How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great, thanks! Well, to tell the truth, it was just okay. No, it was tolerable. Yes, that's the word, tolerable. And totally predictable.
One day, I'm going to have the Thanksgiving nervous breakdown I've surely earned after all these years. But considering all the family traditions I'm bound to follow on the fourth Thursday of November, I don't see it happening any time soon.
Actually, my most recent experience was easy compared to some. In years past, Doug and I played host to our kids and all, or some, of the following: boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, children and chums who couldn't afford to fly to Miami (where their own parents had escaped … I mean retired) for the holiday.
A few times, we also welcomed our parents, our siblings and their spouses, and their spouses' siblings, and all the offspring, and the offspring's friends, who didn't want to spend the weekend in the dorm. We've had some wild Thanksgivings.
Of course, for crowds like that, families take turns hosting, and no one person does the cooking. We all pitch in. Well, the women do. The men watch football and the kids, including the adult ones, just keep asking when dinner will be ready.
This year, just my kids and their significant others came, and that was plenty. After three days of cooking, it took me 15 minutes to get the various platters, serving dishes, and bowls heaped with food to the table. By the time I sat down, the only things left were some turkey skin, and not the nice, crispy kind, some marshmallow stuck to the rim of the yam casserole dish, and half of a croissant.
As is family tradition, it fell to me to get the dinner conversation ball rolling. Shouting to be heard over the sound of chewing and forks clinking on plates, I began with: "So! What's new, everyone?"
The traditional responses ensued, upon which I lavished all my attention, understanding, and good advice. That led to another family tradition — me apologizing for pretty much everything I said so they'll stop yelling at me.
Tradition also governs the pace of the meal. When I notice two of my adult kids eyeing the last dinner roll, their eyes quickly shifting from it to the gravy boat and back again, their hands ready to spring into action, I put the coffee on.
By now everything that had once sat upon the "groaning board" is inside those seated around the table. And they're groaning.
That's the moment I always offer pie, because the look in their eyes, which pleads, "Not another morsel or I'll burst!" is priceless. (After all that cooking, I deserve some fun.)
But our Thanksgiving traditions don't end there. Every year, on Black Friday, I buy sliced turkey for Doug's beloved "leftover turkey" sandwiches. That's because it's also a tradition not to let him know that last of our 23-pound bird went home with the kids the night before, along with any leftover stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and succotash. Sometimes, they even ask for the carcass so they can make turkey soup. And I'm just a mom who can't say no.
As he bites into that first post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, Doug always marvels, "However did you slice the turkey so thin?"
I always smile and say, "My little secret!" (Mine, and the lady working the meat slicer behind the deli counter, that is.)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun