by Caroline

Wednesday afternoon, after lunch. We’re hanging out, starting to think about, maybe, some Thanksgiving dinner prep. My brother-in-law calls; he’s on his way, but can’t stay as long as he expected. He’ll leave after lunch on Thursday, instead of staying through dinner.

Hmm. Thanksgiving dinner is always, in our family, in the evening: at dinner time. But we have been planning to share the meal with the boys’ West Coast Uncle Fun. We briefly consider a midday Thanksgiving meal, but that’s just never been our style. Special meals should be in the evening, with candlelight. Plus, we don’t want him to have to eat and run. It is after 1 PM. Could we get Thanksgiving dinner on the table in just five or six hours? We take on the challenge.

And so I am thankful. Thankful for the friend who loaned us her son for the afternoon so our boys were happily occupied (she thought we were doing her a favor, babysitting so she could care for her stomach flu-y daughter. I’ll keep letting her think that.)

Thankful for my mom, from whom I learned how to make brown & serve rolls, which are always ready when I need them, and who taught me to keep a light touch on the pie crust.

Thankful for my sister, who posts favorite recipes on her blog (like I do) so that we could easily produce her delicious cranberry chutney.

Thankful that no one wanted turkey. This year, after experiments with stuffed mushrooms (very good), polenta-topped roasted vegetable pot pie (excellent) and even lentil-mushroom timbales (meh), we’ve even decided to dispense with the notion of a “main.” All any of us really wants, when we get right down to it, is stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. Plus of course rolls and pie. I insist on something green (you should see my son put away the kale salad). And then we make various other things to put under the gravy. It’s a lot of chopping, but nothing needs the oven for four or five hours like a turkey does. The pans of pie, vegetables, and rolls, go in and out of the oven all afternoon.

Thankful for my brothers and my dad, siblings-in-law, niece and nephew, none of whom had much to do with this particular meal, but always figure in my thinking about food, family, and celebrations. I’m looking forward to our next big feast together!

And most of all, thankful for my husband, who has no problem cooking any meal, any time, but really kicked it into gear Wednesday to produce Thanksgiving dinner a day early. He started our in-no-particular-order to do list to make sure we got everything onto the table:

We sat down to dinner at 6:30, at a table decorated with Eli’s flower arrangement, and — so happy to have the meal on the table and my family gathered round — I did not think to take a picture of the spread. But trust me when I say it was delicious, and I hope yours was, too.