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Mom put our turkey dinner on a diet

An undated photo of Helen Fischetti, mother

An undated photo of Helen Fischetti, mother of reader Susan Marie Davniero. Credit: From Susan Marie Davniero

I heard my mother announce, “Thanksgiving dinner is served!”

My two sisters and I came downstairs from our bedroom for dinner.

I remember this Thanksgiving because it was the late 1960s, when I was a student at A.G. Berner High School in Massapequa.

My mother, Helen Fischetti, was promoted to assistant manager at a bank on Merrick Road and had to work the day after Thanksgiving, so she opted to have a quiet dinner at home with Dad, my sisters and me. No house full of relatives. Mom got her way because she did the cooking and most of the cleaning, although Dad helped a lot around the house.

I looked over the table dressed up for the holiday with a tablecloth, the good china trimmed with pink rosebuds and cut glassware. The family all dressed up, too, but the main dish, the turkey, didn’t seem as dressed up as the rest of us. In fact, it was just turkey breast of white meat, none of my favorite turkey legs or crispy skin basted in butter. As we looked disappointedly at the display, Mom said, “This is a Weight Watcher’s Thanksgiving!”

For this holiday, the whole family was drafted into Mom’s diet plan, even though none of us needed to lose weight. Mom wanted to look good for work and was almost at her goal weight. Given that white turkey meat was low in calories, it was the main course.

Mom adjusted the menu to replace oil, butter and fat with other ingredients. I don’t know how a busy working woman like Mom found the time to measure, weigh and buy the food for the diet plan, but she was adept at her work-life balance. And the plan was effective, as she regained her youthful shape. Food was still a happy place for her, but now in moderation.

That day, Dad said grace and we unfolded the cloth napkins on our laps as we were taught. We were still thankful for the food we were about to eat (mostly).

We served ourselves turkey, low-sugar cranberry sauce, unglazed carrots without marshmallows, green bean salad doused in apple vinegar, and baked sweet potatoes without butter. In fact, nothing dripped in butter or bathed in gravy. My plate was full of food, but not calories. Mom was excited when she proclaimed, “This meal is entirely within my points!”

I missed Mom’s special bread stuffing greased with onions, the brown sugar-glazed carrots with marshmallows, the lumpy gravy and, of course, the whole bird with all the parts, including the crispy skin basted in butter.

However, there was a blessing to the meal. We were all thankful the next day for not feeling like gluttons. With a Weight Watcher’s Thanksgiving, we could count our blessings — and our calories, too.

Reader Susan Marie Davniero lives in Lindenhurst.