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November 28, 2003: Full

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We are all about the traditions in this house. And this year, even though we were headed out of town for Thanksgiving and all the preparation of food (two kinds of bread and green bean casserole) had already either been done, or the ingredients purchased and sitting on the counter or in the freezer, Richard still got to partake in one of the most time-honored traditions of beleaguered husbands everywhere come Thanksgiving morning. He was sent to the store.

Of course, in this case, we sort of had to deviate a teensy bit from tradition, because the reason he was sent to the store is that he was closer to being dressed than I was, and as I put it to him, either he went to the store to get a new box of Swiffer wet pads, or else we would 'get' to mop the entire dining room and kitchen floor on our hands and knees with sponges and rags instead.

And this, of course, is because as I was putting together the green bean casserole Thursday morning in preparation for our trek down the freeways (along with several million other food-bearing people) to my in-laws' place for Thanksgiving, I opened the cupboard door under the kitchen sink to throw something away, and discovered that the trash bag was crawling with ants. As I followed the trail, yelping my disgust, I discovered that they had come from across the kitchen, up the side of the door jamb into the dining room, and after I dove for the bug spray and we were wiping up ants and residual Raid off the kitchen linoleum, Richard discovered a secondary trail into the dining room. Once the first wave of ants was wiped up and I had dragged out the vacuum to suck up all their little dead bodies, I discovered that there were a lot more ants all over the dining room floor and table, randomly scattered here and there. And at that point I realized that we if we did not do *something*, we were going to be coming back home to a house that would be crawling with the nasty little critters. So off he went to the store.

Aside from the ants, however, it really was a marvelous Thanksgiving. Since my dad's in Germany for an assignment, my mom volunteered to be on-call over the holiday (since she is a hospital chaplain) and was going to be all alone on Thanksgiving Day a state, she assured us, she was perfectly comfortable with. So she wouldn't miss out on the whole family gathering thing completely, we had her over to dinner Wednesday night and invited my older sister and her family as well. It was supposed to be a surprise but they hit far more traffic than expected coming down so Mom figured it out before they arrived.

It might as well have been a Thanksgiving feast all on its own from the amount of food. Richard grilled Cornish game hens (split in twos) on the grill with a rosemary rub, and I made the sweet potato and garlic thing that I adore. There was a vat of wild rice and a huge pile of steamed green beans with roasted garlic on top, cranberry sauce, cider mulling on the stove and pumpkin bread freshly baked that afternoon, and gingerbread with whipped cream for dessert. I had to dash out for about 45 minutes in the middle of the festivities because I volunteered to be the accompanist at the Thanksgiving Eve service (which necessitated some rather frantic practicing of the hymns since I didn't actually find out what I was supposed to *play* til Tuesday night), but it all worked out. And the most Thanksgiving-y part of the whole meal was the fact that we ended up cooking enough for twice as many people and so despite my best efforts the fridge is full of leftovers. Well, all except for the gingerbread, which served quite nicely as Thanksgiving breakfast for Richard and I the next morning.

Thanksgiving at Richard's parents' house was a low-key and entertaining affair. There was, naturally, much stuffing of food into our faces, and passing of heaping plates of all manner of good things, and then that was all followed by a rousing rendition of "I'm Henry the 8th, I Am!" at the top of our lungs (No, I have no idea why either except that it was spontaneous and noisy and fun), and then there was pumpkin cheesecake which was just enough to send most of us into a blissful food-induced coma. And in case any of us had had the nerve to recover from all of the eating on Thursday, today included a huge breakfast with chocolate chip waffles and freshly whipped cream, chicken-apple sausage omelets, and copious amounts of coffee to try to fend off the overeating sleepies. We bought ornaments and found a slightly shy but mostly friendly orange cat to pet, and went to a a matineee showing of Elf, which was surprisingly much cuter (although just as predictable) than expected, and then that was all followed by a meal of all the leftovers from yesterday's feast, and the final touch was even more coffee because after all of that food about the only thing any of us want to do is curl up somewhere and take a very long nap. Or at least curl up with the fire place on (now that we are home) and do something that requires absolutely no thought, and certainly no eating.

Although if more pumpkin cheesecake or gingerbread magically appeared right in front of me, forget I ever said anything about being full. It's all about the traditions, after all.

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