Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: the Aftermath

  
And then after a delightful dinner, you are left with the detritus.

I was surprised how exhausted I felt by 8PM last night, considering that our day was low key and we were cooking for only the 3 of us. However, a friend reminded me that whether we are cooking for 3 or 30 (heaven forbid), the amount of work is the same. True that.

At least we have a refrigerator full of yummy leftovers.

Thanksgiving 2015

Today should be the type of holiday I hate: 

  • It’s only the three of us
  • It’s 70 degrees
  • My house is a wreck

But I don’t. Instead, I love it. I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner in my PJs. Actually, we are all still in our PJs.  I typically love chilly weather for Thanksgiving, but Jimmy and I cannot stop telling each other how much we love the bright blue sky and warm day. It’s beautiful.

I love that we are keeping Thanksgiving simple and just cooking for the three of us this year. Ordinarily, I love having a crowd around to celebrate, but not this year.

We will eat when the food is ready. We will likely still be in our PJs and will eat around Legos at the kitchen table instead of a beautifully-decorated dining room table. The house will still be a wreck, but that’s OK because the Christmas decorations come out tomorrow.

Sometimes it is good to be low key.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Small at the Holidays

Jimmy and I briefly looked at the calendar for November and December tonight, and I started thinking about when we would take vacation, what we were doing for Thanksgiving, what we were doing for Christmas Day, when we’d celebrate with other family members, etc.

We aren’t hosting Thanksgiving this year. I kind of enjoy hosting and having a big meal.  We’ll still make our meal a few days later, but this year it is leaving me a bit hollow. When I looked at Christmas – not as far away as we might like – everything seemed so complicated. We are trying to make our own traditions plus celebrate with both sides of the families plus not travel on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. And we’ll have Jimmy’s family Christmas a few days later when his brother and his family come to town. But everything feels so small, which is the sad truth as our family is becoming smaller due to age.

I sighed as I contemplated the calendar and the various occasions. It’s my own hang up. As an only child, I grew up with small events, often feeling apart, longing for some huge family celebration. I want the Currier and Ives holiday.

And that is my problem. I’ve wanted the huge family holiday that has been presented to us in advertising, but I know the reality is far more complicated. The rational part of me understands that while my heart feels…a bit sad and lonely…at our holidays.

I’m sure I’ll feel differently once we get into the sturm and drang of the holidays (pizza on Christmas Eve last year? Yes, no shame!), but tonight, this moment, I feel a wee bit sad.  I love our family of three, but sometimes, we feel so small.

Thanksgiving 2013

child, christmas tree, thanksgiving

Daniel in front of the Christmas Tree on Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving morning saw all 6 of us – three humans and three felines – awake at 4 AM.  Jimmy has been on call this week.  He usually ends up on call over Thanksgiving because he is the team lead and takes one for the team.  In prior years, it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t prevent us from hosting.  This year, however, was different because it was the first time he had been on call since the merger of his utility with another went through. He had heard on call under the new regime was awful and when he realized it would impact Thanksgiving, he issued dire pronouncements about what it would be like a la “winter is coming.”

And yeah, it has kind of sucked because he has had many issues to handle, and they come at all hours and sometimes at the same time. The one at 4 AM this morning set off a chain reaction. I was already slightly awake, but I think the activity woke up Daniel, who called out for me. I tucked him in and gave cuddles as well as locating AWOL cuddlies. Jimmy was back asleep by 5. Daniel by 5:30 and me, 6. Happy Thanksgiving!!!

We had a low-key Thanksgiving. I still wanted to celebrate the day, even if it were only in a small way.  Jimmy’s mother invited us over, so we had Thanksgiving lunch at her house. Instead of becoming extremely well-acquainted with the most intimate parts of a turkey and making a zillion sides, I had only one side to make this year. It felt a little weird, honestly.

But we had a good day. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, mustardy – balsamic green beans (my contribution), sweet potatoes, cauliflower casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, apple pie and eclairs! Daniel was adorable (of course!), and it was nice to be able to sit back and not be the rainmaker in the kitchen for the day! The weather cooperated, and it was chilly, but clear with a gorgeous blue sky. I can’t remember the last time it was that chilly on Thanksgiving in North Carolina.

child drinking tea

Drinking tea with dessert

And best of all, Jimmy received no calls. We had worried whether he would be able to participate, especially when only a few hours before, he had calls at 9 PM, 11 PM, 1 AM and 4 AM. We drove separately in case he needed to leave to tackle an issue. Honestly, we were a bit stressed about the situation. But it turned out great and much better than we dared hope.  We were home by 4, giving Daniel much-needed time to play outside before sunset and then we seamlessly moved into our normal evening routine. And I don’t have mountains of dishes to wash!

house, afternoon, thanksgiving

Late afternoon on Thanksgiving

***

A few days ago, one of my Twitter friends commented about the appearance of the obligatory “what I’m thankful for” posts that had started to appear.  I tweeted back, tongue in cheek, that I wasn’t thankful for anything, and he seemed a little shocked by my reply.

I am thankful for many things. I know I can try to present myself as or come off as a snarky, impervious, ungrateful bitch sometimes, but I am well aware of the blessings we have.

I’m thankful for Daniel, and he is the sweetest, most wonderful little boy.  I’m thankful for Jimmy, who supports me and has my back unconditionally and whom I’m afraid I don’t take care of as well as I should. I’m thankful for my family. We may have a small family and slightly dysfunctional at times, but we take care of each other.

I’m thankful for my job. I know I’m lucky to have a job when so many don’t, and I’m fortunate to work in a good environment and have the flexibility to attend Daniel’s school functions as well as to do interesting work. I’m thankful for my friends offline and on. Seriously, you all are awesome and I never, ever feel alone because I have you all.

I’m thankful we have a nice house and functioning cars and that we can afford food. I’m thankful that one of my biggest worries right now is how I’m going to lose weight so I don’t have to buy a new wardrobe. I’m thankful for my three crotchety cats who make me clean up more poo and pee than when I had a newborn but whom I adore and allow to sleep on my head.

I’m thankful to live in this state, in this country.  They aren’t perfect, but compared to other alternatives, they are pretty damned good.

The bottom line is that I am aware of the many blessings in my life and I am extremely thankful for them.

Happy Thanksgiving. I can truly say we had a great Thanksgiving.  I hope yours was the same.

Phoning It In

This post, my friends, is phoned in because I am wiped from Thanksgiving. Plus, in our cleaning frenzy, we moved our laptops upstairs, so I’m typing on my iPad, which is OK but not great for posting.

We had a great Thanksgiving. I think it was one of the best meals we’ve made, and I am THRILLED we have days of leftovers.

Mr. Twenty-Pound Turkey came out beautifully, and I was so proud of us for cooking a whole turkey. And, as all of you told me, it wasn’t a big deal at all cooking a whole turkey vs a breast.
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I did get a shower, but my hair was still wet when the in-laws arrived. We hadn’t had a chance to change Daniel out of his flannel Thomas pajamas and no one saw the point of doing so, so he ate dinner in his PJs. Smart boy. I wish I had done the same!

It’s always funny that you spend so long cleaning and cooking for a meal that lasts around an hour. Three hours after arriving, our guests were gone. Jimmy and I cleaned up while Daniel watched a movie in the living room in reward for his awesome behavior. The best part? Collapsing into bed with a completely clean kitchen. Ahhhhh!!!

We spent today quietly. After standing all day yesterday, my knees ached. Oh, I forgot to mention that Daniel developed the tell-tale barking cough of croup last night. Only days after he finished the antibiotic for bronchitis! Since it was warm today, we played outside for a bit, but he had a nice, warm bath and quality time in his PJs.

We put up our tree today. It’s a new one because our previous one died. It’s 9ft tall and massive, but it looks great. I can’t wait to decorate it. Daniel loves it and keeps running into the living room to stare at it. I used to despise decorating for Christmas before December, but in the last few years, I’ve grudgingly come around to doing it after Thanksgiving because life gets so busy that it seems like it’s right after Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve. Hey, at least I’m not like some of my neighbors who decorated right after Halloween! Seriously.

I downloaded a new book. We have lots of good food to eat. Jimmy and I have started watching The Tudors from the beginning (I know it’s historically inaccurate, but the spirit of the show is right).

I’ll leave you with Daniel’s favorite video from YouTube. He asks for it like this: “I want to watch kitty cats that look-kind of sound like a Bitty Boo again.” Translated: there is a video of cats who look and sound like our three cats, and it cracks him up to watch them.

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you go shopping today?

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving flowers and figurines

20 pounds of turkey is in the oven, with its cavity stuffed with onions, celery, lemons and herbs and a paste of rosemary, garlic and olive oil smeared under the skin.  Nothing like violating a turkey first thing in the morning:  I feel like I should have introduced myself first or at least bought the turkey a drink.

The world’s tiniest sous chef helped me break the green beans; he took his responsibility very seriously!

sous chef with his green beans

Helping prepare the green beans

The dressing and sweet potato casserole have been assembled and ready to bake later on.  Now it’s time to clean, and if I’m really doing well time-wise, I might even get to take a shower before the guests arrive.

Even though our table will be short one guest this year, we know she will be with us in spirit.

Carnations for Mum

Carnations were Mum’s favorite flower

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no-good year, but we still have so much for which to be thankful.  Today we will acknowledge our blessings and hopefully that knowledge will stay with us every day.

May you all have a happy Thanksgiving.  Eat lots, be merry and hug your loved ones.

The Calm Before the Holiday Storm

I know it’s been a busy, active weekend when by Sunday evening, my body begs me to sit down and I have a familiar stitch in my lower back from some muscle that I’ve insulted and mistreated.  I never can pinpoint the one activity that led to the soreness.  Sometimes I refer to it as “Doodle Back” from hefting around 36 LBs of wriggling 3 year old.  It’s not bad, just a nagging reminder that I probably bent a certain way or lifted something in a way that would displease OSHA.  That’s why Advil was invented, right?

Today we spent a good hour or so outside with Daniel.  It was a little chilly (he was bundled up snugly, grandma!), but he was so eager to go outside after being cooped up since Thursday.  He and I walked down our street and down the street that intersects with ours.  It was very windy, but nice.  I hope none of our neighbors minded the miniature flower thief, who thought nothing of plucking a pretty flower here or there.

Daniel is a nut for nature.  We bring out toys for him to play with and balls to kick, but he prefers to pick up leaves, pine cones, flowers and whatever else catches his attention.  He stores his treasures in his big dump truck and loves to push it up and down our long driveway.  Jimmy taught him the various types of leaves, and Daniel delights in finding and identifying them.  I think I could take a lesson from him in focusing more on what I want to do instead of what I feel like I am expected to do. Today he found a huge leave and a teeny tiny leaf and brought both inside.

big and little fall leaves

Giant leaf and tiny, baby leaf

leaves and letters

Leaves and letters: a few of Daniel’s favorite things

 

Daniel has had very strong feelings about nap time recently (as in he prefers not to).  Usually if he doesn’t sleep, he’ll play on his bed fairly quietly.  Not lately.  Oh no.  Lately he has been gleefully Daniel the Destroyer.  He’s happy the entire time he’s destroying his room.  This weekend he didn’t even attempt to nap.  We’d had some success recently in restoring naps, but it looks like Daniel has decided that nap time is definitely optional. As long as he’s not smearing anything on the walls, we’ll deal with it.

demolished bedroom

Instead of napping, let’s destroy my room

Daniel took his final dose of antibiotics tonight and since it was a really nasty, gritty antibiotic (flavored with raspberry though!), we promised him a surprise if he took the medicine without complaint (he’s fascinated with spitting lately, especially spitting out foods or liquids that displease him).   Tonight we let him open Salty, another resident of the over-populated Island of Sodor.  Salty was well received and quickly made friends with the other trains.

The great reveal. BTW, the pan on the stove holds party mix I made today. Yum!

Letters, meet Salty. Salty, meet my letters.

 

Daniel the Destroyer AKA Daniel the Despot AKA Daniel the Delightfully Energetic is in bed.  We’ve done a lot to prepare for Thanksgiving, but there is still a lot more to do.  After 4 days at home, I must admit that I am relieved to be returning to work tomorrow, even though it is a very short week for me. At least at work, no one will demand to play Candy Land before 9AM.  At least not usually although weird things have been known to happen.  This may sound odd, but I think a few days at work we’ll give me the mental reset I need to prepare for Thanksgiving.  That or a kick upside the head 🙂

I feel silly that I didn’t realize my LTYM co-producer is participating in NaBloPoMo too!  Please stop by and say hello if you have a chance.  Serenity is also participating.  She’s had a hard few months, so she could use a virtual hug.

Have a great week.  The holidays are officially upon us.

 

Bird is the Word

Remember yesterday when I posted our Thanksgiving menu and said we would be roasting two turkey breasts, with herbs lovingly (well, attentively) spread under the skin?  Today I made a list of all the things we needed for Thanksgiving, and the three of us went to the grocery store.  Things were going well until Jimmy noticed that we could buy a 20 LB whole turkey for $9 after discounts vs the two 6 LB breasts for $13.  As we pondered the $4 difference, our feelings ranged from disbelief to panic to disbelief to calculation to panic to acceptance to consideration to nonchalance to excitement to determination.

We bought a 20 LB whole turkey for $9. It’s sitting in our refrigerator.  We’re slightly back to feeling panicked because we’ve never cooked an entire turkey before, but surely it cannot be that much different from roasting turkey breasts, right?  We’ll see.  We’ll know for sure on Thursday.

turkey

So big it’s almost frightening (that’s what she said)

We had a good day.  It started off a bit roughly as Daniel and I had an impromptu, unintended tug-of-war with the French doors in the master bathroom, and he ended up with a black eye.  I feel like flagellating myself like the weird albino priest in Angels and Demons every time I see his face.

Jimmy let Daniel wear his hat, and there is nothing cuter and more inappropriate than a 3-year-old wearing a Macallan’s hat.

macallan's hat

Shiner, Macallan’s hat and dinner. Tough guy

Daniel received a card from his grandma today, and he was all ears as Jimmy read it to him.

Thanksgiving card

Afterward, they called grandma to thank her.  I stifled laughter as Daniel told his grandmother that he saw “gra-l-ola bars and baby marshmallows and salad” at the grocery store.

cell-phone call to grandma

Tomorrow we start deep cleaning for Thanksgiving.  We still have a few reminders of Halloween to remove, like the decomposing jack-o-lanterns on the porch.  I feel a tad embarrassed, but it’s also interesting to see their carved mouths collapse inward on themselves.  I sort of want to buy them some fake teeth to prop up their lips.

Please reassure me that cooking a whole turkey is no big deal.  I’m confronted by the monstrous bird every time I open the refrigerator.

How was your Saturday?

Friday Fun, Frustration, Frivolity and Food

Preschooler kitchen destruction

Kitchen destruction at the hands of a sick 3-year-old

You’d think that since I had nothing to do today but chase around a 3-year-old who behaved like I had given him mass quantities of speed, I could have completed this post earlier today.  Funny that.  It turns out that 3-year-olds have a finite limit for how long they are willing to have you out of their sight and attention.

Marty, my fellow Listen to Your Mother: Raleigh-Durham co-producer, and I optimistically scheduled a conference call for late this morning so we could discuss the manual, potential venues and our charity.  She had her almost 3-year-old at home with her, and I of course had Daniel.  It was a very amusing video chat as about every 5 minutes, one of us had to look away to shout, “No!  Don’t do that!” or “Hi sweet pea.  Yes, say hello.  Can you return to your movie? Mommy won’t be much longer.”  Somehow we managed to conduct a lot of business over the course of an hour before we both accepted that the natives were restless and signed off.  I’m happy to report, though, that we hope to be able to announce our venue and performance date very soon!

We were supposed to travel to my hometown to have Thanksgiving with my mother and stepfather this weekend, but we cancelled due to Daniel’s illness.  I feel bad about it (because I always feel guilty), but I think we made the right decision.  The last thing we want to do is to have to subject a sick 3-year-old to a different routine and a location other than home.  Or maybe that’s just us.

Hopefully my mother and stepfather will be able to join us for Thanksgiving on Thursday instead, and I have to admit that it is not unwelcome that we have another quiet weekend at home to clean and get ready.  Or just relax before the onslaught of cooking and cleaning begins next week.  Oh, we are hosting by the way.  Perhaps I neglected to mention that?

Daniel is having a lot of fun with family relationships and gender right now.  He occasionally refers to himself as a girl, me as a boy, Jimmy as a girl and the cats, oddly, as girl-boy (for our cat Bit, that’s actually more accurate than he knows because s/he may identify as a girl while being a boy.  Or we might have confused her by referring to her as a “she” early on due to not realizing she was a boy).  He also called his grandmother his sister and his father his sister.  It’s been fun. Imagine if we were Egyptian royalty or polygamous and had explain sister-wives!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, while Daniel was “napping” (read: destroying his room and throwing his stuffed animals everywhere.  Remember that scene from Poltergeist when the researchers from the parapsychology department opened the children’s room and found the items spinning around?  Yeah, that), I succumbed to the allure of searching for Thanksgiving recipes.  If you follow me on Pinterest, I apologize because I think I pinned 20 recipes in a 2-hour period.

We are huge fans of Thanksgiving in this house now that we are adults (and this rumination is partially in response to JJiraffe’s post on Thanksgiving today).  Jimmy and I both liked Thanksgiving as children, but I admit that it was more like, “yeah, yeah, Thanksgiving.  Let’s get on to Christmas!”  Now, though, we have new appreciation for the holiday.  First of all, other than the 4th of July, I can’t think of a more seminal, meaningful holiday to celebrate as a nation.  Also, now that I have much more to do for Christmas than decorate a tree and show up at someone else’s house for dinner, I appreciate a holiday that is about food and fellowship only.  It’s like a chance to exhale before the end of the year.  Finally, we adore Autumn, and Thanksgiving is sort of the culmination of Autumn with its emphasis on the harvest.

Anyway, my massive Pinterest pinning was more wishful thinking than reality because my husband is a creature of habit, and no holiday brings that out more than Thanksgiving.  Over the years, we have fine tuned our menu and recipes, and I, to my chagrin, don’t have many opportunities to experiment because Jimmy really likes what we’ve come up with.  And I’m OK with that.  I have free rein at Christmas, so I can let him have the menu he wants at Thanksgiving.  In truth, we both want to make traditions for our family, and our Thanksgiving menu is one tradition that we have created so far.

So here is a rough outline of our menu:

  • Herbed turkey breasts
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows!)
  • Green beans (leaning towards a bacon-balsamic-shallot sauce)
  • Corn pudding
  • Collard greens (Southern girl FTW!)
  • Cornbread dressing
  • Rolls (frozen; I haven’t mastered yeast yet)

I’m thinking about adding a glazed carrot or butternut squash dish as well.  I don’t make dessert.  I LOVE making desserts, but I find I run out of time and energy, so my mother-in-law usually makes or brings one.

I’ll post next week what exact recipes I use for the potatoes, green beans and corn pudding.

I’m getting really excited.  I’m even thinking about making a decorative arrangement for the table (vs buying some carnations and arranging mini-pumpkins around it and calling it a day).  I’m even pondering a few crafts with Daniel.

So, yay, Thanksgiving!  It took me many years, but I finally appreciate you and want to give you your due.

Notes from a Sick Bed

The sick bed is of course metaphorical because the only chance I have of getting Daniel to stay in one place if I tied him down (Not that I’d do that but I may have fantasized about it once or twice).  That is to say that his spirits remain high and his energy levels impressive despite being sick.

Daniel and I had a nice, low-key day, and the weather must have felt in need of the same because it was rainy and chilly all day.  Perfect November weather!

We watched a few movies (and yes, note the mis-matched pajamas.  Yay!  Something other than Thomas exclusively!  Boo for succumbing to another highly-merchandised character.  You win some; you lose some).

Sick preschooler

He keeps picking at this dry spot on his lip.

Daniel took a leisurely bubble bath and paid it forward by lathering up his bath trains as well as the bathroom floor, walls and me before having lunch.

This turkey dog is most excellent after my bath.

Daniel pretended to nap in his little chair, unfortunately the closest he came to a nap all day. Although I must say that the entertainment that comes over the monitor is comedy gold.

The Great Pretender

The budding architect built a block masterpiece and posed behind his work.

Looks like it will work in the real world, right?

Daniel is feeling better, but he still has some symptoms that prevent him from returning to daycare tomorrow, so on Friday we’ll do it over again.

I bought Daniel a few books on Thanksgiving and giving thanks, and we’ve been reading them nightly for 2 weeks (I’m a tad tired of them).  We’ve been talking to him about the concept of thankfulness and giving thanks, and I think it is starting to sink in a bit.

Last night, I asked him what he was thankful for.  He replied, “My people.”  I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.   Tonight I asked him, and he said, “I’m thankful for Mommys and Daddys” and went on to list the rest of his family, even the ones in heaven although everyone was plural.

Sweet, sweet boy.  Sleep tight, little bear, and we’ll start our weekend early tomorrow.