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November 26, 2003
Doesn't it get too salty? I asked. An eMo recipient soaks her turkey overnight in a brine of kosher salt and water.

No, somehow it doesn't, she writes back. Actually, you don't use that much salt, only a cup, in a lot of water. I do mine in a black garbage bag, since I don't have a pot that large.

I fry mine,
a man tells Q at the store. Forty-five minutes, that's all it takes. The skin is nice and crisp and the inside is moist like you wouldn't believe.

Then there's the Turducken. The chef at Anna's restaurant -- Delta, at 9th Avenue and 48th Street -- makes it: you bone a chicken, a duck and a turkey. You stuff each bird lightly with a different stuffing. Then you put the duck inside the chicken and the chicken inside the turkey. When it's done, you slice through and you get three strata, plus stuffing. Turducken.

Anna has her own plan for our turkey, which was pretty wonderful last year, so why not do it again? You mix 6 tablespoons of butter (room temperature) with 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary. Lift the skin over the turkey breast and, bit by bit, poke the butter mixture in between the skin and the breast. Sew it closed. It's lovely. A little rich, but that's why there's 911.

The people of St. Clement's have been baking turkeys and bringing them in for a couple for days now. The food pantry is experiencing its heaviest demand ever, way out of line with past experience -- 760 people last week, PJ says. We can't go on like this. I'm going to have to go to the press and get some help.

Will all 760 come to the Thanksgiving dinner tonight? Will there be enough food? Will there be enough volunteers? I believe there will be, for the little church in Hell's Kitchen struggles bravely to serve the poor and God honors that struggle. Somebody will walk in with pies just when they run out of pies. Somebody will send over a case of apples. Somebody will walk in with a check. I miss them more the day before Thanksgiving than on any other day. What an honor it was to lead such a servant community. Not perfect, St. Clement's, but pretty amazing.

Your dinner will be like that, too. It will be wonderful. The faces around the table will be dear ones -- dear, annoying, tugging at your heart in all kinds of ways. Enjoy them, in all their compromised glory. There will come a time when you will see them no more. Let that thought balance the annoyance.

And, if you are spending the day alone, make it wonderful. Let there be music, and a walk outside. Volunteer somewhere that serves people less fortunate than yourself. Although you might not have chosen your solitariness this Thanksgiving, there is nonetheless a gift hidden within it. You have time to listen for the voice of God. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, not National Complaining Day. You already know what's wrong with your life. Spend some time tomorrow making a list of what's right. Be creative. It may be a longer list than you think.


St. Clement's is at 423 West 46th Street, NYC 10036, between 9th and 10th Avenues. The food pantry needs non-perishable food, the kids in the AfterSchool Program need toys and warm jackets for Christmas and the dinner needs volunteers. Call them at 212-246-7277.
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