The truth is that I have never once cooked a Thanksgiving meal. I suppose you might say that I have been very spoiled over the years. My mother and mother-in-law accepted that duty for countless years and when they became too tired to continue my brother announced that he wanted to be the official Thanksgiving host. For all of my life I have simply dressed up and shown up at someone else’s home for the big feast. I usually make a couple of pumpkin pies and a side dish but I really have no idea how to make a juicy turkey or how to prepare the fabulous dressing that my brother creates. For that reason I panicked when my brother announced in October that he would not be cooking for a crowd this year due to Covid-19. I was on my own for the first time in my life.
My daughters and their families will be coming to my home. If the weather is nice we will set up tables in my backyard so that each household is able to eat together. The rest of the time we we be fully masked up and distanced for conversation and maybe a game or two. If the weather is inclement we will eat inside at separate tables based on households as well. One group will be in the kitchen, another will be in the dining room and Mike and I will be at a small table upstairs. Hopefully this will be enough caution to keep us all safe and not create a super spreader event.
That gets me to the problem of cooking food, something that terrified me so that I have ordered a family feast from Central Market that I will pick up on Wednesday afternoon. It includes enough turkey for sixteen people, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, green beans and rolls. I feel comfortable adding more side dishes like carrot salad, cranberry bacon brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, squash casserole and corn. I cook vegetables quite well and of course I’ll bake my pumpkin pies and maybe even attempt to reproduce my mother’s pecan pies. Those are in my comfort zone, but turkey and dressing, not so much.
My nephew Ryan has suggested that we have a Zoom conference sometime during the day. That will be nice but I doubt that it will be as crazy fun as our Thanksgiving after parties usually are. They get rather riotous and filled with laughter. In fact those moments are some of the ones for which I am the most thankful. Family has always been more important to me than anything else.
This year we are not only going to be separated due to the virus but we all know that we have had some big differences in our political thinking during this presidential election year. Some among us take things way more seriously than others and I suspect that feelings have been hurt along the way. I’m just grateful that we live in a country where it is acceptable to have a wide spectrum of views. At the end of the day I’m glad my guy won but I’ve lost enough times to know that one way or another I would have been okay anyway. I do not believe that we were going to be on the edge of Armageddon regardless of who had won. Our Founding Fathers set up a really smart system that seems hardy enough to weather even the worst political storms.
I am very thankful that my family has mostly stayed safe from the ill effects of the pandemic. The medical community has served us well and just as I believed would be the case it will ultimately be dedicated scientists, not politicians, who find a vaccine and lead us out of the dangers of the virus. It may still be awhile before that comes to fruition but I am hopeful that by next Thanksgiving we will be enjoying a mega feast and celebration with our big extended family at my brother’s home once again.
We have suffered as a nation and a world in the past many months but there is a beam of light calling us to the future. We are very fortunate in spite our our sacrifices and for this I am enormously grateful. I will be thinking of those who have lost much this year. Some have had to say goodbye to loved ones, others have watched their home and their property being destroyed by wind, rain, fire. This will be a very difficult holiday season for far too many. Hopefully they will have begun to heal when Thanksgiving 2021 rolls around next year.
If this year has taught me anything it is to never take anything for granted. None of us might have guessed what horrors we would witness when we lifted our glasses in gratitude only a year ago. Somehow in spite of it all we are still here, still able to express our thankfulness.