Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Most Relaxing Thanksgiving

For the first Thanksgiving in at least 7 years I did not have to get up at the crack of dawn to put a turkey in the oven. Last night was the first Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving that we weren't running around throwing things in closets - I mean cleaning the house because the family was coming for the holiday. No fighting, no crazy relatives - well OK a couple of crazy relatives, but nothing like usual. This was the most peaceful Thanksgiving day we've ever had. So why does it feel so weird?

My parents and my in-laws downsized to condominiums several years ago. Since C. and I own a large house (relative to condos anyway), we've always had the Thanksgiving feast here. We usually have anywhere from 10 to 25 people depending on whatever relatives are in town and what friends aren't leaving town. One year we had 32. We've had grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. For the last three years we had a German family of five. They were in the states as part of a military training exchange program. The dad was German special forces and because their rotation is a three year committment, they bring their families. We were their exposure to American culture and the Thanksgiving tradition (as well as other holidays). God help them. We have friends who are military and can't always go home for the holiday. They get invited here. Kids run and play all day, football gets watched, wine gets consumed and lots and LOTS of food gets made and consumed.

You would think that the challenge of "cleaning" the house, cooking for and serving a small platoon of people would be stressful for me. But it's not. In fact I actually love it (well not the cleaning house part). Books always tell you not to try a new recipe for a holiday meal, but I'm a rebel. I start reading cookbooks weeks before the actual event for new ideas. OK, well I actually read cookbooks year round, but the holidays are my chance to "go for it." Please don't get the wrong idea - the one I hoped you would get - that I slave away for the benefit of my guests. Because I don't. I have TONS of help and food contributions. For instance, I have never actually cleaned a turkey. NEVER. You don't have to when you have your Mom and MIL around. Good thing too, because when I was a kid and "helped" my mother they didn't put the innards in a bag like they do now. Something about that experience grossed me out for life. I have successfully avoided putting my hand in a bird to remove the "crap" and wash the thing for years. Not only that but everyone brings something. We've had some "interesting" contributions, and they were all wonderful. There was jumbalaya from the Marine who couldn't get leave that year, rolls made from scratch from my last "best friend" who later went crazy and left her family to move to Vegas, several traditional German dishes from the family mentioned above and many others. I loved them all.

This year was different. This year the kids went with my ex. This is the first holiday I have ever been without them...EVER. My MIL offered to have dinner at her house and I took her up on it. It would be so much easier on me, on us. And it was. My parents were sick, so they cancelled on us this morning, though my Mom still made her contribution and we went to pick it up. It ended up being just 6 of us. C & I, my in-laws and my BIL and his girlfriend. It was peaceful. No stress. I made most of my side-dishes last night to be warmed up this afternoon. No running around, no worrying about everything being hot enough, no kids fighting, no wondering if the bathroom is clean enough. This was the most relaxing Thanksgiving ever.

So why was I so sad?


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Name: Cattiva
Location: Virginia, United States

About Me: I'm the mom of three: #1 Son (20), The Princess of Wails (17) and their baby brother - The Baby (6). I was a grad-student working on an MA in history until we were surprised - I mean blessed - with The Baby. I'll get back to it...someday (the thesis, not the kid - I have no choice concerning the kid). I am one of only a few people I went to school with who is actually using their history degree in my career (and to think my Father called it Basket-weaving!). I live a very hectic life amongst massive clutter. I call it a good day if we have managed to get home at night without losing one of the kids (no matter how hard I try!). Friends say I have a humorous take on life's happenings. The sad part is that what I write about is true. I laugh to keep from crying.

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