I did something today that probably nobody else reading this did...at least not today. I baked a pumpkin pie, made stuffing, and cooked a turkey, Walt and I had a second Thanksgiving dinner before we went to a cabaret show in Sacramento.
Our Thanksgiving yesterday was OK. It was very nice to be with my mother, but it didn't seem right without other family around. With only one exception since I was born, Thanksgiving has always meant a big home cooked feast and lots of family around. When I was very young, it was at my grandparents'. The gathering always included my father's parents, my godfather and the four of us. The issue of celebrating with my mother's family was never an option, first of all because my maternal grandparents lived too far away (well, in the pre-highway days it was), and second, because my father didn't really like my mother's family and he felt he had a duty to his own parents, who never even owned a car throughout my entire life, until their death (odd, since my grandfather's career was as a parking lot attendant in downtown San Francisco!).
Eventually, when things got to be too much work for my grandmother, my mother took over cooking Thanksgiving dinner, in addition to Christmas dinner. When Walt and I started having kids we split holidays, so she would do Thanksgiving and I would do Christmas. When she left my father and moved in with Fred, she always had Thanksgiving with Fred's family and we would go to Tahoe with Walt's family.
When Walt's mother could no longer handle the high altitude of Lake Tahoe, we sometimes had dinner at our house, sometimes at my mother's house. We were lucky that there was never that family rivalry -- who gets the kids this year? -- to worry about, since Walt's family always got along well with mine, so they were always invited to my mother's house and she was always invited to the home of whoever in Walt's family was hosting a dinner.
Paul's death started the big change. The year David died, I couldn't handle Tahoe, so I cooked dinner and everyone came here. The next year I went to Tahoe and we took a big family picture because I realized how easily people could get lost. The year Paul died, I think everybody went back to Tahoe, but my mother (who no longer liked making that long drive) and I went to a restaurant.
But we now have lots of other family to consider. Marta's family, Laurel's family, and Phil's family and the siblings and in-laws that go along with those families. We have been amazingly fortunate to have so many years of having all the family together. Last year Tom, Laurel and Bri went to her family, Ned and Marta were with us, and we added Peach, Bob and their daughter Karen, so again we had a full table.
But this year Peach and Bob are with their kids, Ned & Marta were with Marta's family, I'm not sure where Tom & Laurel were, but I suspect with her family again. Walt's brother and his wife went to Santa Barbara to be with their mother. So that just left Walt, me and my mother to get together for Thanksgiving.
It seemed silly for my mother to cook a big dinner (which she would have done), so I suggested we go to a restaurant.
And we did. It was a buffet at a local hotel and it was OK, but none of us felt it was outstanding. My mother said nothing tasted right. My dark meat turkey was dry as sawdust and the cranberry sauce, which I'm sure was gourmet, wasn't the same as the Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce that I grew up with. The pumpkin pie was OK, but it had that store-bought taste to it.
We had a lovely time, but "dinner" was over by 2 p.m. Triptophan had kicked in by 2:30 and Walt and I both took naps, after which it was time to drive home and feed the dogs. Jeri had called earlier in the day, and Ned & Tom both sent messages around dinner time.
But it was sad to get up this morning and have no pumpkin pie for breakfast, and to have no turkey to fix for sandwiches at lunch, and no food to use to make my friend Dana Rae's turkey casserole, an annual "leftovers" staple in this house.So I thought -- dammit! I'm going to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. And I did. Of course we still didn't have all the family here, but we had the dogs and then we have a show to get to, but when we get home from the show, I can pick on a bit of stuffing. In the morning there will be pumpkin pie for breakfast and I'm looking forward to my turkey sandwich tomorrow afternoon.