Just another thing to be grateful for.
My parents moved to a retirement home this year. A small apartment. So mom informed me that Thanksgiving would be at my house this year. I knew this would entail a lot of work, but I really had no idea. But, let's look at facts:
I've never cooked a turkey before. I'm not sure what's in dressing other than cornbread and sage. Alton Brown says it's a sin to serve canned cranberry sauce.
Things I learned:
A fourteen pound turkey won't thaw out in the refrigerator in two days. There's only so much room in an oven. You can get green bean casserole in a kit. The little bride finds this a useful excuse to spend thousands of dollars on decorating and serving items.
The lady next door asked me how many people we were expecting. I went through the fingers on both hands and was about to unzip my pants when I told her, "somewhere between 12 and 20, as near as I can figure."
"There's a helluva difference between 12 and 20!" she exclaimed. Something else that just hadn't occurred to me. I determined that I would make food for 20 and if it turned out to be just me and the little bride, we'd have leftovers to eat for days to come.
When I got up Thursday morning, I realized my turkey was still pretty much frozen. Not a good thing just before show call.
I dumped him in a sink of cool water and started reading the instructions that came with him. "Thaw turkey in refrigerator for 24 hours for each four pounds." Hmmm. Guess I should have bought him before Tuesday. Crap. Oh well, there's always the suck factor.
My daughter, being the impoverished college student, had to work Thanksgiving night, so she stopped by to say hello about mid afternoon. The turkey was in the oven and I was taking a shower when she got there. I came out with wet hair and wearing my Texas Longhorns tee shirt. I bought the shirt, by the way, to impress my relations from Oklahoma. I know just how much they think about Texas and wanted them to be happy. Actually, it's like I told my niece, "if it sucks bad enough, ya'll won't want to come back next year." The suck factor.
I had no idea it would have such an adverse effect on my prissy college student. "Oh, no, Dad." she said. "Why are you wearing that thing?"
I tried to explain about the suck factor and all that, but she was buying none of it. "We can't even be friends anymore," she said, "much less give you a hug."
I changed shirts, got my hug, visited for a bit and then she left and we went back to furiously preparing supper for a crowd of from 12 to 20. By this time the little bride was ready to start putting her (not) famous dressing together. Neither of us had any experience in that department. I had, however, made her a big pan of cornbread the day before.
We put the dressing and the (kit) green bean casserole in the next door lady's oven and started putting together all of the salads and other assorted sundries. Sorry Alton, I glopped a can of cranberry sauce into a bowl and called it good. I fixed a pan of sweet corn for my niece who says mashed potatoes and gravy aren't complete without corn to squish in it.
I also sliced up some sweet potatoes and sauteed them in butter and covered them with a sauce of butter, brown sugar and cayenne pepper. Some of the relations that never eat sweet potatoes said they were good.
I peeled about ten pounds of regular taters for the bride and she made mashed potatoes in mass quantities. Meanwhile, the rolls were rising in their little compartmentalized muffin tins.
I retrieved the dressing and green beans just before the first arrivals and things went to def-com five as I furiously tried to tie up all the loose ends and seat sixteen people for the meal. I watched impatiently as the meat thermometer rose slowly degree by degree to the required 180 degrees the instructions said to get in the thigh. And as the grand bird rested next to the stove, I peeled the saran wrap off of the rolls to put them in the oven. They all popped and went puddly over the top of the pan. Suck factor, I grinned through clinched teeth.
One of the brothers-in-law was kind enough to carve up the bird and I started gathering the flock from various parts of the house to assemble for the long awaited moment. I was so relieved that everything had come together (except the rolls) that I fervently prayed, "Lord, I am so grateful for this big family. I am so grateful for all we have. This past year has been so wonderful, I can't wait to see what the next year brings, Amen!"