We’re hosting our youngest son and his family for Thanksgiving tomorrow. This is Eleanor’s third Thanksgiving and we will have spent two of them with her. Today I’m baking pies, making a centerpiece for the table and thinking about Thanksgivings past.
Mr. Smith and I married in August of 1978. Somehow three months later (I believe his sister Patrice was the instigator), we ended up with the “privilege” of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the Smith clan and my sister Jeanne and her family.
I had never made a turkey, I was a less than stellar cook, and we had a kitchen the size of a small closet. But with the hubris of youth, we said we’d be delighted. The menu was planned, the shopping lists made, and I requested the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off work. Although I accepted all offers to bring a dish, there was much to be done. Intimidated by my always seemingly perfect mother-in-law, I thought everything had to be from scratch. I practiced making yeast rolls and tried out different cranberry relish recipes. We ordered a large turkey, borrowed some tables and chairs and cleaned our apartment top to bottom.
The day before Thanksgiving started with a little panic when I discovered the turkey was too big to fit in our miniscule apartment-sized oven. Commence the scrambling to find a roaster to cook the turkey. This was actually serendipitous because it freed up our oven for baking the rest of the dinner. Figuring out how everything was going to fit in that tiny oven wasn’t something that made it on to my to-do list. That Wednesday, just like today, I baked pies, cut up the bread for stuffing, and worried about getting everything done at the same time!
Thanksgiving morning, I was up early chopping and mixing, getting everything ready for the oven and crossing my fingers that the roaster wouldn’t die on me. Guest arrived, wine was poured, and dinner was served more or less on time.
It was a convivial afternoon and no one left hungry. By the time everyone was gone, I was exhausted and had no interest in going back into the kitchen. In a move I’m not sure I could pull off today, Mr. Smith and I went to bed and left the mess. This was the first of many times Mr. Smith’s odd sleep schedule came in handy. When I got up the next morning the dishes were all washed and the kitchen was spotless thanks to my own personal thanksgiving elf!
We have now shared 41 Thanksgivings, some as hosts, some as guests. Sometimes a small group, sometimes lots of family and friends. The recipes have changed a bit over the years, there’s no longer any cream of mushroom soup on my green bean casserole. But there is always pumpkin pie. And Mr. Smith always helps with the dishes. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
C’est la vie.