll be a lot of fun, there will be 16 this year, but I miss those that are no longer here esp. my mother-in-law. That's a very fun poem - well done lead in.
Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving - and happy carving.

altadenahiker said...

First the Heidi dress and now electric knives. I've only ever seen one person use an electric knife and that was my father, and only on state occassions. And I'm pretty sure the only reason he used it was because his kids had given it to him as a christmas present.

I want a picture of your feast. 15 people? Mama Mia.

Laurie said...

I remember a really fun Thanksgiving the year I first moved to LA. I was 23 and too broke to fly back home to see my family. My roommate and I invited all of our familyless friends over for potluck -- and we ended up with about 25 people and enough food to feed the original American settlers. Half of our friends were musicians who had their guitars and drumsticks with them so the day turned into a massive jam session/eat-a-thon. Oh, and did I mention all the wine? Wheee!

Brenda's Arizona said...

Tash, 16 is even MORE fun!

Karin, are you sure you don't have a twin - me? I hope so!

Laurie, what fun to have your 'own' band show up in the feasters. Drum sticks, guitars and wine - a feast of food and rhythmic fun.