About a year ago, my life, and that of my entire family, changed drastically. In some ways, the year has passed quickly, and in other ways, it seems to have lasted forever. Getting to this point in the year, to Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, has often times been a struggle, and I wasn’t sure whether the upcoming holiday season would be welcome at our house.
While Thursday was certainly stressful, it turned out to be a good day, the beginning of what I suppose is a next chapter.
We celebrated Thanksgiving much in the same way we always have, beginning Wednesday night when good friends came over to eat potato soup and drink a glass of wine before Thanksgiving began in earnest the next day. Thursday morning, we went to the annual Children’s Therapy Center Thanksgiving ham breakfast, which we have attended every year we have been in Sedalia, which now totals 32. We saw people we haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving, and Emily reconnected with many of the people she used to know when she was the dining room hostess at the Sedalia Country Club during her high school years.
I hoped for a nap after we got home, but, as usual, it was not to be – not if we wanted to have dessert after the turkey. So while Emily fell asleep in the chair and Max washed Emily’s car, I continued to cook while “The Godfather” played on AMC in the background. Every now and then, I had to stop my activity to see a particular scene, but in the end, the dessert was finished – a pumpkin trifle.
The trifle begins with either vanilla pudding or crème Anglaise, and because it was Thanksgiving and not just any old day, I made crème Anglaise from scratch, stirring the custard carefully and forever so it would not curdle. The next layer is whipped cream, the next is pumpkin bread, and the final layer is pumpkin butter, which is like apple butter, only made with pumpkin puree. It was beautiful!
About the time the trifle was ready to put in the refrigerator, my nephew Brian, his wife Katie, their friend John, and my mother showed up. So instead of sitting, I put together snacks to get everybody through to dinnertime, which then looked to be about 4. At 4, the Brussels sprouts were cooked, the party potatoes were done, the cranberry sauce was ready, the sweet potatoes were smashed, but the turkey was still pink. We didn’t sit down to eat until 5:30. What a day to find out that my oven thermostat is not working properly!
What took me about three days to prepare took about 17 minutes to devour. It was about that time that I remembered the dressing. I had made dressing Wednesday to get it out of the way. It was certainly out of the way… in the refrigerator in the basement. It will be a nice addition to the leftover turkey.
We excused ourselves from the table and went to the living room to rest from the strenuous eating, and then we had dessert. Everyone wanted brownies and coffee ice cream. The beautiful pumpkin trifle is still beautiful and intact.
My mother was tired, and so Katie took her home, and finally, I sat down. I made everybody watch “Miracle on 34th Street” with Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, and Natalie Wood. It was then that my Thanksgiving was complete.
Regardless of the changes that have turned our lives upside down, I discovered the traditions of my favorite holiday helped us get through the next part of the new chapter. I also came to realize that most life chapters are just chapters, and they will begin and end for as long as we live, some more pleasant than others. It’s our job to navigate through them with as much grace as possible – and hope that life and its moments of joy carry us through.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.