Thanksgiving is one of my most favorite-ist times of the year. Right up there with Christmas, birthdays, Halloween, Easter, and New Years. And, more recently, the Holiday Formerly Known as July 4 But is Actually My Best Friend Cheyenne’s Birthday (she thinks the fireworks are for her–shhh, don’t tell).
But, I especially like a holiday that includes yummy food. I come from a family of five, six or eight siblings depending on how you look at it. I count it as 6 so 6 it shall be as it suits my purpose. But regardless, Mom has always cooked for a bunch of hungry kids. She still hasn’t quite figured out how to make just enough food for her and Dad. Which actually works out well as most of us kids live around the area and chances are, one of us doesn’t have dinner worked out yet. And generally, I am well-pleased with this situation because I can count on a meal from Mom at least once a week. But it does sometimes suck when one of my siblings calls dibs on spaghetti night and I get stuck with stroganoff night. Anyway, Mom is pretty daggum famous for her Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. She does the whole thing by herself. Occasionally, I will bake a pie or something like that but Mom either considers it a labor of love or thinks we don’t do it well enough and she approaches the task like a strategic invasion or something. She starts planning weeks in advance and writes PAGES of notes about what to do, when to do it, etc. She even has a Projected Timetable for the Actual Cooking day. It reads like, “7:00 am, put turkey in oven. 7:30, mix corn casserole ingredients and place in refrigerator in basement. 8:15 call Grace and harass her about impending arrival.” and so on and so forth. She’s pretty militant about it. But it’s important to her (and…let’s be honest, all of us, really) that it be perfectly timed and utterly delicious.
Now, we live in the Deep South but Mom’s family is from New Jersey so that means that we have stuffing. Bryan’s family is firmly rooted in the Southern tradition of dressing. Now, I shan’t get into the whole “stuffing vs dressing” argument because we all know that stuffing is superior. I may be biased because the first time I had ever even HEARD of this so-called ‘dressing’ was my first Thanksgiving celebrated with Bryan’s family. And let me tell you, I was confused. For those who remain ignorant as to the makings of ‘dressing’, I think it is made from cornbread mix or something possibly dry sand, grit and paste. Now, believe it or not, the first time Bryan had stuffing was at his first Thanksgiving with my family. And either because he’s obviously gourmet like that or because he would like to remain married to me, he insists that he prefers my Momma’s stuffing. Which is a good thing because if/when the Cooking of the Feast ever falls on my shoulders, There Will Be Stuffing In All Of The Land. Thus it has been said and thus it shall be so. Anyway, at Bryan’s family’s Thanksgiving, it’s sort of an “eat while you chat” buffet sort of event. I remember looking around for the stuffing and being surprised someone forgot it. Then I noticed the pan of rectangular blobs and asked Bryan what it was. He told me it was ‘dressing’. And I thought to myself, “Dressing What?” and then, “What do you do with it?” And I tried it and surmised its contents and it occurred to me that I might be marrying into the wrong family tradition. That depressing thought was just starting to sink in when I realized that they didn’t have a pumpkin pie for dessert. Now, Momma usually has at least three or four different types of pie but ALWAYS at least two pumpkin pies because, HELLO, Thanksgiving = Pumpkin Pie, right? But Bryan’s family obviously never got the proper pie procedure memo because sometimes they have things like Coconut Cake. *GASP!* That right there should have clued me as to just what I was getting into.
But I was young and stupid and thought that love could overcome bad Thanksgiving side dishes. And now, I have come to realize that having a husband who is great in bed can, in fact, overcome nearly all family issues. But if Bryan and I ever part ways, I will list, “Improper Holiday Meal Planning” as a reason for divorce.
So, needless to say, I am especially looking forward to tomorrow at noon, when my family commences the “everyone sit around the table, eat and talk together until we are full of food and staggeringly sleepy”. Because Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and a family meal although, honestly, seating has become a real issue as we have all grown up and started reproducing. As of this very instant, tomorrow we will have my parents, five of us kids, each with a significant other/spouse, five grandchildren, and one MIL and one BIL (neither mine). So, that makes 14 adults and five children. Yeesh. I hope Mom has enough Sweet Potato Souffle because there will be suffering for whomever dares take the last of that.
What we won’t do is go around the table and talk about what we’re thankful for. Because I have three brothers whose primary goal in life is to outwit, outgross and generally out obnoxious each other while my parents smile benevolently from their mashed potatoes. Eating meals with my family is kind of like attending a dinner theater–a comedy who’s dialogue consists almost entirely of innuendo and one-liners from The Family Guy and Austin Powers. It’s inevitable that at one point, one of us will be laughing so hard at the exchanges between my brothers that we will have to have our backs pounded to keep the corn casserole out of our lungs. It used to freak Bryan out about the noise and the good-natured ribbing and the hilarity and the noise. But now, he just shovels food in and defends his honor (which is usually at stake considering his half-gayness and all).
But Bryan’s family does have some redeeming Thanksgiving qualities. Bryan’s Mom makes a really good marshmallow, jello, whipped cream, fruit mixture thing which some years is bright pink and others, blue. But it’s good either way. And someone always brings green beans that I LOVE. My Mom makes a green bean casserole which I will not tolerate but someone always brings plain green beans which have been good in something like fatback or bacon (or are those the exact same things, really?) and I LOOOVE them. In fact, I would eat ONLY that and the always-noticeable jello concoction if I could.
Either way, it is always slightly stressful but mostly enjoyable to be around the families at Thanksgiving. The kids are utterly adored by both sides (although they are the only young children on Bryan’s side so the complete tidal wave of Great-Auntie devotion is nearly enough to make up for their questionable taste in Side Dishes). My children are blessed to have the best of both worlds. They enjoy the crazy raucousness of my family and the quiet adoration of Bryan’s side.
I am so blessed to have a husband who I like to be with, who makes me laugh and who laughs at my jokes. He is an amazing father, an amazing husband and, amazingly, he just keeps getting sexier and sexier (especially in his bicycling duds). I am blessed with two wonderful children who prove to me over and over that my heart can go beyond any capacity I thought in loving them. Drew, who is…quite simply, the sweetest all-boy boy ever. And Malyn, who is the kind of daughter that will always make me feel overwhelmingly humbled to be allowed the privilege of raising. Of course, two sentences cannot encompass how truly blessed I am by my kids. Pages and pages would not be enough to tell how incredibly happy I am with my husband and my children. But my mush factor is low and I have other things to be thankful for.
I am thankful for my wonderful family. My parents just rock. Mom and Dad are more than I should be eligible to have as parents. I am increasingly reminded of how lucky I am to have awesomeness and supportiveness defined as parents. I love each and every one of my siblings. My brothers are the best uncles, brothers and friends I could ever ask for. My sister, Dawn, has magically transformed from the little girl who would sing me to sleep to closer than a best friend. I also absolutely adore the people my siblings have chosen as spouses (for all of them *have* chosen). I adore my sisters-in-law especially as Alexis and Linda are mostly just my friends who happen to sleep with my brothers and my future sister-in-law, Kelley, who brings such sunshineyness into our family. I have quite and extensive family who bring such light and laughter into my world. I never have to dread going to see relatives. In fact, we always vacation in their town because a) they live at the Beach and b) they are crazy fun to be with.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am that my brothers have chosen to reproduce to provide playmates for my children. My nieces and nephews are fantabulous and the two latest, Braxton and Brooklyn, allow me to chance to enjoy babyhood again. They make my heart happy.
I am actually incredibly blessed to have In-laws who adore my kids and who tolerate me as much as can be expected. I jest. They are incredibly generous, amazing people who not only support Bryan and me 100%, they watch our kids every Friday night overnight. Yeah, I know. They are keepers. I stand in awe of the fact that my children are growing up surrounded by their family. We live right in between my in-laws and my husband’s grandfather who, at 86, is more active, alert and is much better company than most people one-fourth his age. He’s an amazing man and we love him and his presence in our lives so much that we gave up multiple bathrooms and closet space just so we could be his neighbor. And that’s saying a lot. He gives my kids an oatmeal cream pie every time they see him and he has done so since they were old enough to gum them. Recently, unbeknownst to Bryan and me, he has added “peanuts” to this ritual. “Peanuts” are, of course, peanut M&Ms. He’s a dear, sweet man and exactly who we want our kids to adore as much as we do.
I truly hope that you are half as blessed as I am. If so, you have much to be thankful for.
And now, my mush level has hit overload and I must go stomp on a bug or kick the cat or something.
(I am NOT thankful for the cat. I am thankful that she is residing Outside.)