Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010: It is What it Is

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year. It wasn't the first time, by any means, but this year, to be honest, it was bittersweet for me. I had to come to terms with the fact that my parents are aging and my mom lacks the stamina to do what she has always done so well. She always used her best china, prettiest goblets, and matching silver. She always balanced proteins with starches and vegetables. She always had beds ready for everyone to nap on, the house clean and stocked, and things for little kids to do.

Yet, I am thankful for how she prepared to "pass the baton" to her daughters.

And I'm really thankful for the help I got, because I could somewhat sympathize with being "not quite full tilt" healthwise this year. My kids did a lot of the cleaning before and clean-up afterward and everyone helped in some way with the meal. Sarah cheerfully did all the grocery shopping, too, which was my most dreaded feat. I struggle to give thanks for that chore, so being thankful for her willingness was easy!

That said, it was good to have my parents and sister Jill here as well as Ben's girlfriend, Deirdra, and her mother, Carabeth. They brought three of their family favorites: pumpkin soup, pineapple cheese casserole, and green bean bundles (which remind you of little green logs sprinkled with brown sugar and wrapped in bacon. YUM).

Sarah and I decorated the table together. I repurposed a brown shower curtain (clean, of course!) atop a cream tablecloth. She used a mix of everyday dishes and assorted cloth napkins.

Pay no mind to the place setting that's missing a napkin. I had whisked away that one napkin to iron, then took a picture of the table, and returned the napkin (un-ironed, too tired for that nonsense. It is what it is. Besides, my older boys remind me, "They're just for wiping your mouth on anyway." The youngest insists we don't need napkins at all because that's what your arms are for.)

The funniest memory was of our Thanksgiving tree. Every year we send a child out to the yard to find a bare stick with twiggy branches. Normally the branches are fairly evenly distributed on left and right, up and down the tree. This year, though, Joel presented us with one that had a shall I say this?... asymmetric look to it. (Scroll down a ways for exhibit.) That's okay; normally I coordinate birthday cups and plates to celebrate my dad's close-to-T'giv Day b'day, but this year I had a cheap sleeve of Boardwalk fries cups. It is what it is.

Sarah also made the turkey this year. Tasted mahvelous. She wanted the experience, and also claimed dibs on making two kinds of sweet potatoes and tens pounds of mashed potatoes. She found all her own recipes and didn't want my help. More power to her. Less work for me!

My mom made German chocolate cupcakes for my dad's birthday.

Add to that two pies and some

ice cream, and it's no wonder we

are still waddling today.

See what I mean about the Thanksgiving tree?
The chronology of these pictures? I am sorry, but the formatting keeps screwing up and I am not messing with it anymore. It is what it is!

I made Paul's favorite kind of pie--coconut cream-- but this year I found a five-star rated recipe that we all just loved. Very rich, and takes a half hour to prepare, but it's worth the effort. (I made it the day before and let it chill overnight.)

Joel helped make deviled eggs as appetizers. (Note: good protein for when hunger starts to take over and the food or guests, or both are running late.) I got a kick out of watching him getting a kick out kick out of watching steam rise.

The best thing of the day came at about 11 a.m. (an hour before guests came) when I was in the middle of chopping celery, my mind still abuzz with the to-do list. Ben (my 22 year old) slipped his around around my shoulder and said, "I just wanted to tell you, Mom, that I'm really proud of the way you're handling stress this year." I wanted to cry, but I laughed and hugged him back when he said that. "Thanks" I said. "But don't you remember my meltdown just two nights ago?" His words were like "apples of gold in a setting of silver."

We always celebrate my dad's birthday at Thanksgiving. He's 76 this year. If I'd thought about it, I would've reminded him of my happy memories when he and I played in a community college theatre production of "The Music Man" when I was in fifth grade. You remember "76 Trombones"?

At one point Daddy started telling a story, and Mama added a detail, and then he said lovingly, "Why don't you finish telling it, Brenda? Your voice is so much nicer to listen to than mine."

Carabeth: "Well, isn't that the sweetest thing I've ever heard!"
Jill: "Yes, it is sweet. But it's soooooo sappy!"

Another memory: We called my other sister, Andrea, who was celebrating Thanksgiving with Aunt Linda. Or was supposed to be. Aunt Linda was too sick with a cold. It's Andrea's birthday today (my dad's best gift the year she was born) and we all sang "Happy Birthday" on speakerphone. She was touched.

Another:The "collegers" at the table knew more about how Sarah Palin's daughter performed in "Dancing with the Stars" than they do about who might run for office in 2012. Aaah. For shame. But it is what it is.
The pictures I took of everything on the day aren't so great. I regret my fatigue, tuckered out, too tired to stand up and take lovely, thoughtful pictures. So this batch of pictures? It is what it is. What I really wanted was a picture of our whole family together, but was afraid to ask. Too tired to deal with the "oh, MOM!" and the composing of very tall people next to very short people that creates a challenge for the amateur photographer.

Here's to many more happy Thanksgivings.


TAB said...

Your Thanksgiving sounds wonderful. Lovely. Touching. And well worth it. It definitely is what it is and I'm sure no one truly cares if there's anything "amiss" in the planning. The gathering together of our loved ones is important enough.
Thanks for the great re-cap of your Thanksgiving. I totally enjoyed it!

Kelly said...

Sounds like a great day, Zo. And "it is what it is" is my family's motto! ;)

Rachelle said...

you are amazing! Hope you are winding down after the big Thanksgiving to-do.

You table looks gorgeous.

zo said...

Thanks, everyone.

Laurie said...

Oh Zoanna! I don't know why this post made me so emotional, but here I am holding back tears! Yes, it is what it is and that is a good phrase to keep in mind as we gather with family (flesh and blood OR family in Christ!)! I felt welcomed to your home (I sense true hospitality) and your photos ARE nice! Sarah's enthusiasm and help is heart warming! Blessings as you continue in "thanksgiving" and graciously living in "what it is"!

Amy said...

I loved this glimpse into your life :) happy (belated) thanksgiving!