We were hosting again this year after having originally planned to dine with everyone at the Thanksgiving buffet hosted by our workplace, the newly renovated Elms Hotel and Spa. Eventually, we chose to have it at our home again and while much of our thoughts would be with the hotel hosting their first Thanksgiving shindig since re-opening; it would be difficult to relax and not worry about what was going on around us. So settle into the prep routine of our own dinner we did...
The bird was brined with the greatest of care (with lemons and brown sugar and rosemary to spare); the mushrooms were deglazed with brandy not sipped and the vodka was infused with cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin soon to be nipped. Yes, a mason jar of pumpkin pie, crust and all, along with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg was created for a pumpkin pie shots that needed to marinate for a week. We nibbled on appetizers of the beloved feta dip (made from cream cheese, feta, garlic and green chilies) and Puppy Chow (not the canine food, but a sweet treat made from rice cereal and melted chocolate that the kids love). Sierra made lovely placecards for the table. Soon, said bird would be deep-fried to juicy and crispy perfection. There were other newcomers to the tabletop as well: diminutive and cozily satisfying Parmesan and pine-nut biscuits from the King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat cookbook and Southern-flecked asparagus bundles from a Trisha Yearwood recipe (found here) because why just settle for a healthy serving of asparagus when you can get it made with brown sugar and wrapped in bacon? The highlights would be from both of our families...my late Aunt Bonnie's cherished homemade noodles (which Keith nailed this time; I'm convinced my dear aunt may have lent a heavenly hand from Above ) and Sierra's first Thanksgiving meal contribution; sweet and tasty little raspberry cheesecakes.In the end, after the fabulous meal and pumpkin pie shots (served in shot glasses rimmed in brown sugar and topped with nutmeg-dusted homemade whipped cream) were ingested, I was helping clean up and as I looked around and couldn't help but smile at the aftermath. The remainder of the magic noodles from my Aunt Bonnie's recipe in a bowl gifted to us by my bestie Kristy, the deep-fried bird on the gorgeous Sur La Table platter we got from the Leathermans, the green beans in the beautiful Polish pottery we were gifted from the Burnsides. The door was open to the still-balmy breezes and outside the majestic sounds of the chimes that were gifts from family and friends both near and far were wafting in the air. It felt as if so many loved ones had a hand in this one meal. I even dropped a bite of stuffing down the front of my shirt, which I took as Dad smiling down on us and wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving,
The next day, as the kids were piled on me while we watched The Avengers on DVD, the true joy of this holiday was truly washing over me. Gathered with family safe and sound in our home, warm against the ever-chillier wind blowing outside, I was grateful for so much. I am so very thankful for all of our blessings. The day before, I had pinned young Sierra's homemade Thanksgiving card on the refrigerator the day before and in it there were little pop-ups representing the turkey and love and family and...a pinecone. I asked Sierra what the pinecone was for and she said, "it's just random". Indeed, the "random" stuff like work and life stress...and pinecones...all tend to get in the way of what Thanksgiving is about. When we had breakfast at the hotel with Gerald Dickens after his performance last week, he commented how impressed he has always been with the American tradition of Thanksgiving and how it has managed to avoid the commercialization of so many of our other holidays and remain primarily about gathering with loved ones. Thanksgiving does seem to be threatened to be swallowed by Christmas madness, but still it remains relatively pure in its simplicity.
I am so very grateful for our family and friends and the continued blessing of being able to share a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with loved ones. I wish everyone good blessings over the holidays....random pinecones and all.