Thanksgiving Eve

It’s the night before the night before Thanksgiving and the preparations are well under way. Tonight I assembled a simple wet brine for the turkey, roasted and pureed the fennel and onions for the mashed potatoes, and made the base for the three herb butter. Ben prepared the salad dressing and washed all the dishes that accrued during my kitchen frenzy—thank you Ben! Sitting next to a crackling fire, I’m thinking about gratitude and everything I have to be thankful for. Among them are Ben, the fire, my dog Tulip, and a fridge so full that I had to store the brine on the back porch. It’s a metaphor for my life—the goodness is overflowing.

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My parents fly in tomorrow night. It’s the first time I’m hosting them for Thanksgiving and I asked them to contribute a rather unorthodox item to the dinner—a centerpiece. Through the years my mom has used her creativity and good taste to set a stunning table for the holidays. From place settings to table runners to hand-assembled centerpieces, she does it all. I remember as a kid we had this enormous heavy wooden table that was too big for our dining room. It had to be placed at an angle so the chairs would fit. My mom would stay up the night before and decide between various linens and rearrange the assortment of items she planned to use to decorate, many of which were pretty branches or leaves she found in our yard. She wouldn’t go to bed until the table was perfectly set. This memory makes me smile and recall the anticipation I felt when I saw the table ready for our holiday meal. Like a beautifully wrapped present, it signified that this day was special.

As I look forward to time around the table with my family, I have some practical tips to share so you can keep your spirit of gratitude despite the fuss and frenzy. There are three things I’m trying out this year that I think will work in my favor. First, I decided to stock up on basics during my grocery run. I have no interest in running out of olive oil or salt and having to run back to the store. Second, I arranged my shopping list to roughly reflect where things are in the store. I know this is a little insane, but I do it with my weekly shopping trips and it saves me tons of time. It also increases the likelihood that I won’t miss an ingredient and need to make another trip. Finally, inspired by the wedding planning we’ve been doing lately, I’m creating a day-of schedule to keep myself on track. I’m not so worried about the turkey, but it would be easy to forget to add the cranberries to the salad dressing and soak the onions for the salad an hour before we sit down. These are not things that will ruin the meal, but I’ll feel more focused and confident seeing the pace written out on paper. A harried host isn’t a happy one. I’ll do what I need to enjoy the day and soak it up. It’s the stuff memories are made of.

And with that, a very Happy Thanksgiving from me to you!

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