We had a pretty joyous and raucous Thanksgiving Day celebration. I was feeling pretty happy because I had successfully delegated a lot of the cooking chores. Woohooo!
The plan was that SwampDaughter was making the spinach-artichoke casserole with sour cream and parmesan cheese which she had improved by adding bacon. Mmmmmm. Why didn’t I think of that? She was also making the sweet potato casserole (which turned out really well. She didn’t have a recipe and just stirred in whatever ingredients she had on hand that sounded good to her into some mashed sweet taters.)
Son got in from Augusta Wednesday night and got up early early in the a.m. on Thanksgiving to smoke the (store bought) turkey.
Mom was bringing the dressing, collards, and pies.
My brother was bringing rumnog and his cream cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers which were wrapped with bacon, skewered with chunks of pineapple, and grilled.
That just left me with a dessert, the wild rice and sausage casseroles, green beans, rolls, and ten pounds of mashed potatoes to fix. I did everything except the green beans and rolls the night before so I wouldn’t be a total anxious wreck the next day worrying over the food, which I always do. I STILL had a near sleepless night worrying about whether everything would be okay and whether there would be enough food for 14 people.
I felt I had a lot to make up for. You see, last year I got the flu right before Thanksgiving. I could barely move. I was running a high temperature and could not keep anything down. I called everybody to cancel. Everybody except our son, that is, who had told me he didn’t know if he would be in town for Thanksgiving and could make it. Since he never let me know, I figured he wasn’t coming. Imagine my surprise when, on Thanksgiving Day, there was a knock on the door and there stood son and his daughter, happily expecting a meal with the entire family. I wasn’t even dressed and sick as a dog. I wouldn’t let them even come in the house and ordered them away for their own good. SwampMan didn’t even get a Thanksgiving dinner.
This year, SwampMan was sick. He was not allowed to get near the food. He was not allowed to get near the table. He was barely allowed out of bed because he could not pass his germs on to me this year. I was DETERMINED that this year would be perfect. I would not even stay in the same room with him because I didn’t want the germs jumping over to me, forcing me to cancel Thanksgiving again.
Thanksgiving day, I was barely moving due to the sleepless night of worry. I decided I needed coffee. I first made coffee without any coffee in the coffeemaker. Then I put the coffee into the coffeemaker, but I forgot to replace the pot, and had coffee spilling EVERYWHERE. On the third try, I got it right. I had to have five cups of coffee before I was awake enough to do my farm chores, then started zipping around the house picking up and straightening up.
About an hour before the guests were to arrive, I started transferring made-ahead casseroles to the oven to heat. I got to the potatoes that I’d so carefully cooked, peeled, seasoned, and mashed with sour cream and butter, then lovingly placed in my best big glass pyrex casserole dish the night before. I slid that sucker out and dropped that big ol’ glass casserole dish slap on the floor. Glass shards flew EVERYWHERE. (Note to self: Next time, use the cheapass tinfoil casseroles for the refrigerator to oven thang.)
I burst into tears over my mashed potatoes mess. “Well, maybe you can just dust it off and put it into another pan!” SwampMan said helpfully.
“THERE’S GLASS IN IT!”
“Well, maybe you can stir it good.”
I think my laughter may have had just a touch of hysteria in it. It was Thanksgiving Day, the potatoes and glass shards were all over the floor, the grocery stores were closed, I had a terrible mess to clean up, and it was time to cook the green beans. I salvaged about half of the potatoes to feed to the chickens, putting them into a smaller glass casserole dish and placing it on the counter before cleaning up glass and taters. I had glass and mashed potatoes all over me, I kept having to pick glass shards out of my feet despite sweeping and vacuuming, and SwampMan strongly suggested that I might need to get in the shower to wash some of the blood OFF from glass scratches before anybody got here. And put on clean clothes without blood and mashed potatoes all over them.
I had just gotten out of the shower and screamed something like “Oh, SHIT! I forgot the green beans!” as I ran into the kitchen just as the first guests, SwampDaughter and family, arrived with food and kids.
“Don’t let the kids in here without shoes on!” I said as I stopped to pick another piece of glass out of my foot. “Did Daddy explain that there will be NO potatoes this year and to watch out for glass? Oh, crap, the green beans!”
“RELAX, Mom!” SwampDaughter said. “You know SwampBrother will be late with the turkey. He probably won’t be here for an hour yet…” just then SwampSon walked in with his daughter, his girlfriend, and her two kids and the turkey. I quickly snapped one package of green beans instead of the three I was going to make, and just threw them in some boiling water with bacon instead of the gingered sausage green beans that I had planned.
“Uh, Mom?” SwampDaughter said.
“What is it?”
“Did, uh, you know that you sorta didn’t brush your hair?”
I looked into the mirror. My wet hair was standing pretty much straight up.
“No, no, I didn’t. Thank you for telling me now that everybody is here!”
I ran back to brush my hair, then ran out to help Mom and brother bring in food. We were about to sit down at the table when I realized that I hadn’t put the rolls into the oven to bake yet. DAMN!
Despite the potato debacle, there was actually plenty of food. The wild rice and sausage casseroles, dressing, collards, green beans, sweet taters, spinach-artichoke casserole, grilled stuffed jalapenos, gravy, rolls and succulent tender juicy smoked turkey was enough food for everybody. It was ALL excellent. Then there were the pies….
I forgot to take my dessert out of the fridge until after daughter had gone home! Mom, son’s girlfriend, and I ate some of it before they, too, had to leave.
I was cleaning up the kitchen after the guests left when my brother called. “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I left the rumnog in the back of your fridge.”
“Okay, I can bring it to you tomorrow!”
“No, I left it for you. I think you might need it!”
I got the dishwasher started. SwampMan had gone to bed. I took out the rumnog and had a water glass of it. It was potent! And delicious. I poured another glass. It was even better this time. I couldn’t even taste the alcohol. Somehow that whole big ol’ bottle of rumnog got empty. I loved my family. I loved the whole world. I was relaxed and warm and happy.
“I probably ought to go to the bathroom and head for bed now.” I remember thinking to myself. “But I can’t feel my legs. Should I be walking if I can’t feel my legs? Can I even stand up?” Somewhere in that conversation with myself I fell fast asleep until late the next morning.