Fall has officially arrived and I’m ecstatic! The time of year I look forward to. The weather turns down a few notches, the fall fairs and crafts shows begin and it’s time for great food and family get-togethers. Can’t get much better!
And so it was that I hosted Thanksgiving this year for my side of the family. Each year it’s getting harder and harder for any one of us girls to host a huge meal. We each try to take a turn for either Thanksgiving, Christmas and sometimes Easter, but we all have our excuses or reasons for not really making a large meal for 14 or so people. One sister has a growing family but tries to take her turn, one sister is struggling with fibromyalgia but tries to take her turn, one sister with two adult children takes her turn, one sister is unable as she lives in a small apartment, one sister isn’t really into cooking huge meals, and I’ve been taking my turn but am now starting to struggle as I’ve developed bursitis and hope it doesn’t flare up when it’s my turn to host. All things considered, each and every family get-together has been pretty damn good and lots of fun. We all try to bring a dish whenever someone else is hosting and we’ve yet to have a bad meal – with only once exception (see below!).
So it went that Nat and I hosted Thanksgiving yesterday (Sunday). We prepared as much as we could ahead of time – drove to Balls’ Falls for the Heritage & Craft Festival, bought groceries before the shops got too busy, ordered a marble cake, and brined the turkey on Friday – picked up the cake, cooked the Turkey, made the Yorkshire Pudding mix, prepared the stuffing, made chocolate-covered Marshmallows, made the gravy and set the table on Saturday – sliced and warmed up the turkey and ham; baked the Yorkshire Puddings, mashed potatoes, cooked the vegetables, sliced the bread, heated the gravy and dressing and welcomed our guests by 4:00 pm. Whew!!
The Balls Falls Heritage & Craft Show was pretty much the same as other years, but the morning was perfect – a great Fall day and I really wanted to have a look around. Looking for a couple of specific items for the house I came across a craft woman from Quebec who made little village houses out of recycle materials – wood, tin and little doodads found around a home or workshop. They were perfect for the look I was going for in our kitchen and I picked up two of them. The other item I was looking for is starting to become an enigma – a set of yellow canisters. Having looked everywhere on earth and the internet, I’ve yet to find the ones I want so the hunt continues. So, after a walk-about for just over an hour, Nat and I climbed that bejesus hill up to the parking lot and headed home for lunch and to get on with the preparations for Thanksgiving
As things worked out, Nat and I were glad so much was done ahead of time. As tired as we were when we hit the hay, it was all worth it, as we had time to enjoy our guests throughout the evening without hiding in the kitchen trying to get things done. The only disappointment for me was the Yorkshire Pudding. Normally I bake them in the proper Yorkshire Pudding pans, but as the batch only makes 6, I decided to bake them in cupcake tins and they didn’t rise like the huge mushrooms I expected. When you broke them open they weren’t hollow to allow all that good gravy to ooze in. To me, they looked and tasted like a bland, flat, sunken muffin. So much for whimsy!! Nat had his disappointment too, the gravy wouldn’t thicken up and was a little too runny for our liking. No complaints from the family and I’m assuming their criticism was left for the car ride home. But that’s okay, I was just to glad to see everyone that nothing else mattered.
Bonnie made a valiant attempt and for her convenience I sat her close to the dining room hallway so she could make a break for it if she wanted to lay back in the recliner and rest her weary bones. Naturally she’s lost a lot of weight after her surgery, but she’s looking so much better from when I saw last in the hospital. As she’s still not up to grocery shopping and Gail’s been doing as much as she can, I gave Bonnie a care package of left-over turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. She’ll only need to warm them up and she’s good to go.
We missed Claudia, Darby and Tyler. As Tyler was home from Chicago for a few days (he’s in training for work at one of the new Target stores coming to Canada), we completely understood that Claudia wanted to spend some time alone with her family alone. It’s that time in her life where they’re flying the coup and who can blame her for making as many memories as she can.
Zach and Zoe, I’m afraid were really bored. They were missing their two comrades-in-arms – Darby and Tyler – but made the best of it with their Aunt Michele. I gave them the balance of the chocolate-covered Marshmallows to take home for a treat, along with a small goodie bag for their Dad, Daryl, who was home with a migraine.
Keeping in mind that we all love our oldest sister, Gail, there’s only been one dish that we all agree was a major disaster at one of her meals. We could tell she had worked so hard with everything but as luck would have it – and to this day we’re not quite sure what happened – but the mashed potatoes ran onto your plate like cauliflower soup. They looked pretty decent sitting in that huge serving dish, but once you tried to ladle some onto your plate it wasn’t pretty. Not paying particular attention at the time and as the meal was “family-style”, Daryl gave me a poke at the table and whispered as he passed me the potatoes “I wouldn’t if I were you” with a silly grin on his face and trying hard not to catch Gail’s attention. I’m sure Gail had to have noticed how her potatoes had turned out but saved as much grace as she could by mentioning “I think the potatoes may have been a little over-mashed”. So let’s all be honest, as we’ve all done it, on the car ride home the little snickers began to flow. To this day it’s a tradition that any one of us will offer to bring the mashed potatoes to one of Gail’s meals. Every family has a little “inside” joke, and I think this is ours’. Love you, Gail, and you really are a good cook – this was just one of your bad days!
This is the year I think we should all start thinking about eating out on special occasions. I truly believe we’ve all earned the rest, we’ve all had our turns and we’re all getting older by the year, along with those “little” medical problems creeping up. Plus it’s not fair that any of the younger sisters that are much healthier have that burden and expense forced upon them. Certainly getting closer to the time where we should at least be discussing the same.
After a great time and (I’m bragging here) a pretty good meal, Nat and I cleaned up what was the most important, put on our jammies and sat in front of the TV for the rest of the night. It goes without saying that Nat’s head was deep within his chest, snoozing, by 9:30 pm. I have to admit, I wasn’t close behind. My feet and hip were throbbing and I ended up hitting the hay earlier than usual. I was out like a light!
Monday morning arrived and after sleeping in by only 15 minutes (whoop!) I dragged myself out of bed, tried to work out the kinks by walking into the living room, kissed hubby good morning, took my pills and sat down in the recliner hoping that what was left in the dining room would be cleaned up by the little fairies in the Disney Movies. No such luck, but what the hell, the exercise would work out the rest of the kinks left-over from the day before. We decided not to do anything or go anywhere today, so we cleaned-up and removed the extra leaves from the dining table and promptly returned to our recliners where we worked on crosswords and a golf game on the iPad, and discussed how yesterday went now and again for the rest of the day. What a life, eh??
Tuesday we’ve decided to drive into Niagara Falls to get a birthday gift for Laura whose birthday is the end of the week, find a sparkly top for me for the Rangers’ Golf Banquet this Saturday and then decide to see what day we can have the kids over to celebrate Laura’s 48th. That’s a whole other dilemma that I won’t even begin to get into!!