My Captain wanted to share a ‘family’ meal with his shift to honor Thanksgiving, even though they were not slated to work on that day, so he scheduled a shift a few days before the holiday to hold an official Pre-Thanksgiving Shift Feast. Lt. Tom, Master Firefighter Johns, and I put together a menu, and I grocery shopped my fool head off.
I’m always happiest when I’m at the grocery store. I love nothing better than to be be-bopping down the aisles to poorly re-rendered ’80’s music as I gleefully toss food items into my squeaky, wobbly-wheeled cart. It’s the life I’ve chosen, and I’m good at it. Don’t judge.
Our menu: Slow Cooked Roast Beast, Au Gratin Potatoes (Cheesy enough to kill a horse), Creamed Spinach/Artichoke Casserole (because CREAMED is the way God intended any vegetable to be eaten), Orange Glazed Carrots, Sage Sausage Stuffed Roasted Mushrooms, Hot Autumn Fruit Compote over Ice Cream, and Peanut butter Pie. It was going to be fabulous.
The big day came, the Beasts were lovingly placed into two crockpots. The side dishes chilled in the fridge, already prepared and awaiting cooking. The men had their instructions for meal preparation. The firehouse dining table was laid with tablecloth, adorned with Autumn-hued flowers, and the special ‘turkey-themed’ napkins were laid out. And then…..
… the tones went off.
Montgomery County’s professional Trench Rescue Team was being dispatched
to aid a neighboring county’s volunteer rescue in their efforts to save a man trapped by a shale slough at a house construction site.
And then it would take time to pack it all up and go back to the station. Where they would then receive several more calls for various auto accidents and medical emergencies. They were in their element, doing what they do best, as much as their ability to support a different command would allow.
And dinner? That forgotten thing that, in the grand scheme of priorities, fell way, way, way down the ladder? Yeah, well….prolonged cooking time is not always kind to food.
The Roast Beast slow-cooked to the point where it fell apart.
The Potatoes and Spinach/Artichoke Casseroles were a bit dry. The Orange Glazed Carrots were mushy. The Sage-Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms were more like dehydrated pemmican. No one had time to buy vanilla Ice Cream, so they ate the hot Autumn Fruit Compote over ice cream flavors like Cookies and Cream (ugh!)
But the Peanut Butter Pie….it was as cold as it was supposed to be…flawlessly whipped-creamy, and sinfully delicious.
And so the meal, which was consumed by this band of tired, hungry heroes, who had spent the day collaborating in the service of strangers, may not have been perfectly executed, but it more than served its purpose. It brought them together for a moment of non-emergency-oriented brotherhood, to pause and be grateful for what they have, for being able to do what they do, and to reflect on life as they so singularly live it.
My Captain’s intention for having this special meal was to affirm and strengthen the shift as more than just a ‘Special Ops’ team, but as a family.
It wasn’t just about the food. It was also about solidarity. Unity. Fraternity.
But mostly it was about the Peanut Butter Pie.