Thursday, November 26, 2009

whirlwind Thanksgiving

It was wonderful.

The day started at ten minutes to five. Waking, no alarm. The first trip to the store. Sodas. Coffee. Bread. Rolls. Salad. The morning cold and windy.

Amanda and her crew were staying at an Inn near the house. Adam, my nephew, was sleeping on the living room couch. The house was silent, dark. I carried the multiple bags in through the garage and made too much noise. Soon Adam showed up at the door to the kitchen, sleepy, bleary eyed. "Coffee?".."Yup"..And so, in the midst of prepping I made a pot of coffee. "Sugar?" he asked and yes, sugar, and milk and eggnog, non-alcoholic, to use as creamer, were set on the counter. "Hungry?" I asked him..."all the time Aunt Ruth"..and so was recited the list and litany of food along with a, "help yourself", but he didn't and there was no time, the bird had to be put in the oven! And it was. The skin on the back was loosened and pats of butter were placed under the skin, along with leaves of sage. And the day began. Poor thing, I put him to work right away, making the Chex mix, helping carry up tables from the basement storage room. Rearranging furniture. And then Ray made an appearance, helping himself to coffee, emptying trash, cleaning the kitty litter box, returning to his room. And then Richa. "Could you pick me up some tomatoes from the store...?" And we could because it was the second trip of the day. Tomatoes, wine and what? and what?..

Then home and Amanda was there, so she, myself and Richa, were all in the kitchen cooking and Richa made a wonderful lentil soup and me, continuing to get in her way..kept returning to the oven, the oven. agh!

Mom and my brother Brian were the first to arrive. Brian, recently divorced, thinner and looking healthier and spouting the nonsense that to be of optimum health and to live the longest he would need to lose another seventy-three pounds. His weight, at six two would be one hundred and fifty five pounds. Nonsense. To live the longest? And pray that in the interim you do not contract a wasting disease..."but its on the internet..multiple sites..." "And what would you want to live so long for?" Its the jewish motherness speaking...especially, oh my lord, if you can't really enjoy it...And all the while, he is cutting pickles and putting together relish trays, which were delish because Amanda and I continued to nibble and Richa was introduced but retreated to her room, smart girl, and I hope we weren't rude, but no time to think of that... And Adam had disappeared, visiting with mother, his grandmother, who, now using a fancy wheeled walker had settled into a comfortable living room chair.
Then Amanda's family came back to the house and I started counting silverware, we were short on spoons. So again, Amanda and I drove to the store (5 blocks away) for spoons and an additional three plates and, and..another fifteen dollars. Then back to the house where plates and glasses were soaking and Brian was finishing up the relish trays and Dylan was in the living room and Ray was visiting. Then the remainder of the St. Louis contingent arrived. Linda, looking frazzled and carrying hot pies, and her husband Matt and their daughter, my neice, Hallie with her boyfriend John and their baby Genevieve (so cute with her pale blond curls and gray eyes), and Noah, Hallie's twin brother, "Where's your wife?"...and then our little brother Arthur arrived with Patti, his wife, and their three children, whew! Art brought the mashed potato varieties (garlic, plain and horseradish), and somewhere in this Amanda had returned to the store one last time and returned and she was almost in tears when she accidentally mixed the horseradish and garlic mashed potatoes (Amanda!, Arthur joked), and there I was, the big sister, placating, soothing and with ten arms, plating food, carving the turkey, etc. etc. Kids get drinks and find your places. The buffet was set up in the kitchen and diningroom. Fourteen people sat at the dining table. The kids had their own table in their own dining area. My mother had a seat at the end of the table and looked lost. What was she thinking?
Tell Richa we are eating. And so, my brother went downstairs to let her know. He had brought an artisanal bread and it went magnificently with her soup. Did we say grace? It is an unusual thing to not say grace, but I don't remember it...
And there we all were. Four generations in one place. Eating, talking. It was a bustle. A group had congregated with plates in the living room, sitting, eating, talking, watching the football game, half-watching the football game Green Bay and Detroit, sports and politics.

The day which had started out cold and overcast turned sunny by afternoon yet remained cold. Patti took a small contingent of the kids down the street to the park. Few cars passed through the neighborhood. Neighbors were out walking dogs, stretching. Hallie and John walked down the street with Genevieve. After a short time they all returned with rosy cheeks.

Then it was pie, coffee, tea. And dishes. Amanda and I started dishes, then took a break, then Brian pitched in, then..people started packing up to go home. Was it over so fast? Noah had a dinner to go to with his in-laws. John and Hallie and Genevieve were driving back for his family. Linda gathered her pie dishes, but left some (thank you, thank you). Hugs and kisses and come back soon and we'll see you's and the first group was gone. And Richa had passed up the stairs what seemed like hours ago..and was gone. And Adam was gone.
Clayton and Spencer packed the chairs back into Mom's van and Brian packed up his things and I cleaned her antique peach bowl and placed the spiced peaches back into the jar. And then before we knew it she was standing at the side of the van and Spencer and Stewart were both in the back seat of the van and I was helping her in the van and she was cold and "Brian, Mom's cold". He got in the van, I closed down the back door and then Amanda and Clayton and Arthur and Patti were gathering children and things and the "see you in St. Joseph"...yes, see you in St. Joseph. We are the halfway point and half the group was driving up to St. Joseph to visit with Sam and Tawny, back from Colorado with their new baby and to visit with Susan, back from her eastern seaboard home.
Then, they were all gone.
And the house was quiet.
Chuck was sleeping in his room. Ray was upstairs on his computer. Dylan lay sleeping in his room.
I returned to the kitchen to clean, put away. The turkey carcass was broken down and placed in two separate pots for simmering, to remove all remainder of meat from the bone and to make a fine broth. Fresh thyme and sage was placed in the water.
Then, I took a nap. For a blessed two hours I slept, waking just before seven p.m.
The house smelled like turkey. The pots were checked and Chuck was home with his friend Ethan and a girl-friend of Ethan's. "Haven't seen you for awhile". ..and we visited. Chuck built up the fire to a nice blaze.
Ethan is a friend of Chucks who had been a fixture at our house. He was in the car the night that Chuck had his accident and went to the ICU. Ethan, thank goodness, wasn't harmed. That was three years ago and Chuck had been driving. T-boned, it totalled the Avalon. But here they both sat and Ethan trusted Chuck enough to let him drive. Ethan was a reminder of other days and it was good to see him again.
Ray passed through, finishing off the lentil soup returning to his room and computer.
Dylan came downstairs and we watched a movie.
Chuck went out with his friends.
The turkey pot finished and cooled and was removed from the bone, the broth placed in the refrigerator. Dylan rented another movie and I went to bed, it was after midnight.

"Very handy day Thursday, keeps Wednesday and Friday from colliding..." from the film Dean Spanley.

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