Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Swing

I would be remiss if I didn't divulge how Thanksgiving went. It went well! My last nerve was shot trying to fit two brined turkeys in the narrow fridge without leaking turkey juice on everything, but somehow we made it.

We had 19 or 20 people, two from as far as California, and we fit everyone around three tables. It helps to have family ins in the restaurant business for renting all these extra tables and chairs and linens. And yes, the turkeys were moist. I wish I could see a graph showing how the use of the word "moist" jumps in the general population around Thanksgiving since everyone is utterly obsessed with how juicy the turkey is. Brining served us well and the turkey was in no way dry. Everyone who was supposed to bring something, did. I mixed and matched my china: Spode Floral Haven and a delicious blue and white pastoral pattern I inherited. My designer sister showed up with the place cards, menu cards, and family trivia quizzes.

What I wasn't prepared for was gravy duty.

Let's just say that if Uncle Ricky the gravy master hadn't shown up from California on Amtrak, the night would have involved much more time with me at the stove. Much more. I was following the gravy directions in my legit cookbook but it wasn't getting thick. Enter my mother in-law's lookalike older brother. He asks me to find a container with a lid on it to make the cornstarch slurry. I bring him a Fuel Belt bottle. I then proceed to get schooled in gravy making. The high volume of gravy from two large turkeys helped make it less noticeable that we didn't even have a gravy tureen. I think we used pitchers instead, but there was seriously that much gravy. What can I say? I am a planner up to a certain point but do leave room for spontaneity and things always turn out. Though I can seriously hear my grandmothers rolling in their graves over my not owning a gravy tureen.

Did I say family trivia quizzes? Yes. We had everyone submit two lesser-known facts about themselves a few weeks prior, and this got compiled into a quiz. A lot of the trivia was super hard and people kept being like "Well I give UP!" but then the unveiling of who was who was where the real gratification was. Who knew my mother shook hands with President Kennedy or that my sister in-law was an extra in Little Big League? My more notable piece of trivia was that I passed my driver's test in a VW Vanagon, parallel parking and all. (Have you experienced the turning radius of this make of car? Awesome.)

So we now turn our attention to Christmas. I can't explain why but I feel particularly FESTIVE this year. I've never before been so fixated on the concept of greenery. I've decked out the front window box with winter cheer and we're getting our Christmas tree next weekend. Zanna's still a little too young to be genuinely excited about things like seeing Santa, but she does smile, nay, BEAM at the cheery Christmas elf ornament I got her. It's a soft toy of sorts with rosy cheeks and she is quite taken with him.

In my efforts to make the house superlatively holiday cozy, I've also procured some stocking hangers from Bachman's that supposedly fit any size mantel. It turns out Completely Mangling Your Mantel by Abbe is a pamphlet I could write. In truth, it's only one small paint touchup I'll need to do when the stockings come down, but it was a little Clark Griswold. It was either this type of hanger or gigantic picture frame stocking hangers from JoAnn Fabrics that were the exact opposite of what I was looking for. At any rate, stockings are in position.

Also at Bachman's, my mom and I took Zanna to see a little free play called "Santa Busts a Move." Santa was wearing red Converse All-Star high tops and his elf Albert tried to teach him how to dance, these being the key points to remember. Then we got in line for Santa, which thankfully was low-key and free, unlike the total ripoff that Southdale has become, sadness of sadness. It probably doesn't need to be explained that an 18-month-old who is just up from a nap had no interest in sitting with Santa. Luckily Santa was on a loveseat so there was room for me to hold her without having to balance on an armrest, but she still was not into it. I don't blame her. I don't like to take pictures with strangers either, frankly. THINK ABOUT IT.

Next weekend I will attend my first ever cookie exchange with mostly people I don't know. I have no idea what to make. Everyone has already called making all the obvious cookies. Wish me luck!

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