Sometimes it’s more tiring to get ready for an event than the event itself. Between working at the RMI office and being on my own (i.e.: Dawn is away at college!), it took me days to thoroughly clean the house (it hadn’t been done since before my surgery) and get the house ready for the big day. Our numbers were 16: Dan, me, Dawn, Devon, Amanda & Doug (2 friends of Devon’s), Wes (Devon’s roommate & childhood friend of Devon & Dawn), Andrew (Wes’s brother who came from Ocala), Dave, Rosie & Alyssa (Dan’s brother, sister-in-law & their daughter), Herb & Shirley (Dan’s parents), Ian & Myra (British friends of Mom & Dad) and Pat (our next door neighbor). We had some traditional American dishes as well as an experimental turkey, real Haitian pumpkin soup, real Cuban flan, and real English trifle. Yum! We ate our fill and then some. But first, you have to see Chef Devon in action.
Then 45 minutes later out comes a finished turkey! Frying the turkey was definitely the center of attraction for the day since it was first time. I’ll admit that I had my serious reservations about it! But with the right equipment and a lot of online study of recipes as well as the do’s and don’ts, it actually worked. Everyone enjoyed it [but more importantly it was fun and we didn’t blow up the house!] – it was spiced well, was moist and quicker than the oven. My guess is that we’ll be repeating it. Dawn, Doug, Amanda, Wes and Andrew got put to work making the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and “pink stuff” (a family salad…well maybe it’s a dessert, no one can tell but it’s made with cottage cheese, cool whip, fruit cocktail and Jell-O powder) as well as other things. My kitchen suddenly became too small with every bumping into each other. My mother-in-law proved that she loves me by making the gravy again – she makes a mean gravy! All of us at the “older than 30” table ate way too much. I know because that’s where I sat. And I certainly ate too much! In my own defense…the food was incredible! Everyone did a great job. The 20something table not only ate their fill, they played volleyball for over 1 1/2 hour at the neighborhood sand court then came home, tore into the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. But they weren’t done yet. After the dishes, they left (like a stampeding herd) to go out to a movie.
They know how to make a holiday last and last. The next day most of them went camping for 4 days on the Peace River (a peaceful river about an hour north of us where they go fossil hunting – in the river). You can see the rest of the pictures HERE.
In the weeks preceding Thanksgiving, our Ft. Myers newspaper asked for Thanksgiving stories. I sent one in and was happy to see that they chose to publish it in the Thanksgiving newspaper. Here it is:
The head count for Thanksgiving around our house was usually somewhere from 90 to 100. The menu was as traditional as we could make it….5 turkeys, stuffing (lots and lots of stuffing!), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top and pumpkin pie. Our front yard was turned into an outdoor banquet hall…lights were strung, tables and chairs were brought in, tablecloths and decorations were set out. It took days, sometimes weeks to organize. Living in southwest Haiti for 25 years, we enjoyed the chance to celebrate American holidays when we could. We also wanted our 2 kids to learn about the various holidays and traditions of their home culture. For many years, every ex-patriot in the whole region was invited to come join us for American Thanksgiving. Canadians, German, Swiss, South African, Congolese, French, and Dutch joined us. Real Butterball turkeys were brought in from the US (as well as many other uniquely American foods). It was a huge potluck with very few leftovers!
We moved to Southwest Florida 5 ½ years ago and to be honest, I was a little relieved to have a smaller crowd for Thanksgiving. Having grown up in a household where hospitality was the order of the day, my kids have missed those large gatherings. Our last few Thanksgivings have included the kids’ roommates, brothers of roommates, and a girlfriend or two. Today I asked our older neighbor, who has no family, to join us. Last week, our 24 yr. old son called to tell me that not only were the usual extras coming, but 2 more friends of his who don’t have any family. (“And mom, we want to cook. Give us some dishes to make…some hard, interesting ones not something that comes out of a bag like a dumb salad!” No problem there. With 10 of the 20 people around the tables in their mid-20’s, you can bet I’ll be putting them all to work! ) So, our tradition of hospitality continues, and is clearly a value ingrained in my kids for which I am grateful.
Well, we didn’t have 100 people for Thanksgiving this year, but we found that 16 was just fine! In fact the whole day was “mighty fine”.