I just wrote this for the Delaware County Mothers & More newsletter.
Thanksgiving is a big holiday in our family. This year, Jack’s birthday falls on it, and Will’s a week later. After Jack’s birth, Thanksgiving dinner was the first solid meal I had after my C-section. And, in case you had any doubt, a holiday dinner in the hospital is about as solid as it gets. That gluey stuffing made almost made me yearn again for broth and Jell-O.
For our family, Thanksgiving and birthdays are the same extended holiday, a festival of thanks. So far the boys have always agreed to share a birthday celebration, to consolidate the party spirit and save Mommy and Daddy’s wits. One year my brother Dan cooked and brought the turkey, and will do it again this year. Dan and I are both control freaks in the kitchen so I have learned to delegate a dish completely to him and have him cook it at his own house.
We pull out all the stops and polish my grandmother’s silver and rinse off my mother’s china. I get out a delicate ivory linen tablecloth that my grandmother used. Instead of ironing the tablecloth like Nana did, I spritz it all over with water and put it in the dryer for ten minutes. This was my own idea and I’m sure it’s heresy, but only Martha Stewart’s staff would ever iron a large linen tablecloth these days.
One year, I made up a binder and labeled it “Holidays.” I felt sort of silly doing it, but I was tired of reinventing the wheel every year. I save my to-do lists from the previous year and the notes I have added, as well as recipes that have been successful and new ones I want to try. Breaking open that binder in November every year is strangely rewarding. It makes it so much easier to get started. Last year my in-laws were here and they love to be put to work, so together we washed china and linens, polished silver, vacuumed, and shopped. The hum of activity was somehow rejuvenating, as was the scent of cranberry sauce cooking and pumpkin pie baking. I leave you with the recipe for my family’s favorite cranberry sauce, simple and delicious. Let us give thanks.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
12-oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries (3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in zest, then cool.
• Cranberry sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.