My mom has always been an early riser, but she used to get up unusually early on Thanksgiving morning. She’d make the stuffing, including chopped giblets and roasted chestnuts. Then she’d stuff the turkey, season it, and pop it in the oven to roast all morning. I think it was usually cooking by 7AM, maybe even earlier. And it was a big one, too. Around Thanksgiving, when turkeys are steeply discounted, my mom and I would go to the grocery and rummage through the turkey bin until we found the biggest turkey they had. It was a monstrosity, weighing in at 24, 26, 28 pounds. We had turkey leftovers for days. And days. And days. I imagine it got to be rather exhausting, trying to figure out how to use up all those leftovers.
I used to follow suit and look for the biggest turkeys, too, but now, I seek out the smallest. Small is still pretty big; a 12-16 pound turkey feeds my rather large (by some standards) family for two meals. I don’t care overly much for leftover poultry myself, unless it gets turned into a casserole or a soup, but Thanksgiving II is pretty popular with everybody else. Also, a smaller turkey only takes three hours or so to roast. No need to wake too early!
(Hint: Delaney remarked about the reheated turkey, “This is so moist! I was expecting it to be dried out, but it isn’t. How did you do that?” My trick is that I brush it with mild olive oil before popping it into the oven. You don’t notice the olive flavor, but the extra fat, I guess, keeps the turkey moist, and it actually refreshes the flavor so that it doesn’t taste “old”. I discovered this accidentally many years ago.)
I did have to cancel Meatless Friday in order to get the turkey used up. The schedule – and the fridge space – did not permit having Thanksgiving II at any other time. I think we were allowed a free pass the Friday after Easter, though, and we didn’t take it, so I figure it’s okay.