It’s a few hours before the sun is up on this Thanksgiving morning. The house is quiet, the kind of quiet that makes the sound of my fingers hitting the keys on the computer an unwelcome nuisance. In twelve hours, 26 guests–mostly Greg’s family–will be shoe-horned into our dining room, and this quiet time that in this moment sits at the top of my “Things I’m Grateful For” list will likely be forgotten.
Between now and “go” time, Greg and I and anyone that’s around to help have three turkeys to cook–a twenty-pound roaster for the oven and two twelve-pounders for the fryer, ten pounds of potatoes and seven pounds of sweet potatoes to peel, cook, and transform, and two more pies to bake–James Beard’s Rich Pumpkin (hold the candied ginger) and Gourmet Magazine‘s Cranberry Walnut Tart. The seven loaves of bread that have been cut into cubes and scattered on trays throughout the kitchen to dry will be turned into stuffing rife with sausage, sage, and apples. The kitchen will be popping with the sound of cranberries simmering on the stove for the sauce–mom’s sauce–that I’ve loved since I was a kid. We’ll roast eight pounds of Brussels sprouts (grown in my brother and sister-in-law’s garden) dressed with diced pancetta (Thanks Larry! And thanks Parma Sausage in Pittsburgh.) and a generous glug of maple syrup. A triple batch of Michael Ruhlman‘s 312 Biscuits found in his book Ratio rounds out our to-do list for the day. If all goes well, which means if I’m not in the shower when the guests arrive, Greg and I will pull it off without an argument. If…
All of this will join the Chocolate Truffle Cake and Pecan Pie Pops I made last night with my nieces; the roasted cauliflower soup, pumpkin roll with walnut cream cheese frosting, and life-saving make-ahead gravy that I knocked out on Monday with my friend Lisa; my mother-in-law’s broccoli cheese casserole and slab apple pie; the roasted butternut squash with Gorgonzola that my sister-in-law Kris now makes every year in lieu of a green bean casserole (whew!); and my sister-in-law Lori’s version of Christina Tosi’s aptly named “Crack” pie. We’ll wash it all down with cranberry whiskey sours and holiday spice martinis.
As I write this I can already feel my pulse quicken. With dinner twelve hours away I get lured into this relaxed state where the time available to prepare feels infinite. I slowly sip my coffee and review my list for the day. Once the sun is up I’ll convince Greg that I’ve got a handle on things so that he’ll go for a run with me–a Thanksgiving tradition that’s also perched near the top of my gratitude list. Just the two of us, our run is the only alone time we’ll have until the last guest leaves and we’re washing dishes, bleary eyed and too exhausted to speak let alone run.
This, and the kind of stuff that you can’t put into words, that traditions are made of, that gets me out of bed at 5am after only five hours of sleep, this is our Thanksgiving. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.