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A friend recently wrote “I so wish that I could just turn my brain off sometimes.” Can I get a big AMEN. Wouldn’t it be nice to just say “ok, I need a break… I think I’m just gonna park this thinkbus and go do something else.” And truthfully, at times I’ve been able to do that. I’ve been able to distract myself with projects or new hobbies or Maggie (always a great diversion). But it never lasts and then I end up right back in the Barrel-O-Thoughts.

Jennifer and I had a wonderful interaction today. You know when there’s been something lurking below the surface (or not below the surface, in our case) and it’s a nagging relational hangnail that just won’t go away? Jennifer and I have been there for a while now, and today, we faced it. We’re sisters – it’s so easy to just assume that it’ll all work out because, yep, it probably will. But it feels so much better to just have it all gutted and scrubbed clean… we talked (yelled), we cried, we hugged, we said loveyouloveyouloveyou at the end of the evening. And I do love her so. My sisters – both of them – are priceless.

Thanksgiving dinner is looming… I’ve heard other people talking about it, but haven’t realized just how close it is until this afternoon. Jennifer, Sue and I are doing dinner completely solo this year for the first time. The Great Family Invasion of 2008 has been diverted for another year, so our guest list is holding at about 10 people. Sue and I made a tentative menu this morning based mainly on the traditional “staple” dishes. We’re already starting to veer away from the tried-&-true though… Mama’s not here, we’re not Mama, and there’s no point in pretending. As I was clicking through recipes online this afternoon, the enormity of Mama’s leaving hit me yet again. This is it. This is all there is. This is our second Thanksgiving without her and the first we’ve actually celebrated (last year was a seafood dinner overlooking the Pacific Ocean). And this is what it’s going to be from now on. “Making the best of it” kind of takes on a whole new meaning when you’re facing the holidays sporting a gaping emotional hole placed neatly in the center of your familial unit.

But back to a less depressing matter… the Thanksgiving menu. See? This is me focusing elsewhere.

  • Turkey, of course – to roast or to fry? I’ve heard great things about fried turkey… that it’s moister, juicier, just better. Bobby and I have a huge pot that we use for low-country boil that would work perfectly. And I found this recipe that looks tasty and not too difficult. So maybe we’ll try it?
  • Dressing – traditional or something new? I found a recipe for Cornbread & Oyster Dressing, which sounds quite tasty to me. My dad had some long, long ago and has talked about it since… I’m pretty sure he would be in favor of throwing a few oysters in there.
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Sweet Potato Souffle
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Roasted Asparagus or Spinach Greens
  • Steamed Cabbage
  • Pickled Corn – my grandmother is the only person in the world that makes it (I think) and we only have one jar. One tablespoon for each person.
  • Rolls
  • Pasta Salad
  • Ambrosia
  • Veggies & Dip
  • Pumpkin Pie/Ice Cream
  • Apple Strudel

I’ve always been very into fancy napkin-folding and such, but I haven’t quite decided on the centerpiece/napkin rings/etc for this year. I had all these lofty plans of making a beautiful holiday tablecloth and napkins – even bought the pattern on sale a few months ago. But my sewing flame burned out prematurely, so I’m working with what I already have. We shall see… Is anyone else out there into the whole formal china, crystal, fancy-schmancy napkin-folding thing for Thanksgiving dinner?

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