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November 28, 2002: Full

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Richard and I rearranged all the furniture downstairs this morning, dragging three tables into the living room and putting the living room furniture in the breakfast nook and the dining room. This involved lots of additional vacuuming and mopping and finding of long-lost cat toys. This was followed by a brief dash to my parents' house for homemade cinnamon rolls because even though we had a lot to do I was not willing to forgo getting to eat those when they were so nearby. After stuffing our faces with homemade sticky bun goodness, we came back home to continue with the preparations, which mainly involved me dashing around the house with a bottle of Windex scrubbing all the feline nose prints off all the downstairs windows and Richard sucking off the dust from the ceiling fan blades, and the cobwebs from the corners. This all took less time than anticipated, which meant I had time for a short nap. Richard only had to go to the store once today, and that wasn't even for anything Thanksgiving related, but instead for a box of a stronger sinus medication because I finally found something that would make the pressure in my head go far, far away.

All things considered, preparing for this dinner was really not so bad at all. The turkey was easy. I have no idea why I was so worried about it. For weeks prior to this I've been concerned about how the turkey would come out. I'd intended to actually practice on a smaller turkey or two, but being out of town the first three weeks of November sort of squashed that idea. But I simply followed the instructions on the wrapping, and once I'd wrestled it into the pan and removed all the giblets, Richard got to wrestle the pan into the oven. It wasn't too much longer that the whole house started to smell gloriously of turkey, and we knew it really was Thanksgiving. I did, of course, manage to spill turkey juice all over one shelf in the refrigerator and across one counter. The cats insisted that they'd be glad to help me clean that up, but I was a cruel and heartless cat mom and let Clorox bleach take care of the raw turkey juice instead. Don't pity them - they got their own feast of three different varieties of extremely stinky canned food later on, upstairs where they could eat unmolested by small children or curious adults.

We had a 21-pound turkey and I worried that it wouldn't be enough as Richard and his father carved, but it turned out to be plenty, with everything else on the table. There were two kinds of sweet potatoes (with marshmallows and without), two types of pumpkin bread (with cranberries and plain) and the requisite green bean casserole. There were mashed potatoes, two kinds of stuffing, two types of gravy, three kinds of cranberry sauce, and of course the traditional grape Kool-Aid in the ugly green pitcher. Everyone came bearing copious amounts of food, and it turned out that having the turkey done early was a good thing, since a lot of the side dishes needed room in the oven - which the turkey filled completely when it was cooking.

And then, when the eating finally stopped from the dinner, there was pie - five different kinds of pie, with cool whip or real whipped cream, and pumpkin ice cream fresh from the ice cream freezer. By the time we got to the pie I could barely eat more than a sliver before I had to give up. We mulled a huge pot of cider, and brewed pot after pot of hazelnut and cinnamon coffee and sat around the three tables in the candlelight and talked.

Our dishwasher got quite a workout today, as we loaded it over and over. My sisters came in and suddenly there were three of us in the kitchen, rinsing, loading the dishwasher, and setting out the pies. Richard's dad came in at one point to gently tease me about how I shouldn't be the one to do the cleanup, but I really didn't mind. It gave me something to do. All day I'd been running on nervous energy, to make up for the fact that the only medication I could find to counteract the sinus pain was for nighttime, and thus makes me a bit dopey. As long as I kept active and didn't sit down for too long, I was fine.

Now that everyone is gone, the cats are creeping back downstairs, to inspect the unfamiliar arrangement of the furniture, and to scour the floor underneath all the table for any stray crumbs that might have fallen from overflowing plates. My first Thanksgiving as hostess - finally over. It was fun, and hectic and noisy and I hadn't planned on being quite so sick throughout. It's been kind of a crazy day. It's hard to believe that for a few hours this house was crammed with people, small and large, talking, laughing, chaos. And I'm more thankful than I can possibly say that next year, it's someone else's turn.

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