It would be abnormal if I was writing this post the day after Thanksgiving, wouldn't it? You know, before everyone has moved on from that holiday and has started prepping for Christmas. But I think getting this on the blog less than a week after is pretty good for me these days!
For Thanksgiving dinner this year we had the three youngest of our five boys and their families with us, which was wonderful. Three of our sons (#'s 2, 3, and 4) are practically neighbors here in VA, but our baby made the trip all the way from the Nashville area with his wife and absolutely adorable almost 9-month-old little girl. I am not exaggerating when I say that she just might be the sweetest baby alive. She's all breathy baby talk, smiles, and giggles, and she rarely cries. She's an angel and a complete joy, and that's not just a biased Grammy talking. This sweet little family came and stayed with us for a week-long visit, and it was much too short.
Our firstborn could not be with us. He and his wife are out in Wisconsin with their six kids, awaiting the birth of baby #7--which should be any day now. They spent Thanksgiving with her folks, who live just over an hour away from them now. And our second-born (who lives less than an hour from us) was celebrating with his wife's family, who has a giant (60-plus people!!!) extended family Thanksgiving extravaganza every year. (We usually have a "second Thanksgiving" get-together with them a day or two later.)
I LOVE getting things all ready for any big family celebration. I enjoy cleaning and decorating the house (I decorated for Christmas before Thanksgiving, minus the tree, because our baby will not be with us this year at Christmastime and he loves him some decked halls), setting the table, menu planning, cooking whatever I can ahead of time. Prepping for family parties might just be one of my favorite activities. We almost didn't host this year, because son #3's wife was going to...but with five active young kids and about a million things going on in their life right now, she and our son decided that maybe they'd do it next year, if we didn't mind hosting again.
We didn't mind at all.
This was our seventh Thanksgiving since our big move to VA, and all seven times, three or four of our boys and their ever-growing families have come to our house to celebrate it. (During the four years son #1 lived nearby, his gang always joined us.) It's overwhelming--that is, it's overwhelming how blessed we are to be here, and how much fun it is to be able to make our home a meeting place for our loved ones. This year, we had ten adults (including one daughter-in-law's parents, who are local) and ten children. I decided to use paper products and disposable plastic utensils but I may go back to using real china and silverware next year. I think the joy I get from using pretty dishes outweighs the hassle of extra clean-up afterward. Some things are just worth it.
Anyway, we used paper and plastic. And we set up the food buffet-style. Most of it had been made ahead of time. A few days beforehand, I made a pumpkin pie and a chocolate peanut butter pie, and on Wednesday I got the Oreos crushed up and the creamy part mixed for our family favorite "Heavenly Dirt" trifle. On Wednesday I also cooked two stuffed turkeys, setting aside the drippings to make gravy on Thursday, and our youngest son's wife made a berry crumble pie (it was so yummy!). That meant that on Thanksgiving day, the only things left to do were to make mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and gravy, and to put together the trifle layers. I am a huge fan of doing as much ahead of time as you can. We always cook our turkeys the day before now, let them rest, then carve them and store them in the fridge soaked in chicken broth. And our turkey is always so moist!!
I call this picture of me and my set table "The Calm Before the Storm."
We had three tables set up: adults in the dining room, kids at the kitchen table, and then a miniature table-for-two, for our 4-year-old granddaughters (two weeks apart, these two attend the same pre-K and are BFF's).
The tables looked infinitely better filled with people!
We got sparkling grape juice and plastic champagne glasses, so the kiddos could do a toast. It was moderately successful. (The way Grammy imagines such scenarios playing out and how they actually play out are two very different things! Did you know that sparkling grape juice is too spicy? And that milk actually tastes better in a champagne glass than it does?) But it was cute anyway.
Speaking of cute...
Here are a couple of my favorite pictures of our day, taken by our youngest son (the filmmaker!) using his awesome camera. (Nothing against iPhone cameras, which are pretty amazing, but I think his pictures are so much better than mine.)
So that's our Thanksgiving. I hope yours was a happy one, dear readers. God bless you and yours!
Now on to Christmas!