Oh, God, I dread Thanksgiving.
And here it is, staring me in the face. I guess I have to clean the house this morning, after I get the stuffing made, the bird stuffed, and the dough for the rolls rising.
And find the skinny little candles that go in all the amber glass turkeys that march around the center of the table. I’ll drag out the Lenox and my grandmother’s turkey platter and my silver and my Italian jacquard tablecloth with matching napkins that only see the light of day once a year. That goes for the Lenox, too. The Waterford stays in its storage box these days, while the equally fragile Riedel on the ridiculously long stems appears.
I see that I still haven’t dragged out the thousands of dollars worth of autumn candles and wreaths and other decorations that are stored upstairs. Where’s the cornucopia that the Daughter painted in the third grade? Good thing that I observe Advent, which starts Sunday, so I won’t be decorating for Christmas any time soon.
At some point, I need to change these yoga pants into something chic-but-grease-resistant and wash my hair.
Place cards. Do I go with place cards, since we’ll have a guest, The Daughter’s beau? Or is that over-kill? There are only five of us this year, and most of us remember our names and pecking order at the table. It’s over-kill, and we don’t want to frighten off this nice young man who bought me flowers at the ballroom dance debacle.
Oh, no! I should have cleaned the ovens!
Does anyone really have that warm-hearted, sit-around-the-antique-pine-table-in-ladder-backed-chairs-with-a-smiling-lavender-haired- Grandma-in-a-lacy-apron-presenting-a-platter-of-bronzed-turkey-surrounded-by-fancy-cut-oranges-topped-with-maraschino-cherries-kind of Thanksgiving? Did they ever?
Does anyone actually eat squash?
I don’t like turkey. I don’t like cranberries. I don’t like Jello. And, most of all, I hate that slimy green bean casserole. We don’t eat it any other day of the year, but, sadly, my family expects it on Thanksgiving because it was The Veterinarian’s favorite. Years ago, another family always came for Thanksgiving dinner, and my friend recently told me that her now-married daughter doesn’t consider it Thanksgiving without the green bean casserole. My own Daughter is now in charge of making it, because who can’t dump mushroom soup in green beans and top with canned French-fried onions?
I’d rather be remembered for my unique pumpkin pie which has ground black pepper as a key spice and candied ginger in the whipped cream topping. The Daughter is going to make little pumpkin tarts. Her date is going to make lemon bars for the family members who don’t eat pumpkin pie. My Mother will make her candied sweet potatoes and charge me with toasting the marshmallows without burning them. My Sister will make the cranberry mold, which is spectacular and which I can’t pull off.
I’ll get to flip the bird, not because I love to say that, but because The Veterinarian discovered that it gives a juicier breast to cook it upside down and then flip it. I always held my breath, watching him flip a 24-pounder, but, without him and our friends, it’s just a 15-pounder this year.
It will all be perfect, because there will be alcohol. Trapped in my house for six hours, no one will be driving. I charged the Daughter’s Beau with bringing a bottle of Prosecco under $20 to go with the brie and crouton appetizers (thank you, Wegman’s) and my Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup. (See? I answered my own question about squash.) There will be a pinot noir with the turkey and an ice wine with dessert.
Then, I’ll box up the leftovers in every spare plastic container, unless they remember to bring their own. I’ll throw the turkey carcass in my huge stock pot, cover with water and a lid and bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Then, I’ll turn off the heat (without uncovering) and let it sit on the stove overnight, when I’ll finish the stock.
I’ll hand wash the Lenox, silver, and crystal, throw the linens in the washer, start the dishwasher, and hit the sheets.
Finally, I’ll give thanks that I survived another Thanksgiving, another chance to be together with loved ones. If I’m lucky, there will be another chance next year. Same time. Same place. Same menu. Same love.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Cozy Crock Pot Cider
In years past, I always made this hot cider. You have to omit the rum, if you have kids running around unattended, or, maybe not, if you want them to fall asleep. (Just kidding!)
½ gallon apple cider
1 quart orange-pineapple juice
2 sticks of cinnamon
12 cloves, tied in cheesecloth
1 cup dark rum (or to taste – optional)
Combine all ingredients in crock pot and heat until warm, about 1 hour.