Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turkey Eating

I grew up with Thnksgivings at home with my mom, my brother, often two missionaries, and sometimes a person or two with no other place to go. It was small, but meaningful, and certainly very yummy. My mom made little traditions to make us stop and think about the meanng of the day. Two days after Thanksgiving, we'd feast again with my Dad and my stepmom. This generally included salmon loaf, apple pie, and Grandma's banana-pineapple Jell-o salad. At least one year, Amy made a delicious pumpkin ice cream pie, that I think was a recipe from her mom.

As great as that all may sound, I used to long to be part of a bigger crowd. My dad's family all met together every year in San Diego, and I thought that must be the way to have a holiday. Four, six, seven people--that was not quite in the category of "celebration" to me.

The first time that I experienced one of these San Diego affairs was when I was a sophomore in college. I came down from Utah with a cousin and her family and stayed with my uncle. That was a fun trip, but the fun had more to do with the time I spent with two female cousins and just being away from school. The actual dinner was interesting. These events more closly resemble a ward pot luck than a Thanksgiving dinner. It's in a chapel--boys are shooting hoops in the cultural hall, girls are watching them from the stage and little kids are running amok. Parents and grandparents are in the kitchen warming up and putting the finishing touches on what has been prepared at home. A buffet table set up in the hall leads to giant round tables in what I am guessing is the Relief Society room, decorated in theme. The food is much better than your regular pot luck, I will grant, but for me the dinner is just overwhelming and uncomfortable.

My first Thanksgiving after getting married, we already had one kid and had moved about two miles from my in-laws. That first one was rough. Men watched football, and women did food and clean-up. I had a six-week old baby, and was pretty miserable. Those family events got a little bettter, then a little worse. As more people joined the family by marriage or birth, my mother-in-law felt the need for more organization. There was a time when there were games and crafts for the kids and crafts for the women all scheduled and set up like some mass homemaking meeting/activity day. She's never organized anything for the men--they always have football. This has let up a bit, but there is usually some craft involved still--I hear this year we're doing little glass snowmen. But the only way to avoid going to Larry's family dinner is to decide to go to the San Diego one instead. We've done it a few years, but honestly, now that I have recipes for both Uncle Tim's mashed potatoes and Grandma's orange rolls, I have little need for that kind of Thanksgiving.

My dream is to do the big day up here. Just us, maybe some friends. I could make MY stuffing and MY yams and MY pumpkin pie--maybe even the ice cream pie. The mountain scenery would remind me that I am thankful for where I live, and sitting at a table with my kids would reinforce how grateful I am for my family. My house would smell good, my kitchen would be warm. My slippers would be just down the hall and my sofa would be waiting only for me to finish my turkey. It would indeed be small--six, eight, maybe twelve people. And that would now be my definitave celebration.

1 fishy comments:

Jenn said...

I'm definitely a holidays at home kinda' girl. The first year we were married, we went to the ILs. They had tables in the dining room, kitchen, living room, family room, and backyard, to accomodate their family of nearly 40 (including grandkids, etc), plus 2-3 pairs of missionaries, and any random ward stragglers. It was too many people for me, and I don't like MIL's cooking, LOL.

Since then, with the exception of 2 years that we've gone to my parents (once because 2 of my brothers were about to leave on missions), we've just done it at home with our little family (and maybe a good friend or two). I MUCH prefer it that way. Gatherings of immediate family and maybe a few close friends are SO much nicer.