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Archive for December, 2010

We won’t have to have Thanksgiving next year because we had two this year. That is – two complete Thanksgiving dinners with two turkeys, one ham, and more side dishes than would fit in the refrigerator. You would think I like Thanksgiving or something. Actually, it’s never been my favorite holiday.
To me Thanksgiving means a day of cooking and then weeks of guilt. There’s little about the traditional dinner that fits into a healthy eating plan and don’t even think about substituting actual healthy food because the family would never stand for it. This year my husband did sacrifice the traditional green bean casserole – the one with cream of mushroom soup and fried onion-like rings, but not willingly. I just told him to forget it when our guests offered to bring both broccoli and asparagus. Since we had three different kinds of potatoes (mashed, mashed with garlic and mashed sweet potatoes), two green vegetables seemed reasonable.
Of course we had stuffing and it had both sausage and butter mixed in with more bread than I’ve eaten in the last year. And we left the turkey fryer in the garage because some people in the family don’t believe the stuffing tastes as good if it’s not actually stuffed into a roasted turkey.
So although my Thanksgiving dinners were labor intensive, they’re weren’t the least bit creative and they were completely not healthy.
My question is why? But a better question is “why twice?”
It’s the oldest daughter, of course. When she told us she wasn’t going to be home on Thursday and suggested we postpone Thanksgiving to Saturday, I agreed, of course. When one of your kids is driving six hours just to see you, how can you say no? But that left a big, blank space on Thursday with the youngest home from college and the middle child assuming there would be food at our house. I couldn’t claim I was too busy to cook two dinners but somehow it snowballed.
On Thursday we dug out the best dishes, the cloth napkins, the used once-a-year platter. The youngest daughter climbed up on the counter and pulled out the cloudy wine glasses to wash and shine and add to the shiny, well used ones lined up next to the cork screw. Then we did it all over again on Saturday. We even had the same guests at both dinners. I don’t think they really wanted to redo Thanksgiving, but they’re good enough friends to humor us.
As always, I made an apple pie. The family requested pecan pie; the oldest daughter had to have pumpkin. One set of guests brought bread pudding, another brought a cheese cake. There were enough calories in just the deserts to keep fatten up a third world village.
So now with leftovers from two Thanksgiving dinners still filling my refrigerator, I can feel guilty until Christmas when we do it one more time. After all, turkey is fairly inexpensive for a special dinner. In fact, my husband is advocating turkey for our part of the annual neighborhood dinner party, but I just can’t face another one that soon!
Sometimes I’m tempted to follow in my mother’s footsteps and quit my role as chief Thanksgiving chef early. I think my mother was younger than I am now when she cooked her last Thanksgiving dinner. We had some interesting holidays when I was a young adult. One year she left me and my brother alone and went to visit her aunt in Florida. My brother and I, both seniors in high school, did what any teenager left home alone would do, we had a party. We served apple pie and whatever beer our underage friends could acquire. At the time, I thought we had gotten away with it, but looking back, I wonder if my mother knew all along what we had been up to.
There were other years when we ate out and my sister cooked a couple of times. Then after I was married, we went to his family home for Thanksgiving and I’d bring along a book or two and finish them while the others watched football. Being a non-football fan in a house where the cook had dinner ready two days ahead of time, was exquisitely boring. I can remember begging to fill the water glasses because it was simply something to do.
When we had kids we bought them along and I was relegated to an un-childproof family room to try to amuse bored toddlers so they wouldn’t interrupt the football watching. I was relieved when we moved to Arkansas and I could use that as an excuse to cook my own Thanksgiving dinner. I finally had something to do!
Looking back I can say that we’ve had lots of good Thanksgivings at home and away. We’ve eaten in California, New Mexico, Florida and one memorable year near Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. This year’s meal will be added to our collection of Thanksgiving memories as the one and only time we had two Thanksgiving dinners. And while I’m busy being thankful for good friends and family that join us, I’ll try to remember to be thankful for the chance to cook.

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