Living 3000 miles away from our parents (until mine moved) and all of Jonathan’s siblings, means that we don’t host many family holiday meals. In fact, in fourteen years of marriage we have hosted family for 3 Christmas meals (2003, 2005, 2006) and one Easter meal (2001) with my parents, a US Thanksgiving meal (1995) with Jonathan’s parents and youngest sister and now a Canadian Thanksgiving.
One of my major achievements in life is marrying a man who can cook far better than I can. The overwhelming majority of our hospitality over the years – including all past holiday meals – has featured the culinary delights of my talented husband. He brines and roasts turkey, he makes sweet potato casserole and stuffing and dressing and gravy. I cut up vegetables and set the table and serve as sous chef and hostess.
All of those traditions were busted up last Monday. It was Canadian Thanksgiving, and with my sister and her family here we took the opportunity to cook and celebrate a Thanksgiving meal – our first time hosting them for a holiday meal. We also invited our good friend Allison to join us in a meal that she didn’t have to cook herself. With Jonathan’s weekend being Sunday/Monday Monday was his only day to do all the boy things he and Brian had planned, so in a total reversal of roles I cooked Thanksgiving. Okay, my sister helped A LOT (like made the pumpkin pie completely) but Jonathan didn’t so much as touch a vegetable or stir a pot.
In the interest of full disclosure I did have a minor flop and a total fail. Total fails are the worst kind; with a minor flop you can recover, and with a spectacular failure you can all laugh together, but a total fail is just embarrassing without the salve of humor. In my case, I made a squash casserole but forgot the liquid – you know the thing that STEAMS THE SQUASH and makes it edible? Yeah. Without it, the top got all crunchy and the squash was sort of chewy. Ick. Everyone just sort of pushed it around on their plate. I also dumped about 1/2 a cup of cinnamon into the sweet potatoes when I opened the wrong side of the lid, but I was able to recover from that one.
In the afternoon, as I was finishing up some last minute things and periodically basting the turkey, Jonathan, Brian, Melissa and the three children we took to calling the little ones (seen above at the kids table) went out to pick up a few things they needed. While they were at WalMart, my sister happened to notice some fresh flowers marked 50% off. She asked her loving husband, Brian, if any of their grocery stores ever marked down their fresh flowers. In a classic male response, Brian answered, “I don’t know. I’ve never checked.” Melissa just laughed, and bought some flowers and arranged them into this lovely bouquet. Not only did they make a beautiful centerpiece, but they have been a gorgeous reminder of my sister all week whenever I have walked into my kitchen.
There was a brief moment that made us think we weren’t going to have our celebration. During lunch we got discussing the third installment of the latest Batman franchise and Johnny Depp’s role as the Riddler. The family gathered around my laptop as Melissa searched out the trailer. Just as she was finding it, the power blinked and then went out. After a moment, Brian laughed and said “I guess we’re having Chick-Fil-A for Thanksgiving.” As if insulted by the idea, the power returned and behaved itself for the rest of day. At the end of the evening, as we were putting full children to bed, my oldest nephew Zam asked Melissa: “Mom, how come when you looked up the Batman preview it made the power go out.” I love that he’s a conspiracy theorist at 8 years old.
So that is the major milestone of my life right now. One more step in my journey from home making ineptitude to adequacy.