Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

I woke on Thanksgiving Day at 4am with a terrible sense of things all gone wrong.  I was in my mother’s home and she was in a nursing home.  We had arrived last night after 15 hours on the road and had been just too tired to make sense of much.  The boxes of ingredients for the Thanksgiving dinner had been left helter skelter, refrigerated if essential, but otherwise just on tables and counters and the floor.

I came downstairs with leaden steps, almost unable to face the beginning of this momentous day.  But coffee addiction does force me to do the unimaginable.


I stumbled into the kitchen and found that Christmas had arrived early or that elves had decided to favor me with their talents.  All the boxes were gone.  The counters and tables were set up like a restaurant kitchen.  I opened the refrigerator to find gallon plastic lock bags of perfectly chopped onions, celery and herbs. The slices of day old bread for our family stuffing recipe had already been lightly toasted and welcomed me with broad white grins.

I sat down in a familiar kitchen chair and began to weep.  My sons, Ashley and Baxter, now grown men and on a brief break from law and medical schools, had travelled on this holiday from New York to Nashville with my daughter in law, Eileen, to be part of this gift of a Thanksgiving dinner for Mommie, now that she could no longer produce the magic on her own.  They had arrived from their long drive from the airport certainly after 10pm.  It must have taken them hours to do this set up for a day of intense cooking.

Suddenly I felt as if I could really do this.  My sons are passionate about food and cooking.  And, they were clearly in this game with all that they had.  I no longer felt as though the day would be exhausting and overwhelming.  Then the Mommie tape in my head turned on and the audio was just perfect…. …better than Julia Child and Martha Steward or Rachel Ray.  The voice was reassuring and the tone was optimistic and calm. “Patty, just get started with the cornbread and put the giblets on the stovetop to cook. You know they need to cook slowly with celery, carrots, shallots and herbs so the stock will flavor the stuffing.  The boys know some of this but you have the secret.  It is your turn to pass on the secret of our family stuffing to them today.

Patricia Yarberry-Allen

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