It was an unusual Thanksgiving for us, though we had pretty the same guests and menu. Our goal was a relaxing, low-stress holiday with more time for connection. To accomplish, since I do all the cooking (and that won't change), this year we changed the menu somewhat--fewer dishes and not everything made from scratch. (Sure, my heart hurt a bit to forego seasonal, fresh, and even organic for this celebration of food and family, but, when I did do all that, I could rarely even enjoy it.) Gone were three kinds of homemade cranberry sauces in favor of that jelled can that holds its cylindrical shape. Gone was the homemade mushroom cream sauce for the fresh green bean casserole in favor of, gasp, cans of condensed soup and green beans. The extra sides--brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes, roasted butternut squash, spinach salad, broccoli rice casserole, lime jello salad, whatever--were banished. So were the three pies usually made by me (pecan, pumpkin, apple); I made a cake instead and bought the pies from the special pie shop. And we only had two appetizers--Texas Trash and cheese dip. The turkey (made using the new NYTimes splaying method with dry rub), gravy, rolls, yams, and dressing remained the same.
And you know what? I got to sit and enjoy the parade! We watched and chatted and laughed and didn't worry about the cooking. I drank coffee and ate orange biscuits with the family and my in-laws. It beat running back and forth, checking the schedule for everything and not being fully present.
When my brother-in-law arrived after the parade, we broke out lunch. See, second big change: we were having our big meal late in the day, closer to 5 pm than the usual 1 pm. This gave us more time to relax and connect, which was more important to me this year than others, with the loss of our dear Mo and my uncle and the illness of my cousin and the loss of the election and just all the shit in the world (DAPL, Flint, Syria, the need for Black Lives Matter, both the inspiring and the depressing stories of women and liberals on Pantsuit Nation, everything I'm not even mentioning, etc) . . . But we needed to eat so . . . .
Big change number three: we ate dessert first! Yep, we had coconut snickerdoodles and pumpkin bread made by Goo, along with my glazed orange-cranberry bundt cake, Sis's Swedish apple pie, and several little store-bought pies. Plus there were the appetizers and some cold Szechuan dishes Mama picked up for savories (noodles and beef.) It was fun to sample everything without being stuffed from turkey etc. My cake was delicious, as was Sis's own Swedish apple pie. And I liked Goo's coconut snickerdoodles. And we all had fun sampling the various nut, cream, and seasonal pies. (Sis likes the lemon chess best. I like that and the coconut cream and also chocolate peanut butter. Tomorrow we eat the key lime! They're small, like a store-bough chicken pot pie.)
Then the cooking started. But--change #4--I didn't do most of it. Mama and Bud made his oyster dressing. Bud and Goo made the green bean casserole. Sis and Goo made the yams. I had made the rolls and the regular dressing. Mama, as usual, made the turkey. And Sis made the gravy all by herself.
And it was delicious! Best gravy ever. It was all delicious. And I could enjoy it much better. I think we all did. And not only because there weren't many leftovers. Everybody said they liked the late meal because they weren't trying to cook while socializing or later socializing through a food coma. The kids and their uncle also liked dessert first. I did, too. Who can enjoy pie after turkey? The only downside with the late meal was that my in-laws left pretty much right after we ate, but Goo hung out with us playing games and such. We always have a good laugh.
And then it was pretty much bedtime. A lovely day, for which I am thankful.
Especially for dessert first.