That’s my counter, waiting for tomorrow. We are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time in several years, and I expect to be cooking all day. I hope to have only the turkey to deal with on Thursday.
When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was so comforting, following the same pattern every single year. We ate dinner at Mima’s at 2 p.m. and supper at Granny’s later on. At Mima’s there would be turkey and giblet gravy; at Granny’s there would be ham and dumplings. (And many other things too, of course!)
But divorce, marriages, kids, and deaths have intervened. We’ve never really come up with a permanent Thanksgiving plan like we had back then. Thus added to the stress of preparing for the holiday is the stress of deciding where and how it will happen.
We started hosting the dinner before we even had a house big enough to do it, with a table that filled the entire living room of our ratty apartment. Once we’d moved to the Victorian house, which had a dining room made for that kind of thing, we were the natural hosts and we filled that role for a long time. My sister and I took turns a couple of times once she had a house. But for the past couple of years we have gone out to eat and then met later on for homemade desserts.
But if you are a parent you know that kids thrive on tradition and DEMAND that it be followed. My kids have never approved of this going out to eat on Thanksgiving business. So this year I am cooking again.
I’m making the turkey, of course (and I plan to document just how I am doing that for my post tomorrow), the gravy (sorry, Mima, no giblets in mine!), the dressing (I’d like to try something adventurous but when I’ve added craisins or nuts in the past my family members have disapproved), sweet potatoes with marshmallows, mashed potatoes (something we added for John–we never had them growing up), pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and possibly apple pie if I don’t get burned out before then. And I’ll also be supplying the tea (VERY sweet), the cranberry sauce (the kind that keeps the shape of the can only, please!), and the sweet pickles and olives (because Mima always had them).
My mother is making the rolls and the green beans. My sister is making casseroles (she is big on casseroles and invents her own recipes) and her mother-in-law is (I think and hope) bringing a ham (I’m the only big ham fan in the family so we never have it; I hope she will leave me some leftovers!).
I feel like I am whining all the time but I do feel just a little melancholy about not having special china and crystal any more. We used to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table. That was John’s contribution and he always did a wonderful job. He even did fancy things with the napkins. Rather than even attempt to replicate that I think we will be more casual and do buffet style and sit wherever. It is easier anyway–I used to get so worn out from serving all those plates that I was just about too tired to eat!
What about you? What’s on your menu for Thursday? What Thanksgiving food can you just not do without?