Clean, cook, eat; Clean, cook, eat

The Thanksgiving weekend goes by quickly. The preparations for it take longer than the day itself, but it’s worth it. Although the meal is a meaningful ritual, there are other things about the day I love.

Having our scattered family together for a few days is wonderful. One of my favorite things is cooking together. Now that Fowler deep fries the turkey, the oven is available for heavy-duty baking. Each year is a little different from the last.

For the first time ever, I had too much broth for the gravy and dressing. That’s never happened in my lifetime, but it wasn’t wasted. We just used more bread crumbs for the dressing to soak it up.

olivia6-25 Page 4A.inddI’m thankful I had enough sense when I was much younger to write down the recipe for the Bethea dressing that my Uncle Walther used to make. It came down from his mother, who was a Bethea and learned it from her mother.

And so the dressing goes on. Yes, it is a lot of trouble, but nowadays we have a food processor to chop the onion and celery, and there should be no reason for complaints. Of course, that doesn’t stop anybody from complaining about how hard it is. That’s part of it.

We couldn’t get Atlantic oysters this year, and that’s the only kind I’ll use. They probably had them somewhere, but when it got down to the wire there just wasn’t time to look for them.

So, for the first time in many years, we had no scalloped oysters on the table. But it really didn’t matter.

We had the turkey, rice and gravy, sweet potato casserole, English peas, green beans, cranberry sauce, dressing, carrot cake, heavenly hash and five kinds of homemade cookies. The cookies were a gift from my sister-in-law who is an outstanding baker.

No matter how many people show up for the meal, we always prepare for a crowd. Although it doesn’t all get eaten up on the day itself, it always gets eaten before the weekend ends.

The day after Thanksgiving, I was able to lie out in the yard in my gravity chair, and it was wonderful. This was a well-deserved break. No shopping for any of us.

The men were busy in the tractor shed. I don’t know what they were doing. Man stuff, probably. The ladies lounged in the yard talking, drowsing and leafing through pages of Southern Living looking at the pictures.

Frankly, that was about all we were fit for. The calves of my legs ached from standing at the stove all day, and my feet don’t bear discussing. Even my sous chefs were exhausted. They worked just as hard as anyone else.

It’s amazing how many times the kitchen has to be cleaned up during food preparation.

Some say to just wait till you finish, but we can’t do that because there aren’t enough bowls and pans available to make that possible.

All in all, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving and we enjoyed all of it. It’s hard to see those dear faces leave at the end, but they all have other lives now far away from here. I hope we gave them roots and wings for the lives they have now.