Especially for Thanksgiving dinner. I remember when we were first married I didn't have to think about that. Our family was young and small and we were still getting together with one or both of our family's homes for the day.
All I had to do was fill out my one-dish assignment and made sure everybody had clean clothing, an extra set and "orange" to wear for walking, and maybe skates if it there was good ice.
Arriving at home the familiar dinner smells met us as we got out of the car. At Elv's folks home there was turkey AND ham from which came the two choices of gravy. Then the sweet potatoes that had been julienne d in plenty of margarine and brown sugar, mashed potatoes whipped to a typical Mennonite creamy smoothness, (none of your lumpy mashed potatoes for us) and numerous side dishes. And pie. Elv's mom makes good pie and always has plenty of them for lunch and supper and snack and take home. You would think that at 85 years old someone else could do all that work, but nobody wants to try to match her brown sugar pie. Don't look at me. Jenny has made a successful Brown Sugar Pie, but that's another subject, completely, and one that Kay ought to take up again.
At my mom's house the meal is simpler and not necessarily in the traditional fashion. For one thing she doesn't bother with cranberry anything since nobody likes it much anyway. And I don't know that we ever have sweet potatoes either. The turkey is always perfection and plenteous. Mom makes plenty of a simple meat n taters meal, but she goes all out for a perfect table.
The glassware sparkles spotlessly on a white table cloth. Mom taught us girls that you don't wipe glassware dry, you wash it in the hottest water you can stand and then hold the clean glass under the running hot water, the cold tap off, then tip the glass over onto a clean tea towel. And wait. When they're dry in a few minutes you hold them up to a light and with a clean lint-less towel you may gingerly and carefully touch up for any left over water spots.
Mom is a great one for center pieces. And hers are always very pretty and pleasing. A collage of candles on her own crocheted doily is probably one of my favorites.
And now it's my turn to plan and please for Thanksgiving since my mom moved off into the sticks of the Northwest and Elv's family doesn't always get together anymore since we all have our own children coming home. Now in case you can't tell it, here's where the plot thickens in my story.
I told you before that I'm not a good cook. What I mean is that I don't like to cook. Hypothesis:Good cooks like to cook. So ideas, inspiration, and the yen about cooking all evade me, always. My favorite line for a planned carry-in is this: You tell me what to bring and I'll be happy to do so.
Thanksgiving is next week and I am trying to get excited about cooking up a traditional (boring if I do it) meal again for my loved ones. If one of the children offers to plan and prepare a snack bar or a salad bar or ice cream only instead, I'll jump at it. So don't do that unless you're serious.
Meanwhile I have been planning ahead and there is a ham AND and a turkey carcass residing in the freezer even at this time, a whole week ahead. I have been riding high on that little triumph for a week already. But we're skidding to a landing now with the knowledge that along with baking one or both of them up in the cook stove, I have to do the potatoes, Mennonite creamy and candied like Mom's respectively. What for side dishes? Elv will suggest/expect baked beans.
Salads and deserts must be thought up and created. I wonder if I can get Frances to make cheesecake and Charlotte to make salads. Now there's an idea. No, I don't care what kinds. Please don't ask me.
The ideas I CAN come up with for Thanksgiving are about visiting and playing. We could play board games and visit. There are hikes to take and wreaths to make. Sometime we ought to exchange names for Christmas. And there're pictures to take of all the activity and babies to hug and tease. And songs to sing. And coffee to drink. And books to read. And letters to write. And traditionally we must have a new puzzle to put together.
I know you can't really have a proper Thanksgiving without food; but for me it's more about fellowship around a puzzle with the cold being held back by fires in the stoves and snow falling outside. That, my friends, makes a perfect Thanksgiving!