Abundance

  • Nov 26, 2011

I’ll admit it, occasionally I feel envious of my friends who make a dish or two and go to a huge family gathering for Thanksgiving. It would be lovely to sleep in, play soccer with masses of cousins, aunt and uncles and join hands round the table to give thanks.

But my children revel in the preparations. They’ve taken ownership of treasured recipes and pride in the results (though it’s twice as much fun when we join my sister).

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We start on Wednesday with the pie crusts: Hans separates the eggs, while Mary chops the butter. Making as many pies as possible is the unwritten challenge– why?- I have no idea.
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She loves wielding that knife.
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A new recipe from Lisa, Stefan is in charge of the White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Banana Cream Pie.
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Go big or go home. I buy one of these chocolate bars every fall. Per pound it’s cheaper than chocolate chips and oh-so-delicious.
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It’s so lovely.
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Everyone is enthralled with the chopping; Stefan’s still working on his pie.
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One lick for you,
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one for me.

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By noon the kitchen is really a mess.
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One layer of banana slices, one of custard.
Stefan is especially qualified to make this pie since he eats about six bananas a day.
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Gabe- “How can I help?”
Stefan- “Could you make me toast with peanut butter and honey?”
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and he does. Gabe is good that way.
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Making mini Mary-berry pies.
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What’s better than one Mary in the kitchen? Two.
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She fits right in.
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We gave her an apron and let her crush cranberries.
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Getting just a bit sour over all the lemons she’s juiced.

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Cranberry puree is serious stuff; we need every last bit for our traditional cranberry ice.

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The process can make you a bit crazy.

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Cooking the meal and setting the table on Thursday seem almost easy after the previous day’s work.

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The dishes and the cloth are all my mother’s: she watches over us, nudges me when a pot is about to boil, whispers that the wild rice needs more parsley.

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And I know she admires little Mary setting the table (shh, don’t tell my sister we used paper napkins).

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We love the details like the chicken butter dish and tiny salt and pepper bowls. Xander created the boat place cards.
Between kitchen tasks, the boys and Erik rake leaves and cause trouble.

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The last hour of prep is always the hardest– so many tasks must be perfectly coordinated for each dish to arrive on the table piping hot. Take out the turkey, start on the gravy, mash the taters, put the rolls in the oven. Is that cranberry ice ready? Spoon it into goblets.

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And then we sit, and give thanks and thoroughly enjoy.

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Chess takes over once the meal is cleared. Those quiet, calm matches from the movies couldn’t be more different from our house– chess involves, laughter, yelling, teasing insults and victorious cheering. Fritz took this match.

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Suddenly, all the too-full tummies want dessert. We ended up with two pecan, banana cream, lemon, two chocolate mousse, macadamia, sour cherry and chocolate macadamia (banana cream was the first to disappear; we ditched pumpkin at the last minute).

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And today, as we are washing load after load of dishes and wiping mashed potatoes from the floor, I found our stack of “hundred thankful things” from Monday night. The various lists are both sweet and silly, but to the bottom of mine I’d like to add one more– I’m grateful to have a refrigerator full of leftovers for the weekend because I am completely and thoroughly
worn out.
November 30, 2011

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14 Comments

  1. Reply

    Kit Linkous

    November 26, 2011

    YOU are creating that large family gathering that will be in the future :). My mom was just remembering how different it was (and how much work) when we lived far away from all our cousins in TX and she had to get the whole meal ready for our huge family on her own (even with our help, the weight of pulling off the perfect Thanksgiving is exhausting for the mom). Now we can each bring something and her load is a little lighter. You are building the same foundation for years of happy thankfulness ahead. Love you

  2. Reply

    ellen

    November 26, 2011

    It sounds like a perfect day. What about sharing the banana cream pie and chocolate cream pie recipes with a Boston blogging buddy? Please… 🙂

  3. Reply

    Jeanelle

    November 26, 2011

    I love seeing the kids so involved in all of the preparations and what looks like your mom’s photo overlooking the table. Dear friend, just flash forward 5-10-15-20 years and imagine how full your table is going to be! The group around our table was also small but the day was nice (and it ended with me smiling a lot!) Love you…

  4. Reply

    cristie

    November 27, 2011

    i just read the post you deleted…so i must comment here.

    you have suffered a monumental loss and i am so so sorry.

    i love you. xox

  5. Reply

    Lizzy

    November 27, 2011

    I wondered what happened to the post. I was excited to see that there was a new post, but when I went to see what it was–nothing new was there. I hope all is well.

  6. Reply

    Denise Schild

    November 28, 2011

    Can you tell me what kind of lens you used on these beautiful pictures. I love your pictures so much, they are so colorful and clear!
    Thank you!

  7. Reply

    Michelle

    November 28, 2011

    Hi Denise– Thanks for your kind words. I switch between 50mm and 85mm Canon lenses.

    And as for the deleted post…I’ll say something about that tmrw.

  8. Reply

    Tracy

    November 28, 2011

    Those pies!!!! Save a slice for me. Happy Thanksgiving dear friend. xoxo

  9. Reply

    Cath

    November 28, 2011

    Michelle – this post is delicious in every way! I love all the details, the joy on your faces (minus you missy – you need to put someone else behind the lens now and then!), and the happiness, thick everywhere. Hope you sleep well tonight. Planning to meet you in the morning. xoxo

  10. Reply

    Rachelle

    November 28, 2011

    Lovely!

  11. Reply

    Claudia

    November 28, 2011

    One of my favorite pictures in this post (you know Zoe watching over Mary setting the table pulled my heart strings) is the one of Fritz and Erik smiling at each other across the table. What love. As it should be. My thoughts are with you this holiday season. Love you sister.

  12. Reply

    Lisa

    November 29, 2011

    It looks like you should be having pie night at your house…your pies looked amazing. Also…may I hire Stefan as my assistant? Thanksgiving looks just perfect at your house!

  13. Reply

    martha corinna

    November 29, 2011

    Wow. Beautiful Michelle. Your home is the perfect back drop for such a party.

  14. Reply

    Kerri

    November 30, 2011

    Michelle, your Thanksgiving post is something to be admired. And those pies? I think I gained 3 pounds just looking at the pictures.

    One of your gifts, my friend, is to find joy in the midst of pain. It is something I admire in you, something I aspire to. Thank you for sharing the beauty of life juxtaposed with the raw heartbreak. It buoys me.

    That said, I so hope that one day your heart can find rest. I too, have found that great tragedy and loss simply seem to lead to more of the same… quel dommage. It doesn’t seem fair. I never imagined life would work like that. Thank goodness for the Thanksgiving pie days, the games of chess with a loving grandfather, the early morning runs with women who adore you, the sister who writes with you so beautifully, the pictures that fill so many with such joy… You’re wonderful. XOXO

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