Thanksgiving Eve

A table for 13 waits for guests to arrive.

A table for 13 waits for guests to arrive.

I love the day before Thanksgiving. It’s living proof of the axiom, “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.”

I cooked my big, white butt off today. The menu is dizzyingly extensive, and it’s sized to feed around 12 adult humans. As usual, I did as much prep work as possible — it’s the only way to do Thanksgiving, in my opinion.

The list-making started months ago. Here are my four "go-lists" taped to the kitchen cabinet closest to my stove.

The list-making started months ago. Here are my four “go-lists” taped to the kitchen cabinet closest to my stove.

The potatoes are mashed and awaiting a heated rendez-vous with a ton of buttermilk. The stuffing is baked and only needs a bit of browning in the oven. The bird is bathing in brine, and the ham is being a nice, low-maintenance ham. Cranberries have been chopped, wept, and in some cases, jellied with orange peel.

Eugene the turkey.

Eugene the turkey.

I managed to fit everything into the fridge. This required a thorough fridge-cleaning sesh while the first dishes were baking.

I managed to fit everything into the fridge. This required a thorough fridge-cleaning sesh while the first dishes were baking.

And I’ve rearranged the furniture and set the table and trimmed the flowers and cleaned the guest room, trying to anticipate any possible last-minute disasters, which will inevitably happen anyhow.

I only had 8 napkin rings, so this kitchen string is standing in.

I only had 8 napkin rings, so this kitchen string is standing in.

Finally, after nearly 12 hours of work, I can rest a bit and reflect. Sure, I worry that the rutabaga gratin will prove to have the consistency of a half-set cobblestone road. I worry that the brine for the turkey (name of Eugene, don’t ask) doesn’t taste quite right with herbes de Provence and lemon.

A truly tasty cranberry-orange jam/relish hybrid.

A truly tasty cranberry-orange jam/relish hybrid.

But I have to remind myself that I’ve done everything I can, and that no matter what I wake up to tomorrow, Thanksgiving is going to be wonderful.

It’s not really about the food and the centerpieces. As I get older, I give thanks for the truly important stuff: Family, friends, love, health, life. All the trimmings are just a celebration of and tribute to those core components that make existence worthwhile.

I hope you all have a beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving dessert table is where Advent begins at our house.

The Thanksgiving dessert table is where Advent begins at our house.

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