Once upon a time, there was a woman, let’s call her Erica, who was not very adept at hosting company in her home. Nor was she confident in her cooking abilities. So imagine her surprise when she found herself the hostess for the Vetsch family Thanksgiving, a meal that would involve nine people gathered around her table expecting good food well-served.
At least she didn’t have to worry about what to cook since the Vetsch family is very traditional, nor did she have to prepare the entire meal by herself, as her sister-in-law was bringing some of the sides. But Erica did have to worry about the turkey. Buying, defrosting, preparing, and cooking the bird, all of which, in her inexperienced state, was daunting to say the least.
She got up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning to get the thawed bird into the oven so it would be roasted by the noon meal. Anxious, she checked on it often throughout the forenoon, even as she prepared the stuffing, the sweet potato souffle, and tried to decide at what time should she start peeling the potatoes so they would be ready to mash just before company arrived. The anxiety of getting so many things finished at once had her in a dither.
|No, this is not what her table looked|
like, but it's pretty and festive. You get the idea.
Oh, and there was the cleaning that needed to take place. That last minute vacuuming of the carpets, dusting of the furniture, and a quick whisk about the bathrooms. All of which might have been easier to do herself rather than supervise her kids while they did it, but she couldn’t clean and cook at the same time…so the kids pitched in.
Her husband put the extra leaves in the dining room table and brought extra chairs from other places in the house. Potato peeling began, nervous checking to see if the little red pop up button on the turkey had popped yet, and oh, don’t forget to set the table!
Where was the tablecloth she had bought for this occasion? Let’s use the fancy dishes. Napkins, glasses, plates, cutlery. Put trivets on the table to receive hot pans.
You forgot the gravy!
Erica reached into the pantry and pulled down two cans of jellied cranberry sauce. (Don’t judge. Her husband loves that stuff with his turkey dinner. Erica is still amazed at the schlorping sound it makes coming out of the can and how it holds the exact shape, down to the ridges of the container it came from. Erica's family did not eat such space-age food when she was growing up.)
“James,” she plonked the can opener and a bowl onto the counter as she addressed her 11 year old son. “Open these and get them into the bowl and on the table. Company will be here in a few minutes.” Her tone was all business, no nonsense, and very I-don't-have-time-for-this-right-now-and-I-expect-it-done-promptly.
Erica turned back to the stove, frantically stirring the gravy and praying it would boil and thicken in the next thirty seconds.
Without turning around, “James, I don’t have time for your nonsense. Do as you’re told.”
“Okay.” Erica could hear the shrug in his voice and him rummaging around in a cupboard, but then the magic schlorping sound happened, and she put the task out of her mind. The gravy was almost boiling!
Hurry, hurry, hurry. The sound of car doors slamming outside…HURRY!
Erica turned from the stove to see her son holding two bowls. One contained a quivering mass of red jelly, and the other…sliced pears.
|Imagine my...I mean, Erica's shock!|
James shrugged. “I tried to tell you. You grabbed one can of cranberries and one of pears.”
At that moment, all she could do was laugh, put down her whisk, and hug her son. “I’m sorry I was so impatient with you. That was wrong of me. Thank you for doing as you were told. I guess we’ll have some Thanksgiving pears this year and be grateful for them.”
In the laughter and the hug, Erica realized that all the tension, the busyness, the hustle had squelched her gratitude and hospitality toward family. The whole reason the celebration was supposed to occur in the first place.
In the years since, Erica has continued to host the family Thanksgiving dinner. And this year, there will be ten at her table. There will be turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and the like. But there will also be fellowship, laughter, and less stress. There will be gratitude, thankfulness for all our blessings, for friends and family.
And those pears? We served them, and they were a hit. They didn’t even make it all the way around the table to me before they were gone.
Wishing you and yours a meaningful, happy, and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving!