One of the things Brandon and I were most excited about when we bought our house was being able to invite people over.
In fact, I was so excited that I volunteered us to host Thanksgiving dinner this year for both our families.
Since we moved into the house, I’ve done a lot more cooking, and I¿haven’t managed to poison either of us yet.
Seriously though, I thought, and still think I am up to the challenge.
I plan to cook the whole dinner with a few minor exceptions. My mom has been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for her entire extended family for many years now, and she has it down pat. We eat the exact same menu on Thanksgiving and Christmas because everyone loves it so much. So I just asked her to bring the dressing, the sweet potato casserole, the broccoli casserole, maybe a dessert. Really, that’s it. I am totally handling the rolls (Sister Schubert, anyone?).
I’m kidding, of course, mostly. I am, after all, responsible for the main attraction — the turkey.
I¿have never actually cooked a turkey before, but I have heard it’s actually not as difficult as people make it out to be. Basically, you put it in the oven and let it do its thing — just let it thaw beforehand, and remove the giblets.
See? I’m a total expert.
I think my mom’s a little nervous about leaving something as important as the Thanksgiving turkey in my hands. Granted, having the baby to think about has left me a bit more scatter-brained than usual this year, but hosting this dinner was something I really wanted to do. Maybe the nurturing, maternal instincts are kicking in. I don’t know, but all fall I’ve had visions of a table spread with beautifully prepared food, a golden brown turkey and plenty of people talking sentimentally about what they’re thankful for, like we’re hosting Thanksgiving on Walton’s Mountain or something.
Bless her heart, I think my mom still remembers the child who toddled into the kitchen and ended up in the emergency room after accidentally knocking a pan of fried chicken off the stove. And there was the incident in 1987 when the Pine-Sol was mistaken for apple juice. But more than two decades have passed since then, and what toddler doesn’t get into scrapes?
Oh, and lest we forget the Crock-Pot fire of 2010. For me, it’s just misty, water-colored memory. But maybe other people are still suffering from flashbacks.
About a week ago, she asked me if I knew it took a few days for a turkey to defrost, and I can’t count the number of times she has asked me if I’m sure she doesn’t need to bring anything else. Like a spare turkey or ham.
Did I already say bless her heart?
Seriously, though, practice makes perfect, and I’ve done a lot of practicing the past few months. Spaghetti, pot roast, banana bread, pumpkin cookies, pork chops, pulled pork — all successfully prepared in the Red Shoe kitchen. I¿think I just needed a little boost to my confidence. If you can convince yourself you are incapable of something, then the opposite must be true. I¿have willed myself into kitchen competence.
I mentioned to Brandon that it might be a good idea to practice cooking a turkey ahead of time, just to be on the safe side, but we decided it wasn’t necessary. Maybe he just didn’t want to have to eat half of a turkey, but I choose to think it’s because he has so much faith in me.
I did take home economics in high school, and one of our projects happened to be pumpkin pie. Ironically, it was the only time in my entire high school career I didn’t get an A, but I repeated the experiment for our family’s Thanksgiving that year, and it went over quite well. It’s kind of a joke in my family, like my failed first attempt at a driver’s license — maybe I’m just a late bloomer.
At any rate, I don’t like to think of myself as a novice.
And I¿want to have a home where people feel comfortable, where they want to eat Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone knows it’s the best holiday — lots of food, low stress.
Well, it’s always been low stress for me, anyway. My mom might feel differently. She’s not even hosting this year, and I think she’s feeling the stress, mostly because she knows how much I really want to do a good job.
Personally, I think everything will turn out fine, even if it doesn’t quite resemble Thanksgiving with a Depression-era family in rural Virginia.
Like I said, motherhood is making me sentimental, so forgive me for a moment, but I really am just thankful to have a home to invite people to, and the opportunity to do something nice for my family.
And if the turkey isn’t exactly perfect, then I¿think we can handle it.
Besides, I’m sure my mother will have an extra lying around somewhere, just in case.