A Grant Family Thanksgiving
It's a few weeks after our Grant family Thanksgiving, and I am finally out of my turkey coma enough to write about it. Actually, the weeks after Thanksgiving are very busy in my line of work (fundraising) because we have GIVING TUESDAY, in which every non-profit in the world is expected to participate, plus December 1 happens to be a very popular date for big time grant applications to be due and most people make their donations to non-profits in the month of December! Add an Opening Night for a very promising play and I was swamped! But now I'm here to talk about a holiday that is exceptionally important to my family: Thanksgiving.
I'm just going to start this off by saying that my ma is a Thanksgiving goddess. It's her favorite holiday. She has four brothers and sisters and they lost their parents when they were relatively young. My ma, being the oldest, picked up the Thanksgiving torch in a big way and has always provided her family with a spectacular holiday. When I say spectacular, I mean that it is choreographed like a Russian ballet. Her Thanksgiving is so good that when my parents got divorced, my grandfather (on my father's side) kept coming to my ma's dinner. It's the kind of good that even a divorce can't break up! The event has grown and changed as our family has, but it's still a pretty big deal, and I feel like this year we've finally hit our sweet spot again.
This year's guest list included my two uncles on my ma's side and their wives, one cousin, my aunt's parents, brother and his girlfriend, my sister, brother-in-law and nephew, my step-siblings (3), their significant others (3), their kids (2), my step-dad's brother, his wife and 2 kids, my aunt (who was 3 days out of hip replacement surgery), my ma, step-dad, my husband and me. As you can see... there are a LOT of relations that attend and all smashed together in a 1,000 square foot, one bathroom house. I've decided to refer to this event as the Grant Family Thanksgiving because that is my ma's maiden name, and while most of our names have changed throughout the years, without the Grant family, we wouldn't have this giant tradition.
The plan was that everyone would arrive for appetizers at 1:30 p.m. This year, my ma laid down the law that anyone planning on going to another house must leave and go there before our 3:30 p.m. dinner. I am a huge rule person. I think they give everyone the parameters they need to understand how to act in a situation. Nerdy... I know. But this rule was actually incredibly helpful. Several of my step-siblings had to go to other houses and they were able to visit with us for a good amount of time, but leaving before dinner made it so that no one felt rushed to get the food on the table. Feeling rushed is the kiss of death in my family. Our high expectations for perfection make us crumble under that type of pressure.
I received a text from my Ma at 10:30 Thanksgiving morning saying that I could come over any time I wanted. When I asked her what she meant by that, it became apparent that "any time I wanted" really meant "very soon!" So I pulled myself together and headed off to my ma's house. Apparently, my ma thought she could use my step-dad as a sous chef, but he doesn't follow direction very well and kept wandering off to do his own projects. So there I was... called up to the big leagues... my ma's right hand man on Thanksgiving - THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF THE YEAR!
Preparing a full meal for 30 people is no joke. Fortunately for everyone involved, my ma is a pro at this particular event. She had been prepping and cooking for two days before Thanksgiving, which made the day-of work surprisingly simple. Of course there were moments... like when my step-dad's nephew asked when dinner would be ready. Bad move. Or when someone burned my crescent rolls, which I promptly took outside and pulled the burned parts off. Husbands and children scuttled through to the shouts of "OUT OF THE KITCHEN" and eventually we were able to all sit down, at three tables, for dinner. Fortunately this year my ma had put some major thought into seating and we were able to fit everyone, and all the food, into the kitchen and attached dining room.
This year was extra wonderful because my sister and I were able to help my ma prepare the food. Each one of us had our abilities (my sister was in charge of the microwave, which was VERY important in putting out warm food that had been cooked the day before!) but we all came together to feed our very large and sometimes confusingly diverse family. Homesteading tends to focus a lot on family because it is our family that we hope to be able to rely on when times get tough. This year I am thankful for all those who could gather together and help out to make this day such an enjoyable success.
While the family and tradition aspects of Thanksgiving are what make it so special, my second favorite thing about it is that it means that I can put up my Christmas decorations! I don't believe in putting up the decorations before Thanksgiving but as soon as the turkey is consumed and the relatives roll home, it's all about the twinkly little lights. I'll save that for next time.