It seems like every year we are somewhere completely different doing something drastically different for Thanksgiving. We have had Thanksgiving at the Oregon coast (2007), in southern New Mexico with the chile peppers (2008), and in a log cabin overlooking Bear Lake in southeast Idaho (2004). We have eaten roast out of a crockpot for our dinner because our kitchen was torn apart for a remodel (2011). We have had a huge crowd of cousins over to eat with us just days after moving into a newly-constructed house (2002). Last year, I came home from the hospital with the twins on Thanksgiving Day, and my family all went to the Badger's sister's house for a feast while I stayed home and snuggled babies.
This year everything was very traditional. It was just the ten of us at home because my Kansas cousins weren't able to come. We told the kids no going to the neighbors' houses and no screens. The weather was gloomy and rainy, but the house was warm and full of good smells. The Badger cooked the turkey (I have still never cooked a turkey in my life, thanks to him!) and made potatoes and gravy. I asked each of the kids what they wanted to help me make. Fish and I made stuffing. The Rabbit and I made rolls. Roo and I made green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. Peanut and Frog helped with the appetizer buffet. I love cooking with my kids.
When we had Thanksgiving with the Beaver family two years ago, Mrs. Beaver introduced me to the idea of setting out an appetizer buffet in the hours preceding the dinner so that everyone has something to snack on while they wait for turkey. We decided to do that again this year, and we did it Mrs. Beaver-style: cranberry bread, cheeseball and crackers, olives, grapes, and pickles. The girls enjoyed helping me decorate the table. I love having kids old enough to help with decorating.
It was a huge hit from noon until we finally ate dinner at 6:30 pm. By that point, it was pretty much all gone (and we suspect that Bean ate half the cheeseball all by himself!) The downside was that the little kids weren't at all hungry for turkey. Frog literally ate nothing for Thanksgiving dinner, and Peanut only ate a couple of bites of potatoes. The rest of us were so full after only one helping that we didn't even have room for pie. But there was plenty of time for pie and leftovers in the days following.
I wanted to write down some of the highlights of my day.
- I read aloud Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving to the older kids during the morning. I love that story more every time I read it, and I loved watching my kids enjoy it. It was great having them pinned down (away from friends and electronics) so that we could do things like this together.
- Roo helped the younger children make a gratitude tree, pictured here as a decoration on our improvised Thanksgiving dinner sideboard.
- The Rabbit surprised me by rolling the roll dough out into a perfect circle with much skill, and then she and Peanut had a blast rolling up the wedges of dough. The rolls turned out Absolutely Perfect. I shall have to make butterhorn rolls more often now that I have kids who can happily take care of the time-consuming part for me.
- While we waited for the Badger to put the finishing touches on the turkey, I led the kids in singing a couple of Thanksgiving songs, including my favorite Let All Things Now Living. They sang readily and it was a beautiful moment for me.
- Frog interrupted everyone constantly during dinner by yelling repeatedly various Frog-phrases at the top of his lungs. "Do you wanna dance, Hot Dog?" was a favorite. (We've been watching a little too much Night at the Museum lately.)
- The babies happily enjoyed a tub of turkey-and-sweet-potato baby food for their Thanksgiving dinner.
- I sliced my finger on a chipped glass platter just a few minutes before dinner, which meant there was no way I could do the dishes... oh, rats!
- I spent much time throughout the day pondering what I was grateful for. The thing that was foremost in my mind this year was being grateful for all the grief I have been spared. Shortly before dinner, I opened the oven to take out the green bean casserole. It was on the bottom rack under the stuffing, so I was having a hard time getting it out. Usually when I open the oven I first check to make sure the babies are nowhere near, then I open and shut it as quickly as possible. This time, I was totally distracted by trying to figure out how to get the pan out from under the lip of the rack and I didn't notice Twig crawling up. After I had fiddled with it for awhile I finally got it out. Just then I looked over and saw Twig sitting there just a couple feet from the oven and my heart skipped a beat. In the blink of an eye she could have been right there and put both her hands down on the inside of the oven door. That's what she always does with the dishwasher. There was no reason for her not to do that, and I would have been too distracted to stop her in time. I don't know why she didn't, but for that and so many, many other griefs that I have been spared, I am profoundly grateful.
Let all things now living
A song of thanksgiving
To God, our creator,
Who fashioned and made us
Protected and stayed us
Who guideth us on
To the end of our days
His banner is o'er us
His light goes before us
A pillar of fire
Shining forth in the night
'Til shadows have vanished
And darkness is banished
As forward we travel
From light into Light!