“Let the peace of Christ run in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15
My husband, Mike, has been making our Thanksgiving dinner for as long as I can remember. He brines the bird overnight, and is up by 4:00 A.M. to start all the side dishes. I usually go to the 9:00 AM Mass and then clean up all the pot and pans that Mike uses. Mike is a lone cook and needs the entire kitchen to himself. Don’t bother with small talk because his head is so in the game that he can’t hear you. I learned early on not to bother the genius while he is cooking. With every move of his hands, chopping, stirring, grating, seasoning and tasting , it is done in great love for his family.
I never really understand why Mike likes to use those cheesy aluminum containers, but last year it was a disaster. When we remodeled our kitchen, I wanted a colored stove with personality. We purchased a mint julep Viking stove, Mike used this oven for the turkey. He placed a 24-pound turkey with stuffing into the flimsy aluminum tray. Everything was going great, the house smelled of turkey, and all the trimmings, and even the basting was going great. Mikos (our son) came in and darted straight into the kitchen for sampling, he picked at everything possible and disappeared before the turkey incident. Mike was about ready to get the turkey out when that cheap tray screamed, “I can’t hold all this weight!” The aluminum container buckled and all the juices from our beautiful bird fell on to the kitchen floor. In a panic Sonja and I tried to save some of fat for the gravy while Mike transferred the fowl into the proper container. The smell of burnt fought with the scent of the turkey, but what was burning? At first I thought it was the juices hitting the oven floor but the smell was different. All of the stove’s electrical compartments are located where the juices fell. For days the burnt smell would slap you in the face as soon as you opened the front door. The repair was a huge expense, and the Viking representative said that we burnt out the main transformer.
After dealing with the angry bird, we said grace and chowed down yet another of Mike’s perfect meals. It is an unbelievable experience to eat Thanksgiving at our home. The turkey is tender with a sweet hint of spices that dance slowly in your mouth. Mike’s potatoes are eleven-layer au gratin with special sort of stinky cheese that blends perfectly when baked. The stuffing is Mike’s own creation of corn tortillas, hot sausages, onions and God know what else. The tortillas are fried first, and then added to the mix. The cream style corn is everyone’s favorite, and Mike broils it, making the top a bronze color. The only downfall of our eating frenzy is that we always seem to burn the rolls, so I’m taking the rolls to Mass to get them blessed.
Jenny is in charge of appetizers and salad. Our sweet Jenny makes the best salads with homemade dressing, and surprises us with wonderful appetizers. Sonja is in charge of the desserts, not just any but award-winning pecan pie, bread pudding, and pumpkin pies, so you need to save room for these delights. The award is that we get to eat them. Mikos brings the beer and Russ makes the best corn dip ever! Norma, Mike’s sister and her husband Les drive all the way from Buellton to join the feasting, bringing wine from their region to complement our meal.
During dinner it’s Mike this, Mike that, so many compliments, but does anyone compliment the cleanup lady? While everyone is visiting, I’m elbows deep in deboning the leftover meat off the turkey. Sorting and putting food away, and washing the real silverware and stem crystal by hand is a monumental chore. Not once has anyone said “Wow Mom! You really know how to clean!” They are too full, and the food coma has caused them to see life in a blur. In the last couple of years some of the ladies have helped with the cleanup which is greatly appreciated. I vaguely remember Mikos and Russ (son-in-law) helping as well, but for the most part It’s me.
Dear Lord, We invite you into our home to bless all who pass through our threshold. We are ever thankful for all you do for us. Bless those that prepared the meal with great love. Let our conversation be loving and kind. May there be joy in our mouths and hold our tongues from speaking hurtful words. Bless all the volunteers that take time from their busy day to feed the homeless. In great Thanksgiving of your wonderful love we praise you!