Thanksgiving is right around the corn shocks, and it is one of my favorite holidays. Truthfully, I like them all, but Thanksgiving is the most pleasant and peaceful to me.
There are no pumpkins to carve or costumes to create, no gifts to buy and wrap, no tree to cut and decorate (with related needles and pine pitch) and no cards and letters to send.
I like to take some time to contemplate my many blessings around Thanksgiving time and this year I have much to be thankful for.
I am most grateful to be back in my own house this year. I made it in time for my birthday, which was my goal. I am very happy and content here.
I am thankful that the paperwork is settled and the move has been made. I still have a frightful amount of unpacking to do, but progress is being made, however slow.
The kitchen is hardly a scene from a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting — but it shows good potential. The boys helped me remove the cabinet doors, which are all stacked in one corner. The house was built in 1945 and the cabinets were handmade. So sturdy, if not a bit off center here or there. I am going to paint all the doors and drawers antique ivory, and put rustic black hinges and handles on to finish them off.
Maybe by New Year’s?
Back when I started making the feast for the family by myself — I wasn’t exactly prepared for the job. My time in the kitchen with my mother meant that I was the scullery maid and she created the meal. I peeled the mountain of Idaho potatoes and sweet potatoes, and the apples for the pies. Basically, I was a peeler. This experience didn’t help much when I had to whip up a Thanksgiving meal for the in-laws. Simply peeling a bunch of stuff does not a family feast make!
I was absolutely flummoxed about how to get all the items to be prepared ready at the same time.
What did I do when I needed to put some side dishes in the oven and the big fat turkey was taking up all the space?
What did I do when the potatoes were ready far too early, and were floating around getting watery and mushy? How could I speed up the turkey so we could then make the gravy and scoop out the stuffing?
Did I have enough chairs, or even plates and bowls? Could I stay out of the wine in order to keep my head clear? ARGGGHHH! It was not a peaceable meal.
That first year I needed a mentor. No one told me that a frozen turkey can take several days to thaw. I thought I could just pick it up on my way home from work and throw it in the oven in the morning. That was the year I thawed it in the bathtub. I got up every two hours to change the water, and the poor thing (hard as a brick) floated around looking less than inviting. A disgusting greasy ring around the tub formed, and the turkey had to come out so showers could be taken, and then put back in. It is a wonder that no one got sick.
I also remember that the pumpkin pies I made had some sort of odd cracks in them like the Grand Canyon, and I had to cover it all with whipped cream.
I eventually learned to do more than just peel, though my Thanksgiving dinners were never going to win any prizes — but I never forgot that turkeys take a dang long time to thaw.
I like the part of Thanksgiving when the meal has been served and the stress is over. I like it when everyone is full and loosening their belts. I like it when the parades are on or the football games have started. Before I could get the dishes done, half the family would be sleeping — thanks to the turkey’s magic tryptophan. Snoring relatives were about as close to a compliment as I was going to receive.
Before I could catch my breath, it was time to drag out the leftovers for a “remainders” supper, and to pack up “to go” cartons.
The huge turkey carcass was taking up most of the refrigerator, and the only thing that had been completely consumed was the wine.
I hope my gentle readers all enjoy a peaceful day! I am grateful for every one of you! Thanks to Seth Carlson who decided to keep my column running — I am grateful to still have that connection.