Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Scenes From A Holiday

Yeah, my posting has really dropped off in regularity since starting my job. Sorry about that. I miss it, but I often feel as if I have nothing really to say.

I hosted my family for Thanksgiving this year. I've done a mini-Thanksgiving once before, right after Lauren was born, for some law school refugees and my one single sister. But otherwise, I've nev
er had the opportunity to host the holiday. This was my year, and I was looking forward to it. There was going to be 7 adults and 5 kids - not a very big group - just my immediate family. Of course, I stressed because I don't have a table big enough to seat everyone. Nor enough chairs. Nor enough bank to go out and buy something, but I do confess to scouring craigslist for dining room tables in the days leading up to the event. But I made due with moving the slightly larger table that we use for our everyday eating off the kitchen into the dining room, and moving that table - a small (only seats 4) antique-y table into the kitchen area. Then I set up our card table on one end, which was several inches shorter than the table, but gave us enough room to seat the 7 adults at one table. The kids would eat in the kitchen. I borrowed 4 folding chairs from my parents, and that worked. It wasn't gorgeous, but it got the job done.

To make this hodge-podge pretty, I used my best linens given to me by my mother from Italy. I have several tablecloths, but none big enough for a "large" table for 8. So I had to use two tablecloths - my prettiest one on the main table and a different one for the card table portion. It looked ok. I made the centerpiece with a trip to Michaels and some faux berry branches around a couple of simple white taper candles. I made the napkin rings to match. Festive! I used the leftover materials to add some color to the light above the table. I set the table with my china, silver and crystal we received from our wedding. I LOVE that sort of thing. I polished all the silver pieces - candlesticks, bowls, a pitcher, a serving piece (that's some dirty work, polishing silver!) Even though the table itself wasn't ideal, it ended up looking pretty.

Mr. Chick was in charge of the turkey and cocktails - pretty much the two most important elements to any holiday gathering. He smoked the turkey. He put it in a brine the night before and put it in the smoker really early on Thanksgiving. It turned out perfectly! As chef, he gets top honors. As bartender, he hit it out of the park, too, by making Sidecars for everyone. Yummy! We'd never had Sidecars before, but they are delicious. I like offering a special cocktail when I entertain, so this was great.

For the rest of the meal, my mom and sisters all brought something, so the burden wasn't completely on me. That's how we do it in our family, and I like it that way. I decided to change it up a bit this year and make a soup. We've never done a soup on Thanksgiving, but I wanted to. I found a great, simple recipe on City Mama's blog and made it with a few slight moderations (like using half pumpkin, half butternut squash), and it was delicious! Very s
ubtle in flavor and good. I also did the green beans, cranberry and appetizer. Mostly I got my house in order, cleaning windows, vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, you name it. I feel like I live in a fairly tidy/clean house, but when you have people coming over - even family? It needs a DEEP clean to get ready for that. I felt like I was preparing for days.

And then I got sick with a cold. Still have it today. So does Nicholas, who is home for the 2nd day in a row from school. Love that. But I digress....

During family holidays we like to play games. It's something to do together and we always have fun. This year was no different. We played some old-school games we hadn't played in a long time. Bef
ore dinner it was Outburst. After dinner it was Guesstures (you know, like charades?) Hilarious! It was girls vs. boys, and it was a tight game. Whenever my sisters and I get together there is always laughter, and this time we were laughing so hard we were crying. GOOD kind of laughter. Something about watching my dad try to do charades under a time pressure makes for lots of laughs. Even the kids got in on the action and attempted to take a turn or two. They did pretty well! Even my 4 yr old niece got a couple. Family fun.

I don't know exactly how the wigs came into play, but at some point we were all trying on these two wigs. I think one of my sisters needed to borrow a wig for a party she was going to, and I had two for her to choose from, and they all got passed around. One is a short-hair wig - a real wig - that my dad used when he did an Elvis impersonation years and years ago. I'm not sure how I ended up with it. The other is an obnoxious red wig we got for Lauren this year at Halloween for her Little Mermaid costume. So more giggles bubbled forth as everyone wore these wigs and hammed it up. We're a crazy bunch, I tell you.

So the day went well, the food was good and in abundance, and everyone had fun. I call that a success! I'm not quite ready for Christmas, and can't fathom decorating for Christmas a month early, but in another couple of weeks I'll be breaking out the stuff for that holiday and getting ready for Round 2 of family entertaining. I look forward to it.

Sounds like a fun Thanksgiving!
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