Joy comes in serving

I know for a fact that not one man among the Thanksgiving crowd who will descent upon my house has made a list. If you are the meal organizer in your household, you know exactly the list to which I am referring: The one detailing who will be attending; what housekeeping needs to be accomplished before the crowd arrives; the ingredients necessary for the main courses, side dishes, desserts and beverages; the order in which the dishes must go into the oven; the table accoutrements that need to be purchased; and last but certainly not least—the time the meal will be served!

Ah, it’s nearly Thanksgiving and the females in my family are on the phone about as often, to strategize and plan the meal, as a whole lot of men were some weeks ago when hunting season opened. Such an acknowledgment would have bothered me some years ago when I didn’t want to be constrained by social/sexual norms. But I’m over that now. I like it that my husband gets up early with me to prepare the turkey because it’s heavy and cumbersome to work with in the sink. I like it that I will hurry around all day and be the last one to sit down. That way I can gaze at those seated, acknowledging that deeply embedded in the feast prepared for them is a message: Extra effort has gone into creating our meal because they are loved and we are oh, so thankful.

What will your Thanksgiving meal look like this year? What must you eat for it to feel like Thanksgiving? In case you were wondering, the turkey eaters and the ham aficionados are evenly divided at my house. But there is a united front when it comes to potatoes: there must be a huge mound of mashed potatoes and gravy nearby to slather across the top. We are pumpkin pie fans as well. A dollop of whipped cream as a garnish is also required. Some of us can take or leave the cranberry sauce, but an apple crisp, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, is preferred over traditional apple pie. I’m a little relieved ... it’s a whole lot easier!

I happen to be a huge fan of dressing, baked in a separate dish and not inside the turkey to lower the fat content. And it has got to be cornbread based, if you please -- with pecans, onions, water chestnuts, celery, sausage, and fresh parsley. It needs to be moist and fluffy on the inside with slightly crispy edges.

The men in my life are easy: All they request is a green bean casserole with fried onions across the top and floor space when the meal is done. They are a rather predictable group and do not care when the meal is ready. They do, however, insist on nibbling samples as the food is being prepared without having to always grab a fork. They also relish in the one day the cooks will happily build a plate of leftovers for them so they can revisit the tastes of Thanksgiving while continuing to watch football and play video games or cards.

Is it OK to purchase a pecan pie and canned gravy? Absolutely, just as it is more than OK to cook a frozen lasagna if you are feeling unconventional. And what if you don’t cook at all? Maybe you can contribute by hand washing the crystal or offering to bring the holiday styled paper plates! You might even consider hanging up the towel this holiday and volunteering at Oak Harbor’s community Thanksgiving meal, instead. The joy comes in the serving. Begin to forge your plans and pray. It will speak volumes of your love and enrich your own experience with faith.

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