Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Ruminations

Yesterday I left work early so I could start preparing the big meal (aka "feast") for today. My wife bought six great, big butternut squash that needed peeling and cutting. That's my job. I am a peeling, cutting and dicing fool. The potatoes sit quivering on the counter; they know they're next.

Until her death in 2003, my mother-in-law would spend the whole day helping my wife get things ready. Upon her passing Thanksgiving was never the same. With the death of her father , things have changed again. He died four weeks ago this morning. That's two big empty spaces at the table and we're looking to fill them.

This is the first Thanksgiving that Danielle's boyfriend, Matt, is spending with us. He goes to school near Albany and they have bee seeing each other for several years. They split up after she went to Cairo but upon her return this June they began seeing each other again.

Matt is a great cook. His mom runs a gourmet catering service and he has picked up on her skills. He prepared chicken Marsala for us last night and it was the best I have ever had. After dinner we got busy again and I made the turkey stuffing - the wife was supervising of course. I swear, she obsesses over this. Her stuffing is the benchmark for Thanksgiving and it is always delicious. Unfortunately it also produces high expectations and therefore high anxiety that it won't be up to par.

The insert was placed in the dining room table and we sent the kids looking for the extra chairs.

Later we all sat down and watched "Transformers" and ate the batch of homemade tollhouse cookies that my daughter and Matt made. Not exactly the viewing fare I would have selected for this evening in particular, but Danielle wanted to see it. She didn't see any movies in Cairo.

As usual the two youngest girls got to cutting up with each other and I could barely hear the movie. Jessica (the middle one who's a hair dresser) doesn't have a boy friend yet and the youngest, Rebecca, is too young. We don'tbelieve in dating while in high school.

Between Jess and Becca it is never quiet around here. It's like they're insane. When the three are together it gets worse. A wrestling match between Danielle and Becca broke out after the movie ended and I warned the two of them not to knock over the glass of cranberry juice that Matt had left by the couch. I made the mistake of calling it a "beverage."

Jess latches on to my use of the word "beverage" and harasses the ever loving crap out of me.
"A beverage?"
"A beverage???"
"Look out! There's a beverage afoot!"
And off she goes. She had us in tears. The cookies never made it to the end of the movie. The beverage emerged unscathed from combat.

This morning the corn casserole was cooked and the turkey was placed back in the oven. It's a big bird and will cook for twelve hours before it is ready. The squash will be boiled, mashed and brown sugared next. My oldest daughter, Amy, is bringing collared greens and pie. Collared greens is a first for us, her husband wanted them so I'm kinda looking forward to it. I had beet greens once and I liked it.

I wandered off in this discussion. I really started to ruminate about the use of tables at Thanksgiving. This was precipitated by a NY Times article that I read this morning.

As kids, the four of us (two brothers and two sisters) were delegated to a card table in the living room while all the adults sat in the kitchen. My parents didn't have a dining room. We never thought much about it and this continued throughout the time I spent at home before going to college and then getting married at an early age.

Today we will have to use three tables. One for the older adults - that'll be the one in the dining room. Then one for the college aged young adults - that'll be the kitchen table pulled up to the counter island that separates the kitchen from the dining room; all the fixings will be on the counter between the tables. Then one little play table for the three grand kids.

Our ideal Thanksgiving is when the house packed to the rafters and there's no room at the table for another dish of food or an additional appetite.

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