In the end, it was one of the quietest days of the year.
After months of developing recipes, filming videos, working on an Ipad app, making the feast several times over for filming and photographs, both Danny and I worried that we would be utterly exhausted of Thanksgiving on the day we were meant to make it. I kept joking, sort of: “Can’t we just go out for Thai food?” (It turns out the Thai restaurant on Vashon is closed this week for renovations. Darn.)
I’m glad we didn’t go for Thai. We had a lovely Thanksgiving day.
My parents came over, along with my brother, my sister-in-law, their wonderful son, her brother, and a colleague of hers from work who didn’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving. Danny and I prepped in the kitchen the day before, when Lucy was at preschool. The night before, Lu stood on a chair beside me, cracked eggs by herself and watch them disappear into the pumpkin puree in the bowl of the stand mixer. She kept singing to herself, “I’m making pie with Mama!” (And I’m so glad that Danny snapped this photograph.) This was one of the best moments of the entire month.
The morning of the meal, Danny cooked and cooked as I played with Lu. We intended for all three of us to be in there, but I was slammed by the same stomach flu that hit Lucy a few days before. It wasn’t what we planned.
When is life ever what we planned?
We snapped a few photographs when the meal was laid out on the table. And then we put away our phones. We stopped answering questions from cooks and bakers frantic with worry and writing to us on Facebook. We put away the rest of the world.
We sat at the table with our family and new friend, laughing. We passed plates of food, sharing what we had learned, hungry and happy to have everyone there. We paused for a moment — well, not my brother — to take it all in. And then we dived in.
After all the planning, prepping, baking, cooking, and plating, dinner only took about 30 minutes. If that.
It was lovely.
Afterwards, there were ridiculous board games, the living room a muddle of eagerly shouted answers and laughter spilling out. My parents had brought a copy of Outburst from 1995, the only one in their cupboard. It’s amazing how quickly what feels urgent and relevant goes forgotten. The scandals and passions are mostly the same, the names and faces the only ones changed. I have to remind myself of this all the time.
As it grew darker and later, Lu beamed and bounced around the room, fed by the energy of her beloved cousin’s attention. Elliott kept asking, “Lucy, can you tell us about another recipe?” And she gesticulated widely, demonstrating how to layer mayonnaise and sushi, banana mush and soup on top of each other to make some concoction called Schister. We all laughed, amazed. And then Elliott asked for more stories, more food. She was so tired she turned goofy but she kept going.
I think that love and attention will be her fondest memory of this year’s Thanksgiving.
Here’s what I’ve been thinking about today. The food itself? It really doesn’t matter. It’s the vehicle that drives us toward the table, toward all that laughter and easy banter, the sitting back in our chairs before we clear the table, the board games, the memories, and the goading for more stories. Those are what matter.
Thanksgiving dinner could be spaghetti with meatballs or ice-cold fresh oysters or slow-roasted pork. For years now, I’ve wanted Thanksgiving to be a potluck, with all my favorite people, family and friends, where everyone brings his or her favorite dish of all time. Now that would be a celebration.
But for some reason, we’ve decided as a culture that we need this super-starchy, all-the-textures-the-same, routine meal. And then so many of us work ourselves into a lather to make sure that the pumpkin pie and gravy look exactly the way they did last year, even if we can no longer eat gluten.
Especially if we can no longer eat gluten.
This is why Danny and I worked so hard, along with our dear friends Debra and Rod, to make over 20 cooking videos, demonstrating how to make each component of Thanksgiving, gluten-free. This is why we worked for months with our friend Pableaux to make an iPad app, all about the baking required for a gluten-free Thanksgiving. Our hope was that those videos, the recipes, the app would bring people ease.
I hope that they helped some of you.
But now, I have to say, we’re done. We’ve been posting a video and recipe nearly every day of November. We were so intent on making Thanksgiving easy and delicious for the imagined audience that we almost didn’t enjoy our own Thanksgiving.
Next year, we’ll create a post, listing all these videos and recipes that someone might need to make a gluten-free Thanksgiving. And then I don’t think I’ll ever mention the day again.
Maybe next year we’ll have that potluck.
I think I like the day after Thanksgiving even better than the big one. Expectations gone. No need to move too quickly. Nothing to get done, especially because we don’t go shopping. It’s pumpkin pie for breakfast with a big cup of coffee. It’s stuffing with gravy and a fried egg. It’s leftovers and naps and board games and long walks.
So if you’re wondering what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers, we have a few videos left for you. The recipes are underneath the videos. You can get them there.
And if you’re tired all those carbs and starches, make turkey lettuce cups with pear and walnuts.
We hope that you enjoy these. And we hope that you’ve enjoyed this month of cooking videos and recipes.
With that, we’re done for a bit. To tell you the truth, this has been exhausting. We’ve been posting nearly every day, in spite of the stomach flu, cancelled preschool days, finishing the last edits of our cookbook, taking up new gigs, and dealing with family matters. We’ve been answering questions left and right, trying to calm those of you were pissed at us that we did an iPad app instead of an Android app or an ebook, and working hard to keep up with everything else. We need a break.
And we want some time to find our own way again. We thought that we should provide a service for gluten-free Thanksgiving. I haven’t had the chance to really write in weeks. We haven’t been making our own food. We want to make this place our recipe journal again, instead of doing what we think people want. I want some time to watch for the light, to be grateful I am not dead, to simply be.
So we’ll be back on Monday, December 3rd, with new stories, recipes, and homemade videos, created slowly, with love.
Have a good rest of November, everyone.