|We set up the table decorations the night before.|
Seeing as I spent so much of the month of November planning for and talking about Thanksgiving, I felt I should at least tell you about how ours went!
Friends, it was lovely. We had divided the cooking between the three "units" of the family that would be coming, so Nick and I were just responsible for the turkey and the ham (yup, we have both), as well as the stuffing and a vegetable side. We started brining the turkey and thawing the ham on Tuesday night, which is also when I made the stuffing too. I'd read that you can freeze stuffing before you bake it, so I tried it and it worked beautifully! And this meant that the only cooking we really had to do on Thanksgiving day was putting things in the oven at the right time and temperature, which was really, really nice.
|The kids watching the Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade.|
We started the day on a super classy note by taking the kids out to breakfast at McDonald's so they could burn off some energy in the play area. And so they wouldn't mess up the table we had decorated the night before! Then we headed home and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned until the house was much cleaner than it had any right to be on a Thursday.
|Heroically slaving away in the kitchen. |
(Bottom right corner of this photo brought to you by Apple.)
After that Nick's parents showed up and were quickly mauled by our children. Espen had been glued to the window for the past two hours asking when they were going to get here, and Gwen went hurtling to the front door squealing "Papa!" at the merest mention of Grandma or Grandpa, so it was a very happy reunion. Especially because Grandma and Grandpa came bearing My little Ponies and dinosaurs!
|Tadah! The table is set and ready to go. Plastic water bottle photo bomb courtesy of the kids!|
And at this point we snacked, we chatted, we watched the Thanksgiving Day parade (and Gwen absolutely losing her mind every time the Hello Kitty balloon showed up) and mentally patted our own backs for somehow managing to enjoy the day with our family, and not just running around the kitchen like the crazy people all day long. I even found the time to change into a dress and brush my hair, which made a nice change from what I had been cleaning in all morning.
|And a low artsy angle shot.|
Uncle Cody and aunt Becky joined us. We snacked and chatted some more. I put the finishing touches on the table, and then those of us that were cooking got down to serious business for the last hour or so before it was time for dinner. Our kitchen is not a big kitchen, but somehow, when you're family and just happy to be together, you instinctively know the steps of that tricky dance that allows everyone the room they need. We said dinner was going to be at four o'clock, and at four ten, we sat gathered around the table. A prayer was said, gratitude was felt, and then we began our feast.
|Espen and Gwen, ready to dig into their Thanksgiving dinner.|
A fellow non-American asked me recently why it is that I love Thanksgiving so much, and this is the reason why: for years I watched my mother-in-law plan and prepare and cook and clean for this one day. She would always joke that it took three days to cook for Thanksgiving dinner, and only 20 minutes to eat it. But I saw all of the love that she put into the creation of that meal, and in the gathering of her family. Every last detail had been anticipated and considered because everything she did was for someone who would appreciate it. I saw the love felt by her children as they cleared their calendar and traveled long distances to be together for this holiday. My husband's family, and especially my mother-in-law taught me that Thanksgiving is not about food, or football, or parades or black Friday shopping. Thanksgiving is about family, about spending time with your loved ones and offering them your very best. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, yes, but it's also an expression of love for the people that you sit down and share this special meal with. It's a very simple thing, and easy to overlook if you fall into the trap of approaching the day with a "gobble till you wobble" attitude, but if you stop for a moment and look at the people that surround you, you will see all of the love that has gone into the creation of this meal, this moment, this shared experience, and you will know that that love was for you.
And that is why I love Thanksgiving.