25 people came for Thanksgiving dinner last night. My husband is one of 12 kids, so we had a huge bunch of Nguyens over, along with my brother. I had been planning the dinner for weeks. Not only was I feeding the whole gang, but we also were going to have a 2nd, Vietnamese dinner. The in-laws were bringing that, but it meant figuring out how to fit it all in our small, 1927 Dutch Colonial Revival kitchen.
A week ago I cleaned out the refrigerator, throwing away every questionable condiment and lost left-over. I took all the shelves out and washed them down. The fridge was basically empty leading up to the big day, so I had plenty of room to brine my turkey in it.
By Monday, I had done all the shopping: 21.5 lb fresh turkey, 10 lbs of potatoes. 4 lbs of corn. 5 lbs of asparagas, 2 turnips, 2 lbs of carrots, leeks, fresh thyme, cranberries. All week long I slowly and methodically prepared dishes. Cranberry sauce first, then mashed turnips, then squaw corn. My biggest priority was to enjoy the process and not get frazzled.
Because I was ahead of schedule, I was able to get to an interfaith service at my former UU church on Tuesday evening. It was a strange and wonderful thing. Not only was Steve there, but so were Fr. Ray and Fr. Rich, from two of the churches I had recently visited. As I walked in, I gave Steve a hug. Then Fr. Ray. By the time I got to Fr. Rich, he said "boy, you know everyone, don't you!" I guess I HAVE made the rounds, in Olneyville, at least.
The service itself was fine. I was pretty emotional though, since it was the first time I had sat in the Sanctuary since I left in September. I cried through the whole thing, especially when Fr. Ray passed bread out to the congregation to share. Imagine, a kind of communion!
Then, on Wednesday night, I went to S. Stephens for the Rosary, Evening Prayer and Evening Mass. I was delighted to run into my Director, Fr. P. We sat in the same row and said the rosary together... took communion side by side. It was just lovely.
And finally, yesterday, the big turkey day. We placed an extra table in the living room and had seating for around 18 or so, plus extra seats scattered around. The tradition of this family is to serve ourselves, and sometimes eat in shifts when necessary. We had the traditional American meal first, complete with a prayer of Thanks to God for all our blessings. Then, a few hours later, the pots of Vietnamese beef noodle soup (pho) and spring rolls and barbecued ribs came out.
At the end of the night, my husband showed pictures of his trip to Vietnam last August.
So much to be grateful for. In-laws I love. Amazing food. Our health. Our wonderful family. Our cozy little house. God. It's all that....