We had a lovely Thanksgiving, and I hope you did, too. Due to my crazy-busy de-cluttering during the past week leading up to Thursday, I really had zero motivation to precook any part of the big dinner. Well, I tried making the cranberry sauce the day before, but forgot about the orange juice and brown sugar simmering in a pot on the stove until I smelled the charcoal it had turned into (literally).
We again brined the turkey this year, and then a sweet family at our church smoked it for us. Incredibly delicious! We may never be able to go back to plain ol' turkey. So with the bird already fully cooked ahead of time, it made things a lot easier for me in that I only had to make the sides and desserts on the big day itself.
Thursday morning, we had a leisurely breakfast of ready-bought sweet-spicy breads, with hot cocoa on the side. Then the kids spent the morning playing outside, riding their bikes, and going to the park with Dad while I made the meal and laid the table.
My view from the kitchen while cooking - live piano music included
This is our new dining table. It is very simple in that it is just an 8-ft plastic folding table with plastic folding chairs, but it works so much better than our old table which was nicer, but simply too bulky for this long but narrow room, without offering enough seating to fit all of us comfortably. I bought several different festive fabric prints during the pre-Thanksgiving sales at Jo-Ann's to make quick and easy tablecloths, which I then covered with some clear vinyl to make the table easy to wipe down after each meal. Simple, but I just love it!
Eventually, I am hoping to have a wooden farm table made with these exact dimensions, and a bench along the window side of the table. For now, this will do, and it makes me very happy. It has been so nice being able to eat meals together as a family without a major logistical hassle! The kids all love it, too.
We ate pretty much the same as everyone else that day: turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, roasted butternut squash, corn, Hawaiian rolls, and cranberry sauce. For drinks, everyone had the choice of Virgil's rootbeer, or Pelegrino blood orange sodas. My husband declared it the best Thanksgiving feast yet :)
After such a late lunch, the little kids all took a long nap, while I plucked the meat off the turkey, made soup with the carcass, planned the Christmas menu, and then took a nap myself. The older kids played board games with Dad. For dinner, we followed our family tradition of serving desserts and hot cocoa only.
Then baths and showers all around, followed by family story time. We all went to bed tired and happy that night.
We have yet to finish decorating the house for Christmas, but we did get the tree set up today, and I am busily finishing up the kids' advent calendar before Tuesday.
I am keenly aware of the fact that holiday seasons like this, with all of our kids still living at home, are numbered. There may only be a handful more if our kids marry as young as we did. I am trying to strike a balance between making as many great memories as possible, without allowing this time to become too stressful, or the children too indulged (it happens - ha!). I will talk more about that in my upcoming post on toy/stuff-free gift giving, and on focusing on quality time and special experiences together, rather than on buying more things.