Gobblehead Dad

Posted November 25, 2010 by jimhigley

My dad was all about efficiency.

When I’d come home from college for breaks, I remember him hanging outside the bathroom door while I took a shower so he could grab the towel from me within seconds of drying off. He usually had a load of laundry waiting and he couldn’t resist the idea of a fresh, fluffed towel ready for my next shower. The following day. The idea of used towels drying on a towel bar in the bathroom seemed to drive him nutty.

While I tended to be happy to lounge in my pajamas or sweats all day long, he was always showered and dressed – and quite dapper – within minutes of waking up. It was either that or he slept in his clothes. I’m not sure. What I do know is, no matter what time I would walk downstairs, I’d usually find him suited up for the day, drinking his third cup of black coffee, and well into his list of errands.

Thanksgiving brought out the most efficient DNA in my dad. After my mom died and he took on the role of chief cook and bottle-washer in our house, he started honing years of Thanksgiving Day dinner perfection. And, his efficiency eventually reached world-class levels.

He started discovering that he could make certain dishes a day or two before. Some (exclamation point!) even three. Vegetables, sweet potato casseroles, and – the best of all – do-ahead-mashed potatoes, all became part of Dad’s Thanksgiving celebration vernacular. And, because we had ample refrigerator space in our house, there was no end to the list of dishes he could prepare ahead of time and file away in one of our iceboxes.

Of course, he set the dinner table the day before. If he could have filled the water glasses with ice, he would have.

The pinnacle came one year when I called my dad on Thanksgiving around noon, Nebraska time.

“Hi, Dad. Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Hello, hello, hello. You caught me doing a bunch of dishes.”

“Wow, sounds like you’re going to eat early this year. What time’s dinner?”

“Oh, we’re done. We had Thanksgiving brunch. I made the turkey yesterday, got it all carved and then just warmed it up this morning. Now we don’t have to spend the entire day working!”

Of course,” I thought to myself. “You can get a head start on roasting those chestnuts for Christmas…”


Here I sit, many years later. It’s after ten a.m. I’m still in my pajamas. The kids are all asleep. Our Thanksgiving Day meal is many hours away.

But for a few minutes, I’m simply going to relish my memories of Thanksgivings from the past. I’m so grateful for my mom who was pulled from this world way too soon. I cherish having the dad I had because, in spite of (and probably because of) his many humorous traits, truly was the greatest man I’ve ever known. I’m blessed to have been the baby brother of four men whom I love like I love no one else.

And, more than anything, I’m grateful for my three kids. Sleeping soundly. With lives full of joy and health.

Happy Thanksgiving!