Like good athletes, we’ve trained. Grocery bag lifts, squats to the bottom shelves of the fridge, stretches to the highest cabinet shelves. After work dinner preparation speed trials. Our muscles are toned from the repetitive motion of chopping, stirring, kneading, mixing, chewing, washing, and drying. We are ready for the biggest food day of the year: Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. No expectation of gifts, just food, football, and family time. There is literally nothing planned for the day except the creation and enjoyment of the big meal. There are occasional surrounding activities like running a local Turkey Trot 5K, watching the Macy’s Day Parade, and the professional football match-ups, but mostly we hover around the kitchen working out when to get the turkey in the oven and how to get all the sides baked as well.
Our menu is usually traditional, the most memorable update for a couple of years being stuffing made from White Castle hamburgers (delicious). Our kids love to cook and we let them take the lead this year: oyster stuffing with bread cubes from a homemade loaf, green bean casserole made with a garlicky white sauce and shallots, shaved Brussels sprouts and noodle salad with an Asian dressing. Of course there’s still a turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy.
When the kids were small, the feast was met with selective enthusiasm. Carving the turkey was exciting, making gravy pools in the potatoes was especially fun, and then there was dessert. Sitting in the formal dining room was a novelty, but odd, and after a few attempts at “trying everything on your plate”, they’d slither out of their seats and run off to play.
Now they’re as invested in the meal as we are, and skilled cooks too. We’re all vying for position in the kitchen, prepping the sides in the last hour before we eat. Every pot and pan is in use, all surfaces are covered, and our eyes are on the clock. I’m clearing counter space at the appropriate moment, washing and rewashing mixing bowls and pots, and pulling china from the cabinet.
Somehow it all comes together, like an elongated episode of Chopped. We are at the table, our plates mounded high, and everything is delicious. While proud of how well it all turned out, this is about the time that we realize we can barely finish our food, and there will not be room for the pies for a while. But we’ve also achieved an equally important aspect of the Thanksgiving meal – having leftovers! I see a turkey tetrazzini casserole, veggie plates, and pie for days. Yum!