I celebrated two Thanksgivings last week – one with my family and one with my neighbor, Brenda. Of the two, Brenda’s was way more fun and captured something I’ve been trying to achieve for 35 years.
What was it? I’m not sure. Maybe it was the casual nature of Brenda’s wingding as opposed to the stuffiness of mine.
Maybe it was the fact that her guest list was so … inclusive. She invited her family, extended family and a few strays like me – turned out to be close to 30 people once they all arrived.
Me? I’m limited to how many people I can squeeze around my dining room table – or I thought I was.
I always set the table with my best china and silver and work for days on my centerpiece. My table cloth is white and I watch the company like a hawk to see who dribbles the gravy.
I don’t allow anyone in my kitchen and insist on cranking out the dishes like a martyr about to be put to death. (Do I secretly want all the credit?)
There were never fewer than six cooks in Brenda’s kitchen, which is smaller than mine! She didn’t care, and was cool as a cucumber. I, on the other hand usually get overwhelmed, burn the bread and join my guests on the verge of tears.
When cooking was complete, Brenda threw out some unbreakable plates and a basket of forks. Everyone served themselves right out of the pots still bubbling on the stove.
And what a spread.
There was corn on the cob, peas she put up last summer, and the best sweet potatoes this side of the Mississippi. She cooks Vardaman sweet potatoes (they HAVE to be from Vardaman) right on the stove top, adding butter, sugar and vanilla when they are tender. They were so delicious I had some more for dessert.
There was a ham she “crocked” and a turkey (crocked by her sister Ginger). Ginger also made the dressing which was the best I’ve ever had. I got the recipe and it was shockingly simple and just the right consistency. Mine required a soup bowl.
There was a huge green bean casserole – wonder why I stopped making that years ago?
There were cakes, pies and three or four salads brought by some of the guests.
Once everyone got their plates filled, they grabbed a seat wherever they could. The men gravitated to one area (near the TV), the women to another. (I always cut off the television and watch the men grimace.)
We had so much fun, it was almost dark when I finally trudged back across the street to my place.
Now, that’s what Thanksgiving SHOULD be like. Next year, I’m dumping the white table cloth, good china and setting up a portable table in the television room. Heck, I may even serve on paper plates.