Thanksgiving: What Really Happened

by Laura on November 29, 2009

in Blog, Thanksgiving

It wasn’t a meal filled with Martha Stewart perfection, and there was nothing reminiscent of a Normal Rockwell painting in our day. But it was our Thanksgiving, even with its imperfection, lack of planning, and usual craziness.

The day started early at 4:30 a.m. No, I didn’t get up early to brine the turkey or prep the veggies. Instead, I headed right past the kitchen where tons of prep work beckoned, to the office where I fit in a couple hours of work before the signs of life began to appear. Nicole made her way first to the office, but allowed me to continue my work as she sat contently cuddling on the chair with Kona our cat.

Another half hour had passed before I knew the day was really ready to start. I could hear Addie crying, “Keely pinched me in the nose!”

Great, a Time Out before we even get breakfast on the table.

Our plans for the day weren’t grand. In the morning, we were to meet about 30 families for a morning hike out to the beach, then dinner with the family later in the day.

The three-mile roundtrip to the beach and back would be a new tradition for our family, but one we looked forward to – especially since it was a beautifully sunny day.

Once there, Grayson ran off with his buddies, and we didn’t catch a glimpse of him until we reached the beach. Nicole tried to keep up, running, running, running. . herself into exhaustion. As a result, the remainder of the hike was a juggling act with the stroller – three girls wanted in, but only two could fit. The company and the scenery made me forget about my cooking tasks ahead of me, until we encountered the five wild turkeys. I was quickly reminded of the reality that lie ahead, we hadn’t even prepped anything for the meal before leaving. All this talk about getting ahead of the game, chopping celery and carrots the night before, and I didn’t even follow my own advice. I was beginning to worry what time we would actually eat.

Meanwhile, at the beach, the powerful waves momentarily washed away all my thoughts of getting the turkey in the oven. There was nothing I could do about it anyway, I was committed to the hike, and the only way in and out to this beach, was the mile and a half hike.

The kids were tired on the hike back, and honestly so was I. Between Greg and myself, we were either pushing a double stroller with two kids inside or giving a piggy back ride to another tired little girl. Grayson, our trouper, used his own foot power to get there and back. Perhaps he was too focused on finding the bobcats in the tall grass.

By the time we made our way back to the car, it was lunchtime, and we needed to get the kids fed, twins down for a nap, and the turkey in the oven. All I wanted to do was sit back and relax, not stand in the kitchen prepping for dinner.

It was after 1 o’clock when the turkey finally made it into the oven, but not without a hiccup. We had decided to make a maple-roasted turkey, but didn’t prepare. We usually read and re-read our recipes for the days heading up to Thanksgiving. But this time, we just didn’t follow our usual coarse.

Greg was on duty to make the maple syrup sauce, but that would take time – which we didn’t have a lot of. And, that apple cider the recipe called for, just happened to still be at the grocery store.

Time for Plan B.

I suggested making an herbed butter and rubbing it over the turkey. Greg agreed and he set out to get that turkey into the oven.

I whipped up some cornbread – you know, the cornbread I was supposed to make the night before, while Greg was wondering what gravy recipe would best complement our herb buttered turkey.

The kids were so excited about the dinner, that they were always under foot in the kitchen, wanting to help. But with hot pans, opening ovens, and basting going on, we found ourselves constantly saying, “Get out of the kitchen.”

Meanwhile, an hour before dinner was supposed to hit the table, Greg was whipping up the sweet potatoes. When he finished, and was standing there with delicious sweet potatoes, he realized that nothing else would be ready for another hour.

Amidst all this growing mayhem, Greg was in the right mind to pour me a glass of wine. But I was wary of what its affect might be. I was tired from the early morning rise, the hike, and my full belly. (After lunch, I cut into the mincemeat pie. I know, a sin to eat the pie before dinner, but we had three pies and I knew I wouldn’t have room for them all after dinner, so I cut into it).

I was deep into pulling out the formal dinnerware and setting the table, repeatedly saying, “Please, kids, don’t play with the dinner plates!” when Greg announced, with food thermometer in hand, “The turkey is ready!”

With the turkey out of the oven, the herbed bread stuffing in the making, the sweet potatoes getting colder by the minute, I realize that I have yet to peel the potatoes for the dumplings.

I set to work, knowing that it is going to be a close call with the dumplings. As the water begins to boil, I start scooping up the potato mixture and dipping it in the water. After making a few, I realized that I should have grated the potatoes much finer. But, since it is too late to fix it, I continue to make the dumplings.

Everything – and everyone – is at the table, so I leave my post at the dumplings and resign myself to not having them for dinner. After prayers, we start filling our plates.
“Can I have cranberries?”

“ I want a leg.”

“I want cornbread!”

While plates are being filled, I check on the dumplings and place them on the table, knowing they just aren’t my best effort. But it doesn’t matter now; everyone is here together, waiting for food, smiles on our faces. We’re all excited about the food – and it doesn’t really matter to me if someone doesn’t like something on the table. After all, it wasn’t as if I slaved all day in the kitchen.

The kids were so busy filling their bellies that they forgot about dessert! Each had their own individual pumpkin pie that they had made. As I whipped up the cream, they all took a breather and ran around the house. A few minutes later we were all back around the table and we started in on pies,

I have to admit that I missed being with our extended family, but Thanksgiving with just us is a lot less stressful. No special dietary issues to deal with, no need to make everyone’s favorites, no need to get up early to spend the day in the kitchen. Sure, I’m kicking myself for not planning a bit better, for not ensuring that everything came out perfectly, but as I sit down in the dark of Addie and Keely’s room after kissing them goodnight, I hear Addison say, “Happy Thanksgiving, Keely. I love you!” And Keely responds, “I love you too, Addie. Happy Thanksgiving”

Now, that’s what I call a perfect Thanksgiving.

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