I’m at the library with books stacked to my chin; it’s the Holiday Preamble, a preface to the pudge, a prologue to the pounds. Planning for the holiday season makes me want to smack my mama and roll her in the mud. Gathering lists, comparing recipes, flipping through holiday circulars, it’s all tastier than spoonbread, more toothsome than cider-glazed turkey, sticky sweet sin pudding. I can’t get enough.
This season, however, we’re taking our show on the road, winding our way up to the Treasure Coast, where we’ll be giving thanks at Yiayia’s house.
We’ll be picking up my grandmother “Big Yiayia,” in Delray Beach, then heading north to my mother’s home in Stuart, FL. My sister Lea will be meeting us there, after her drive down from Gainesville (she graduates this January with a degree and license in Chinese Herbs and Medicine and Acupuncture, a nice addition to her massage therapy and cosmetology licenses). I call first!
At my mother’s home: She and her husband Don, Lea, Big Yiayia, Phil, Lucas, Abigail, and their mother, The Glutton. My grandmother, age 96, will be baking cookies and assembling Baklava (she has worked as a chef and caterer, and she spent a lifetime married to, my pappou (pah-pooh), a Greek man named Euripides, so the Greek sweets and appetizers are always aplenty. My mother will bake her cider-thickened apple pie and will construct a salad, roast a bird, reduce a cranberry sauce with pear, nuts, and mandarin orange. As always, she’ll compose a gravy—without saying the word “giblet”. If she uses innards, we needn’t know about it, even though we know about it. Then, she’ll orchestrate a dressing (stuffing) worthy of hymn.
Oh, the stuffing. As an indecisive Libra, I can allow that I’ve always got my hand in it, and I’m never completely satisfied until I’ve taste-tested my way through the options. There’s the traditional sausage, celery, white raisin or apple, sure. There’s the wild mushroom camp. The cornbread addicts. The chestnut fools (Sorry, but chestnuts only smell good. They taste like mealy mush scrotum). Oysters. Sage. Wild rice! How you dress your bird is a decision as paralyzing as how to trim a tree (another obsession of mine).
A few doors down, my aunt will host neighbors and her own children and grandchildren. Then, after dinner, we’ll all gather together at a tented pool reserved for our family, where we’ll binge pick our way through desserts. Together, we’ll be close to twenty-five people, give or take a drumstick.
My job: glorious side dishes and extraordinary desserts. My dream job. Where, oh, where to begin. My answer: the library. One thing I know for sure: I’ll be making a tray of macaroni and cheese at Phil’s request. ‘Cause he likes nothing else on the Thanksgiving table. I can’t believe we’re related.
Previous Thanksgiving Love Notes:
It’s The Thought That Counts, Not The Calories
(This includes links to previous Thanksgiving years)