I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I love Thanksgiving.
Perhaps it’s the simplicity of it that appeals to me so. A day of simply taking a moment to recount our blessings and surround ourselves with those we love. There are no religious complications or gifts necessary. It is just simply a day of gratitude.
Sure, there is historical value and that is important as well, but that is not really my thing. So I’ll save the significance of the day and its history to the more knowledgeable and passionate.
While I may love Thanksgiving, I am not a fan of cooking large meals for groups of people. I’m more of an hors d’oeuvres slash Crockpot slash breakfast casserole type of hostess.
Slaving over a meal and timing each course just right is not something I find enjoyable. As an extreme Type A personality, I struggle with the notion that everything may not be served up at the same temperature and to be honest, that in and of itself drives me bananas.
I also have a love of television and cinema. My favorites always seem to involve families and relationships. There is just something about watching the dynamic between a large family or close friendship on the screen that resonates deeply with me. I love the sounds of a house filled with people of varying ages, generations and backgrounds.
This brings me to the notion I had several months ago of hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our home. For some, I am sure this is a given, where else would you go?
Remember I am not a fan of cooking large meals. My first soiree with Thanksgiving dinner was 20 years ago. It was my first Thanksgiving as Mrs. Kelly Hammond and it seemed the right thing to do. Boy was I wrong.
My mother was more than happy to lend a hand and teach me ‘how Thanksgiving is done, in OUR family.’ This included reporting to the kitchen at 6 a.m. to get everything started and everything was to be made that morning and from scratch.
Now, looking back I was not only young and dumb, but just plain crazy.
But I digress … a bit.
Following a trip to the movies with some girlfriends in late summer, I decided to once again give Thanksgiving a crack. As I sat in the theatre, I began feeling a bit nostalgic about life in general and felt it was time to graciously release my mother from one of the four major holidays she hosts for our family each year.
Within days of that outing, I informed my mother of my intention. Disguising her shock through a bright cheery smile, she accepted my invitation and asked what she could bring. This time around, I would be in this alone.
I also invited another family, who we have become quite close to in the past year. Honestly, I wanted to invite several families we have become close with as of late, but my head reminded me I was not yet ready.
So, the plan was in place. Side dishes were assigned to my mother and girlfriend and I took on the basics. My mother informed me a 20-pound turkey would be necessary and my son reminded me that I had to have mashed potatoes. My husband of course put in his bid for stuffing and I was insistent on having a green salad.
The menu was in place, dinner time set and grocery shopping done. Everything seemed just perfect until the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving.
Early that Wednesday evening I paid a visit to my Facebook page and noticed many of my friends had begun cooking. Really? I recall thinking, you can do that?
Still unsure of what to do with the turkey and not wanting to ask my mother for any help, I turned to my ‘friends.’
The first question came in the way of what to prep the day before. Within moments friends from as far as Kansas and as close as three blocks from my house, gave their opinions. As my phone made sounds with each post, indicating a response to my inquiry, my husband looked at me with concern.
“It’s my peeps,” I told him happily. “They’re helping me out in a pinch. I love Facebook.”
And that they did. The following day, just prior to everyone arriving, we watched the parade, ran the vacuum and gussied ourselves up. The Hammonds were ready to once again host Thanksgiving.
Of course as everyone arrived, bearing their contributions to the dinner table a bit of havoc ensued. How would we heat it all in one oven and serve it all at the right temp? More importantly, was the turkey done? Where was the thingy that was supposed to pop-up?
My mother patiently checked everything, as I outed myself to my girlfriend.
“I don’t cook,” I stated. And, being the great friend that she is, she simply giggled, shrugged and put herself to work making the salad.
As the day concluded, the dishes were washed and coats collected as people headed home, I felt genuine happy. The day after all was about more than the food or the perfect meal.
Quite simply, it was about the sounds. The sounds that came from down the hall as the children played, or from the living room as the guys watched the football games. Then there were the sounds that came from the kitchen as we tried to orchestrate the varying side dishes. Most importantly it was the sounds of banter, laughter and joy as we all surrounded the table, that helped best recall all my blessings.
Blessings, which surrounded me that day, as well as the day before as I frantically began thinking of the day to come. The blessing, which is my life and I am so very grateful for on each day that I am allowed to live it. I am indeed grateful for my very simple, yet abundant life.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.