Is it just me?
Or is time passing faster than the speed of light? I mean, who can believe Thanksgiving is Thursday? Thursday! AGH! I’m hosting 21 people at my home for Thanksgiving dinner and haven’t BEGUN to plan for the main event. There are tables to find, napkins to press, glasses to shine to a sparkle, appetizers to create, desserts to crave… I’m no Martha Stewart (though I secretly crave to be), but I haven’t even donned my thinking cap!
Okay. That’s only partially true. I AM thinking about it because the emails have started pouring in. You know, the confirmation, “I’m just checking in” emails?
“What’s my assignment?”
“What time should we be there?”
“Did you know Olin and Sally are driving up from Miami?”
Er–no, that’s news to me. Licking the pad of my thumb, I leaf through recipes collected from magazines throughout the year (yes, Martha Stewart Living is one of them) wondering, “What’s my assignment?” Besides being hostess, I mean. My sister-in-law is preparing to bring an entire roasted pig—something about a traditional Phillipino meal, if I recall. “It’s the whole pig, Dee. Is that okay?”
Sure. No problem. I’m totally spontaneous and love trying new things! Egads. Forget that I wait 11 months for leftover turkey sandwiches served up on toasted bread with a little melted Swiss cheese and spicy Dijon. It’s probably bad for me somehow anyway, I’m sure. Right?
My other sister-in-law wants to try her hand at a new sweet potato recipe. “Will anyone care if there are pecans and coconut on the sweet potatoes?”
You mean as opposed to marshmallows baked to a golden melt-in-your-mouth perfection? Nah, go on with your experimental old self—no one will even notice! Gulp. Hardly. Except for my daughter and I. We LOVE marshmallows on our sweet potatoes.
“Do you care if I bring Tiramisu for dessert?” asks my stepmother. “I have a new recipe I’ve been dying to try!”
This, from the gourmet chef who keenly resembles Martha and could actually pull off a holiday meal as well as any pro. “Tiramisu you say?” My taste buds claw in protest. “Sure. Sounds great!”
As I hang up the phone, my shoulders slump. No turkey, no cranberry, no sweet potatoes with marshmallows and no pumpkin pie? Well, that about does it. We’re having a contemporary Thanksgiving I tell myself. It’s okay. Time for a change, I try to buoy my spirits, while the old adage pummels my brain: the only constant in life is change.
Then my mother called. “Since you haven’t given me an assignment, I’ve decided I’m going to bring collards.”
Collards? That overly salted southern version of sautéed spinach? “What about the green beans you always bring?”
“I’m saving those for Christmas.”
Of course you are. And I’m biting my tongue until New Year’s. Why?
Because more than anything else, more than I love the tradition of turkey and cranberry, stuffing and pumpkin pie, I love my family. I love the time we spend together as a whole, I love the time my kids and I spend preparing the house for company, and I love the idea that through the years, through all the moves and upheaval, we still come together for the holidays. My core family of siblings and their children and yes, even my mother and stepmother (not to mention my father’s long-term ex-girlfriend before his current wife!) all get together and celebrate the spirit of family togetherness. I can’t imagine a holiday without them all and I can’t imagine not slaving over a hot iron and crisp linens to make it perfect for them all (like Tracy Soup does it!).
Nor can I imagine no turkey, cranberry, or pumpkin pie—which is why I’m doubling the offerings this year and baking a small turkey, crushing a cup full of cranberries for saute with brandy while my daughter bakes a pumpkin pie (with a marshmallow topping). Sorry, but some things MUST be eaten on Thanksgiving. In my house, anyway. 🙂
Does that make me a bad person? Am I stuck in the mud or just know a good holiday meal when I see one. How about you? Doing something different this year?