I sat visiting with Gabriela the evening before Thanksgiving in the day room. She was eating dinner which always arrived with an extra cup of coffee for me. I was preoccupied with the thought of how we would be able to celebrate the upcoming holiday with all the restrictions of the ward.
How was I going to bring in Gabriela’s favorite Thanksgiving foods without breaking any rules … or at least having the appearance that I hadn’t broken any?
All food brought into the ward by visitors had to be in manufacturers’ packaging. My idea was to use Trader Joe’s plastic heat and serve meal containers because they slide into outer cardboard sleeves which would be easier to disguise and still be large enough to hold the entire meal.
The first stop I made after visiting hours were over was Trader Joe’s. I purchased several items that came in heat and serve containers; bread stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, yams. I also picked up a turkey breast which I would cook.
I knew I didn’t have time to make from scratch a full Thanksgiving dinner, package it, and have it ready to go by tomorrow’s visiting hours so while I cooked the turkey breast I carefully prepared the plastic containers by removing them from their cardboard sleeve then putting the contents into separate bowls.
I cleaned two containers and filled each one with mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, and topped them with slices of turkey breast. I also filled small containers with cranberry sauce that I could place in the containers before I finished packaging the food.
In the morning I heated the containers I had prepared the evening before then wrapped each with plastic wrap. I sealed the wrap by placing a hot pan against the wrap to melt the plastic slightly and placed each container back into the cardboard sleeves. I had also purchased individual chocolate pecan pies from Bristol farms the prior evening and now I placed them on top of the hot dinners to warm during the drive to Huntington.
Everything went into a brown shopping bag and I waltzed into Ward 400 with “stealth” full Thanksgiving dinners in hand and didn’t have a hint of a problem even after the client assistant inspected the contents.
When I sat down with Gabriela in the day room and pulled out the food I had brought, her eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas.