Jun 26Giving Thanks

I know that Thanksgiving was more than a week ago, so this post is a bit tardy, but I hope you’ll indulge me anyway under the theory that Thanksgiving is really the the start of a “season” of holiday and cheer and celebration, and not just one day.

When Gary and I were dating, and it came time for Thanksgiving, instead of choosing which family to spend it with we decided that we would host ourselves. It’s usually the only time of year that both our families are together, and the guest count ranges from 8-16 family and friends depending on who has what going on.  I love Thanksgiving – it’s a holiday all about food so how could I not – but usually it’s also a stressful time. The grocery shopping, the prep work, the logistics of getting everything in and out of the oven on time and ensuring it is still hot when we eat: it’s a bit of a challenge even for an experienced host and entertainer like myself.

The year I was pregnant, morning sickness was in full bloom and Gary came down with a 24 hour stomach bug Thanksgiving morning. He stayed in bed most of the day, emerged for the guests and had to carve with rubber gloves! The next year, we thought we hit the lottery when our six month old who was famous for mini naps, took a marathon three hour one just when we needed to prep and cook the most. Turns out, she was teething and had explosive diarrhea the rest of day. Last year she was more mobile, and needed more supervision, so we basically took turns cooking and playing with her, which of course caused everything to take twice as long to finish.

I’ll admit I can be pretty Type A when it comes to parties, so this year I tried to be super organized and do as much as I could ahead of time. Sara has been exhibiting increasing interest in helping us in the kitchen, and we wanted to include her as much as we could. Wednesday morning I set about to roast some squash; she climbed on the stool and asked to help.

Sara and her Squash

That set the tone for the rest of the holiday. Everything Gary and I were making, she wanted to help. Thursday morning for hours we had the music on, the aprons on, and were a little family happily cooking away. From the cranberry sauce to the stuffing to the turkey itself, there was not an item we were serving that she did not have a hand in making.

Sara Mashes Potatoes

At one point, I stopped and took a moment to take it all in. Every other year, Thanksgiving for me was about a hosting a dinner. A party that other than having a pretty fixed menu year after year, was no different than any of the other dinners we throw.  But looking around at Gary and Sara happily chopping (Gary) and mashing (Sara) away, it felt different, special, and like the start of a great family tradition. I wasn’t stressed about the food or the timing, or about anything. I was just thankful, and happy, and I truly felt so lucky to have such a great husband and amazing daughter.

The meal came out delicious. All of our guests had a great time, and I was more relaxed at Thanksgiving than I had been in years. Sara ate with gusto, and even had three helpings of brussel sprouts, which is more than I can say for a lot of the adults at the table!

Hope you had a great holiday as well, and made some traditions of your own.