My mom never meant to annoy my sister and me. But on a lengthy succession of holidays, she would arrive at one or another of our homes, immediately go to the kitchen and place her hand on the stove.
"Did you turn the oven on?" she would ask, as the turkey, the ham or the standing rib roast worked its way toward the festive table.
"Yes, Ma," I would respond, on the edge of impatience. My sister showed equal frustration when confronted with the question in her home on many occasions. Now we laugh about it.
This is our sixth holiday season without my mom. She and her "helpful" question about the oven are missed dearly. My guess is that she always asked because on one Thanksgiving Day many, many years ago, she put a big, stuffed bird into the oven without firing it up.
If so, we never knew. It would have been a rare miscue for this woman whose first-rate cooking skills remain an inspiration to me to this day.
Oh, and yes, Ma, the oven was on for the turkey I put in Thursday for our Thanksgiving Day feast. Thanks for asking.
(Photo of my mom, Ofelia Islas Chihak, c. 1980.)