For the first time in several years, the OctaTribe is doing Thanksgiving with just the ten of us.
Actually, the nine of us with 1 of 8 in France.
But we're going to put the laptop on the dining table and Skype her in during the meal. So she'll be with us in a cyber-sort-of-way.
Back in our Oklahoma days, Thanksgiving for many members of the extended family and friends was at my house. While my mother thinks this may be reason to question if I'm actually blood related to her or not, I love to entertain.
My mother does not. It gives her mental hives.
So I would fire up the oven and scrub the floors and put all the extra leaves in the dining table and then some.
Once we moved away from Okie Land and went to the island, we still managed to lure family and friends to come down for T-day.
And they've even shown up several years in our new adopted hometown.
Last year was a blast, with my youngest brother's family here and 1 of 8's The Boy.
But this year, it's just us. Just the ten of us. And while I do want to keep things low stress and completely focused on just being together and enjoying some good food, there are some strategies I like to keep in mind:
Break out the good stuff. Even if it's 'just' your immediate family.
Why is it we are so much more willing to go to far more trouble and glitz when 'company' is coming? It pinches my heart a bit when my kids see me going to extra effort on the house or on a dish and say, "Oh, who's coming over?" I want them to know that they are the most special people in my life. So pull out that nice china and get out the real napkins. Send that subtle message that you'll go the extra mile for the crew living in your house, not just the folks who drive over.
Take a deep breath and decide that burned gravy is not a big deal.
While I want to serve my family with the same kind of care I would show company, I don't want to let the day spiral when things don't turn out exactly right. In the grand scheme of building family memories, a dish getting ruined is simply fodder for laughter and hilarity at the next Thanksgiving celebration. It's not worth ditching the day when a dish goes south or a plate gets smashed.
Take your time.
So the mashed potatoes got a little cold and the dressing is a tad overdone. You're probably not a professional caterer and I certainly am not. The tastiest dish I can offer my family tomorrow is relaxation, laughter, joy and ease. The odds that we'll get everything to the table at the perfect temperature and consistency are slim. And that's why God created microwaves.
I've written on it before, but it strikes me again how in American culture, we aren't too good at lingering. Barely has someone finished their green bean casserole and we whisk away their dish, ending in twenty minutes a meal that took us four days to make. Sit. Linger. Laugh. Listen. Chill.Out.Mama.
I'm off to go turn my recipe boxes upside down to find my illusive sweet potato casserole recipe. And then I've got to perch precariously on a kitchen stool and get my china down from cabinet nether-regions. But I'll probably head back to my computer from time to time and read this to myself again. I need the reminder.
Good china. Real napkins. Take a breath. Take the time. Linger.