Everything was done -- and everyone was sitting around waiting for the main event.
My father, who was in charge of turkey carving, conscripted me to assist him, and off we went. We grabbed huge oven mitts, peered in the oven one last time and smiled because the bird was picture perfect.
I opened the oven door and Papi grabbed the oven rack, gave it a gentle tug.
To this day I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but in that nanosecond during which the rack was moving, the turkey flew off the pan and straight out of the oven.
Whump! The turkey was on the floor. The eagle had landed, big time.
Papi's eyebrows shot up towards the ceiling. "Don't tell your mother!" he hissed, and grabbed the slithery bird with the oven mitts, plopping it onto the carving dish.
Several voices came from the other room -- and loudest was my mother's plaintive, "What happened?"
I yelled out, "Nothing!" while Papi busied himself propping up the beast, which had flattened quite a bit. I grabbed towels and cleaned the evidence from the kitchen floor.
"I won't tell her, I promise, I won't tell her," I said over and over, doing my level best to keep a straight face. At this point Papi brought out the electric knife which neatly covered up my occasional snorts and muffled laughter. The bird looked like it had been de-boned.
However, nobody was wiser that day, anyway.
Years later my mother and I were reminiscing about my late father and I finally told her the story.
"I knew something happened as soon as I heard that noise," she laughed, Apparently, later on she had found a piece of the bird somewhere in the line of flight. "I never told your father, but I was wondering how long it would take anyone to say something to me."
I was stunned. She was nonplussed. "The turkey tasted great," she smirked.
Amen, and pass the cranberry sauce.