Our Thanksgiving celebration began a little later than usual, when I slept through my alarm this morning. No matter, though–it was just the four of us this year, with no guests to expect and no trips to make. I got up, started preheating the oven, fed the animals, made the coffee, turned on the Macy’s parade and woke the Foodie children. Then I gave the turkey an olive oil rubdown and sent it off to Oventown.
Meanwhile, people were beginning to rummage around for breakfast. The Girl offered to make the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes for which she’d found a recipe on Pinterest, and I was more than happy to let her take over the kitchen for a bit. Her pancakes were, in a word, delicious. With our bellies thus filled with cinnamon goodness, the prospect of waiting for the big meal didn’t sound quite so torturous.
When I got back into the kitchen, my very thoughtful Boy asked if he could be of assistance. I asked him to go ahead and set the table for dinner, and so he did–with a little guidance. Which side of plate does the fork go on? The knife? The spoon? (Can you tell we don’t normally set the table for dinner? We’re a serve-from-the-stove kind of family, most of the time.) I was happy to teach him all the mnemonics that have stood me in good stead for a number of years. For instance: knife and spoon on the right, because “right” has five letters, as do “knife” and “spoon.” Fork to the left, for the same reason. For glasses and bread plates, make a circle of each thumb and forefinger, then straighten your remaining fingers. The hand that makes a b (your left hand) tells you where to put the bread plate. The hand that makes a d tells you where to put the drinks.
After the turkey was out of the oven, I finished up with the sides: dinner rolls, corn souffle, green bean casserole, and mashed potatoes. I’d made the cranberry sauce yesterday, so that was one less thing on the list for today. I’d also taken care of the ready-to-bake apple pie that The Hubs bought for me at the gluten-free bakery on the other side of the city; I haven’t yet mastered gluten-free pie crust, and he wanted me to be able to eat dessert on Thanksgiving without guilt. Or, at least, without gluten guilt. And finally, I baked a cake for The Boy, because he’s not a pie person, even on Thanksgiving. His job was to decorate the cake, once I’d baked and frosted it. To complete that task, he required three types of sprinkles: those that came with the can of frosting he’d selected (I offered to make some from scratch, but he declined); those that we use for birthday cakes, the crunchy little round ones; and those I’d purchased at World Market a few weeks ago, in the shape of leaves. He was very pleased with the finished product–and, since it’s his cake, that’s all that really matters. (In case you’re wondering about The Girl’s beloved pumpkin pie, worry not: I let Costco take care of that for me this year. This made The Girl very happy, since the Costco pie is significantly larger than anything I would bake at home.)
And then, when all had been baked and stirred and placed in serving bowls, we lit the candles, loaded our plates, sat down at the table together, and said grace. We talked about Thanksgivings past, like the year we traveled to Idaho to have The Boy baptized in my parents’ church over Thanksgiving weekend–the same church in which my sister, my brother and I were baptized, as well as many of the Foodie cousins. We talked about what Thanksgiving will be like in a few more years, after The Girl has gone to college, and in the years beyond that, when the Foodie children have families of their own. The Boy tried every side dish except the cranberry sauce, which is nothing short of a minor miracle. He didn’t gag. He didn’t even sigh. He complimented me on the turkey, and when I noted that it was definitely better than the chicken I made last night, which was a little overcooked and dry, he said “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
After dinner we cleared the table, and The Hubs and I took care of the leftovers while the Foodie children set up our traditional game of Thanksgiving Jingo. We played a regular round (which The Girl won) and a blackout round (which, again, The Girl won–earning her both the Pride of Plymouth award and the title of Thanksgiving Expert.) While the kids cleaned up the game, I put the remains of the turkey in a soup pot and started making stock for tomorrow’s soup. In a few minutes–now that we can think about eating again–we’ll all have dessert.
This Thanksgiving–and every day–I’m enormously grateful for my little family. These are the people who know me the best and love me the most. They’re the people who making coming home at the end of the day something I always look forward to. This is a happier life than I could ever have imagined for myself. Would that everyone were so blessed.