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!”

Made from real pumpkin homemade pumpkin pie

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?

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Posted on November 20, 2011, in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Dianne,
    Take it from someone whose family only comes over because they have to, it is more important to spend time with the ones you love who actually want to be with you on the holidays than what you eat or serve.

  2. Very true. And those are the ones who won’t care if my linens are slightly wrinkled or my turkey is served a tad late.

    LOVE those people. 🙂

  3. We always envision perfection a particular way. In your case, Dianne, it’s turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Mine too, actually. 🙂

    But no matter how much stress we put on ourselves before the holidays, your family is together. How joyful! And when all the food is eaten (not all, because there’ll be leftover turkey for those sandwiches), and the dishes are scattered from kitchen to table and back, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

    And really, isn’t the end result all that matters? A household of family … my kind of holiday. Enjoy your holiday weekend and don’t wear yourself out working beforehand!

    • Don’t you know my sister already ditched her rice dish to make some pumpkin pie! 🙂 God love her!

      As do I! Yes — FAMILY and FRIENDS are the true treasure of the holiday season.

  4. Hi Dianne! I’m thankful for the family that I have left. My husband’s father and mother have passed, as have my mom and dad. My one sister spends T-Day with her family in Southern California which leaves me with my other sister. Then my husband’s sister and his deceased sister’s hubby and kids. We’ve dwindled in size over the years and new babies are coming out which makes it fun. But I yearn for the days when all the “older ones” were around.
    Patti

  5. Oh, you made me laugh Dianne, because I’m dealing with something similar. I love love love Thanksgiving and like you I have to have my certain dishes. Turkey…injected w/cajun marinade and cooked actually the night before, sliced, and stored in all the juices so it’s to die for. Sweet potatoes cooked with butter and sugar. Corn casserole. Homemade cornbread dressing. Cranberry sauce.

    I fight for this holiday every year because my inlaws don’t do turkey. They do chicken gumbo.

    Yeah.

    My head spins too.

    And my mother in law insists on having it this year because she swears that “all” her grandchildren are missing her gumbo.

    Gumbo that you can cook 364 other days if they are so in distress…but (breathing deep) that’s enough on that. So…we are going to eat gumbo.

    And I’m getting a little turkey to cook the night before and set in the juices. Making a small dish of corn casserole. A small dish of sweet potatoes. And making a pumpin pie. Because I’m coming home that night and having it all for dinner…if I have to eat it all by myself! LOL. Because the days after Thanksgiving are just not the same without turkey sandwiches!!

    Good luck with your new meal, Dianne!

  6. I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in seven years and I feel so out of practice. It’s worth all the work just to have a turkey sandwich the next day, though. 🙂 We won’t have any family this year, but friends instead. I’ll miss my family–but not the traveling! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    • I’m with you on the “won’t miss the traveling” part. As a novice Thanksgiving traveler, I agreed to hit the roads last year this time and what a MISTAKE that was! I don’t care for driving much as it is, but I slapped on my happy attitude cap and loaded into the car at 4:30am for the 11 hour drive to my husband’s sister’s place in Virginia.

      14 hours later I vowed NEVER again. Sitting on a highway at a dead stop for over an hour at a time is NOT my idea of fun. I’m getting tense just thinking about it!

      But we did have a GREAT time once we arrived. Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. What sounds great about you holiday Tracy, is that it is part of the reconstituted, multi-ethnic blends, better than fruit drinks or MaiTai’s on the beach. Okay, Italians often cook the trad. meal with turkey and all the trimmings, then they slip in a roast beef and a gray of lasagna. Puerto Rican and Dominican (my son&daughter in laws) cook the trad. with a roast pig (prounouced Peneel) with rice and beans and all my southern friends cook the traditional with collards, mac & cheese, pecan pie and the Irish in-laws add creamed onions and turnips. Love it, enjoy it … for the first time in years I won’t be cooking it … but that little bird will be at the center of it all, not matter what else we eat. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours 🙂

    • WOW. I never realized I was going to be multi-ethnic this year! And as a newly constituted Italian myself, who knows? Maybe I’ll slip in a little red sauce somewhere along the line! 🙂

  8. Of course, I can’t type. It is a TRAY lasagna 🙂

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