By popular demand, I am publishing the letter I sent to my friends the day after Thanksgiving:
The joke each Thanksgiving is that I assign a dish to everyone in the family except my bachelor brother, who is in charge of bringing celery salt. But lately he has been recording cooking videos on YouTube. So I told him he needed to bring a dish this time and we settled on green beans.
This year there were only 10 of us for dinner at my house and I told everyone to arrive at 2pm and we would eat around 3 or 3:30. I chopped so many onions that I couldn’t open my eyes so Bob helpfully suggested I try wearing my swim goggles. I would like all of you to take a moment and picture me chopping 13 onions in my kitchen while wearing my swim goggles….
I made turkey wrapped in bacon (stuffed with onion), carrot souffle, carmelized brussels sprouts with bacon (and chopped onion), rolls, corn pudding, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, homemade gravy with calvados brandy, chestnut sausage dressing (with chopped onion) and then a second!!! dressing made from cornbread that was all vegan (with chopped onion). I made this for my brother. Who was late.
He called to say he’d had to work on the paper because 3 people didn’t show up so he’d be a little late arriving. He needed to prepare the beans at my house and he still had to buy the ingredients at the store. He would not be at my house until around 2pm. I told him that was fine because we were not eating until around 3 or 3:30. So he’d have plenty of time to fix his green beans.
At 3pm I had my mother call him to find out where he was.
At 3:30 he showed up with all the supplies, full of apologies.
And then he said, “this will only take about 40 minutes.”
And I said, “……………..”
So with every single dish ready and staying warm in the oven and the turkey sitting covered in tin foil we swung into action.
I’d had a pot of water boiling since 2:30 because I figured he would need it for something and this would rush things. (Note to everyone, always have a pot of hot water boiling at every emergency.) I made my mom and dad clean the green beans because my brother didn’t even have the foresight to buy pre-cleaned beans!
He started chopping the onions and he cut his thumb and bled all over the chopping board.
I took over with a fresh chopping board and a new onion and promptly cut my finger almost to the bone and bled all over the board, the floor, the drawer, the onion and the kitchen counter. I’m surprised it didn’t hit the ceiling, quite frankly.
“Mom,” I said very calmly as I wrapped my finger in a kitchen towel. “Could you please wipe up all my blood for me?”
“Of course dear,” she replied. “I’d be happy to.” She then turned to my dad and said, “Jack, you’re on your own with the beans.”
And my Dad said, “I’ve always wondered what it felt like to be a Sous Chef.”
I made Bob inspect my finger because he is braver than I when it comes to blood and it was determined after much discussion between Bob, Uncle Jim, and my Dad that I did NOT need stitches – a good firm compress would be fine. So Bob found band-aids and wrapped me up, using two band-aids and speaking to me very sternly about being more careful in the future. And then I jumped back into action.
The beans were completed in 30 minutes. Everyone helped bring the rest of the food to the dining room table which I had decorated beautifully with gourds and fall flowers and candles. Two of my grandchildren (Eli and Kendall) were there, both of whom charmed everyone. And my dad said grace and thanked the Lord that I did not kill my brother. Which, quite frankly, no court in America would have convicted me for, had I decided to stab him with the kitchen knife.
My mother commented later that she was amazed at how calm I was during the entire afternoon. The truth is, that in the grand scheme of things I just felt so grateful that I was surrounded by people I love, with my grandchildren running around under foot, and with my husband completely oblivious to all the commotion while watching football and teaching Eli a new wrestling slam move every time he passed by that I found myself full of grace and gratitude.
Now the holiday is over and we have jumped back into work. And here is what I wish for all of you as we move into the Christmas/Hanukkah season. That each of you take a moment every day and find something special in your lives that fill you with grace and gratitude for what you have, the people whom you love and those that love you in return. Just as I love all of you.