My most cherished holiday has come and gone. I love every aspect of Thanksgiving – starting with the planning for next year that begins almost literally the day afterward, on to the ingredient shopping, and all the food preparations. Most certainly a highlight is the “Wednesday night prep” party! With some 15 good soldiers coming over to lend their talents, we somehow manage to set the tables and chairs for the 85 people planning to attend and peel potatoes, dice onions, chop bread, snap green beans, and all the rest of the prep activities. I as host see it as my job to ensure the fine workers have plenty of food and drink on hand to power them through their efforts. A 14-pound smoked brisket and 5-pound salmon did the trick, along with numerous bottles of wine, and later, scotch. By midnight, we had managed to knock out my large to-do list and get the four 20-pound turkeys into the oven. Then, I could sit and relax with those remaining and enjoy a nightcap before I fell into bed for the next day’s madness.
Thanksgiving day itself starts off with the rude awakening of the alarm that always seems to come too early. The first thing to do is to check on the turkeys that had been quietly roasting since midnight, then fire up the smoker for the 23-pound turkey I’d prepared the night before. And from there, the day literally takes off and goes full hilt until the meal is served at 2 pm. A couple of good friends came early in the morning to help, thank you Katrina Benedict and mom Kathleen! Then, Debbie Glenn and her four kids came up from Conroe, Texas – and dang it, but they know how to get a party started! Debbie kept everyone’s champagne glass filled as we hustled through the seemingly never-ending list of items left to prepare. My daughter Gabi and friend Sara managed to carve all the turkeys, while Ian Benedict once again got pressed into gravy detail (he’s good at it!). Sherri Elliott-Yeary found herself mixing butter and sour cream into the 40 pounds of mashed potatoes, while Morag McColl was on green bean roasting duty. Debbie Glenn spiced up the candied yams, and Katrina Benedict totally saved me by roasting up my red beet dish for me! Amazingly, one by one, everything made it to the buffet line – and dinner was served.
As the guests lined up to fill their plates, a quiet wave of gratitude washed over me – all these people have chosen to spend their day with me and my family. The house was filled with the hubbub of laughter, the clanking of forks on plates, and merry conversation. It was the sound of an abundant Thanksgiving with the ring of warm camaraderie. Children giggled, and some adults laughed heartily. The swirl of aromas wafted from the kitchen and buffet areas. We all squeezed in next to each other along long tables designed to include and connect everyone. Mini toasts circulated around the room, and a general feeling of contentment was present. Big sigh – could I possibly ask for a better day?