The problem with the Christmas season starting somewhere around the Ides of March this year is that Thanksgiving was really sort of an afterthought. For some, anyway. Not for moi. Because in my opinion, Thanksgiving (despite what the song says) is the most wonderful time of the year. Food and family. That’s it. No worrying about gifts. There’s lots of football. There is an underlying understanding that we are all going to eat too much, and that understanding comes with a firm conviction that REAL WHIPPED CREAM is okay. Lots of real whipped cream.
In my family of origin, we always had a designated cream whipper. For most of my formative years, it was I. We didn’t use an electric mixer. Instead Mom had a hand mixer with a little handle that you turned very fast and for a long time until you felt like your hand was going to fall off and the cream was light and fluffy. “Don’t whip it too long,” my mother would always tell me. “It will turn into butter.” As a child, I thought that was just something she made up. But as an adult, I read an article on how to make homemade butter. You guessed it. You whip heavy cream for a really long time. It happened to me once, and it was the first time I visited my in-laws on Thanksgiving. I generously offered to whip the cream, and I did it for just a tish too long. It wasn’t butter, but it wasn’t quite whipped cream either. That was the same year that I offered to chop the celery for Wilma to put in her dressing. She watched me for a bit, and when she could stand it no longer, she said, “Do you think you’re chopping that celery fine enough?” Nope, I thought, I guess I’m not. I chopped it finer.
This year the McLains from Vermont joined us at our Thanksgiving table. And when I say “our table” I really mean Dave and Jll’s table. For many years, I hosted Thanksgiving. But we finally outgrew our house. There are only so many ways you can situate card tables to fit what amounts to a family the size of a small Vietnamese village. In fact, the other day, I saw a photo on Facebook of Mitt Romney’s Thanksgiving family table. When I showed it to Bill, he started to laugh.
Here is the Mitt Romney family this Thanksgiving…..
Here is our family at a recent family gathering…..
This wasn’t taken this most recent Thanksgiving. Too few people. But it gives you a sense of what we look like when we gather.
The only difference is that the patriarch in our family has not run for president.
Our dinner table this Thanksgiving sat 22 folks filled with gratitude, which included all of our children and their spouses, all of our grandchildren, Jll’s mother, my sister, and a friend of the family with no other Thanksgiving dinner plans. Everyone pitched in with food, all of which was delicious. Our serving style wouldn’t pass muster at a White House dinner (or probably at the Romneys), it being somewhat of a free-for-all. After our meal and our desserts, many hands helped clear the table, rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher (it required several loads), sweep the floor, wipe off the table, and prepare the bags of leftovers for all of us to take home.
I, for one, got two entire meals out of my leftovers.
The Vermonters got in their car the next morning and took off for their long two-day trip home. Two. Long. Days. With a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old.
I am thankful for the many gifts that God has given me throughout my life. But I am most thankful for my blessed family.
Here, by the way, was my first turkey leftover meal, a turkey shepherd’s pie of sorts….
I have no recipe. I simply cut up my turkey, mixed it with gravy, added some frozen peas and vegetables (I would have used the green bean casserole but somehow didn’t end up with any of it), and topped the dishes with mashed potatoes. I served leftover dressing on the side. It baked in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes until the potatoes were starting to brown. It was delicious.