My dad would have said I was moving faster than a hog on ice (or a one-armed paper hanger) yesterday morning, putting the finishing touches on the house and getting a grip on our Thanksgiving meal. By six a.m., the turkey, a twenty-four pounder, was in the oven, stuffed with the dressing I'd made the night before. My crew really likes stuffing, especially the crispy bits cooked outside of the bird, so my "recipe" starts with six big loaves of bread, torn into pieces by hand. (And that's story told many times over.) I put the pumpkin pie together using some of those home-grown pumpkins instead of canned. The pecan pie had to wait until I finished the milking; that was for Craig's birthday. (Hint for the day: don't put a birthday candle in a still-warm pie.) I'd already made the pumpkin-cranberry-orange cake for Susan's birthday. Susan was ill and missed her part of the celebration, and she was missed as well. Dave's guest, Russell, was also unable to come. Big on tradition, the menu never changes: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with a couple of gallons of gravy, the obligatory green bean casserole, New Orleans bourbon yams, three kinds of cranberry sauce, and the "Christmas" salad--fruit-laden red Jello--that is never served at Christmas but always at Thanksgiving. Clay got a big dose of ribbing because he forgot to bring the rolls. Susan has become our official salad maker; that's what happens when one does something really well, and she didn't let us down. She sent up her contribution with Larry. Deb and the boys take on their customary holiday roles. Craig is in charge of basting the turkey and keeps an eye on the timer, Deb peels a mountain of potatoes and sets the table beautifully, Dave carves the bird, Clay and Larry follow directions for whatever else needs doing. Once the Kids show up, my job is pretty much over. Looking at these well-loved faces around my table, I was too choked up to make a toast, so that fell to them, as well. I certainly know what I'm thankful for.
Many hands made light and speedy work of bagging up leftovers for take-home packages and getting the dishes done. Like waving a wand, in no time there was no evidence that we'd just had a holiday meal. The incentive, of course, is the sooner that's done, the sooner we can break out the cards and chips and get down to some not-so-serious poker! If there is one indelible memory imprinted in my mind and heart, it is the sound of my children's laughter; it's been that way since they came into my life. As I've said, it's not the date on the calendar, a holiday is who you're with.
It was a good day.