A Really Happy Thanksgiving

Things I Learned This Thanksgiving:

1. As I had mostly expected, and sincerely hoped, my family and my husband’s family are able to eat, chat and laugh together companionably for 5 hours. Lovely!

2. I need more serving forks.

3. I didn’t need to start the ham two days ahead. Next time I make it, I can marinate it in the fridge the day before Thanksgiving, make the glaze the night before, prep it to go in the morning, and leave my extremely early-rising husband directions on preheating the stove and sticking in to cook the morning of. The ham was tasty this year, but I think it would be even better this way. . . not to mention easier.

Getting the marinade ready, Tuesday night

4. Next year, the skins will stay on the potatoes. It’s more nutritious anyway.  Or I am buying a fabulous new paring knife.

5. Real whipped cream is always better than Cool Whip. I knew this, actually, but it was really brought home when real whipped cream with a touch of cinnamon elevated my every-day apple crisp to warm, melting delectability.

6. Put the most adventurous cat upstairs before I start taking food out to the sideboard.Not as she starts investigating the turkey.

7. A sideboard and proper dining room table makes my dining room look so much better, and make entertaining comfortable. And now I can store my silver, china and specialty stemware in it, to free up needed kitchen cabinet space. Ease of access = happier, less frazzles hostess.

This year's table.

8. Don’t open up your grandmother’s silver box the morning of a holiday and expect to find the silverware ready to go. . .  even in a supposedly tarnish-proof box.

9. Buy some more large freezer ziploc bags, lest you find yourself putting the large turkey carcass you are saving for soup stock into a large decorative copper pot and sticking in the freezer, simply because there’s no room in the fridge and you have to keep it from the cats over night.

10. Cute aprons aren’t just a kitschy vintage trend; they were born from practicality, and I am grateful I had a cute one.

11. The intermingling scents of lemon oil, baked ham, apples, cinnamon and tea are what all those candle companies try to emulate, and (while I adore a good scented candle), they simply don’t compare.

This is the third Thanksgiving dinner I have hosted, and the largest. I was really busy getting ready for it, and that was without a full-time job. I hope to be employed next year, and if so, I will start getting the house ready much sooner. I had the luxury (well, without the income) of two days of full-time prep for it.  I polished and scrubbed, baked and reduced, hauled furniture and crossed my fingers over social compatibility — and it went off with no disasters and much enjoyment. I have a clean house, a fridge full of delicious leftovers and a feeling of accomplishment. Not to mention a happy and satiated husband tucked into bed, and the feeling that I am creating my own family traditions to carry me down the years.  Which is a feeling I never thought I would have and it is unexpected, warm and fulfilling.

Even with being on a tight budget, I look forward to this holiday season. I certainly wouldn’t want to do this on a regular basis, but I enjoy occasional special entertainments; good thing, as I volunteered us for New Year’s Eve and also my yearly gift-exchange party with my circle of girlfriends. Busy? Oh, yes. But happy? Amazingly so.

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