Friday, November 29, 2013

Smiles, Love, and Food

So often, holidays do not live up to expectations. For me, this is usually true of Thanksgiving. We've gone to different places the last couple years and so it just hasn't felt very traditional lately. With so many families to try to include, it has been hard to find our "place."

When we go to other peoples' house, it doesn't always feel right. Everyone is on their best behavior. But my family is loud and crazy. To me, holidays are just not the same when there isn't loudness, people fighting for food, and trying to talk over each other.

Also, somehow the stress of the holidays always results in tension between my husband and I. This is the single biggest holiday killer and has a domino effect on everything else going on that day. But yesterday was perfect in every way.

Yesterday, the kids woke me up at 7:00 am and, after making them a fancy breakfast of crepes stuffed with eggs, chicken meatballs, and cheese (which they totally did not appreciate), I got to work cooking for dinner. I made this sweet potato casserole recipe. This recipe for scalloped potatoes. And my favorite ricotta gnocchi recipe. It was all so amazing!

In total, I spent four hours in the kitchen, sipping a vanilla cappuccino, singing along to the music of Annie, and taste-testing as I cooked. My husband got the kids started on coloring hand turkeys and every other minute, one of the kids would storm into the kitchen, grinning from ear to ear, to proudly show me their art.

I was done cooking by noon and got to putter around the house and hang out with the kids. My sister, whose husband is overseas, came by to join us for Thanksgiving. We hung out and created a very amateur, impromptu Thanksgiving skit for the kids to act out, complete with costumes (nothing Martha Stewart would approve of!) The skit and the costumes came together in less than an hour, thanks to our pathetic creativity, leftover Halloween felt, and a hot glue gun.

It was awesome having my sister there for Thanksgiving since I couldn't be with my parents or other siblings. She helped me bring more chaos and loudness to the Thanksgiving celebration and was my partner in crime for our grand performance. She was also there to snap a rare family photo.

The kids loved that they got to eat olives and grapes for dinner (and only olives and grapes)

Then we had our grand performance. My sister was the narrator. Jacob was the Pilgrim. I had to be the Indian since my nephew (for whom I had designed the part) was not too trilled about the idea. With some coaxing and with the promise of going into the hot tub, we convinced my nephew and niece to be Turkey 1 and Turkey 2. Please note my fantastic turkey costumes on the right:

We only did a couple pre-performance run throughs but Jacob memorized all his lines well and impressed the heck out of me. He just may have a future in theater.

Here we are singing our Turkey Song: "I like big butterballs and I cannot lie."

At the end of the day we all gathered in the living room to chat while the older kids were upstairs playing. Ryan, getting a rare opportunity to have all the adult attention to himself, stood in the middle of the living room entertaining everyone. He kept taking a funny exaggerated stance, pointing his pointer-finger at everyone (including the dogs) and yelling "shoot, shoot!" (something wonderful he learned from his older brother). Then he kept marching around in circles, totally hamming it up, and doing pig impressions until he would make himself laugh too hard to keep going.

Ryan is usually the quiet, overlooked child in a large gathering of people because he is so content and easy going and shy. But he has such a big, lovable personality which he usually reserves just for his parents and grandparents. It was wonderful to see him take a turn in the spotlight.

We got home, tucked the kids right into bed and snuggled on the couch to catch up on our favorite shows (Homeland and Boardwalk Empire). Then we just sat and reflected on the wonderful day and our home full of blessings.

The day was so full of smiles, our hearts full of love, our bellies full of food, and our glasses full of champagne. It was a fantastic day.


  1. So glad you had such a blessed Thanksgiving! Not an easy feat with 2 little kids!

  2. Love this! Happy thanksgiving!