A Thanksgiving Tale


How time flies…

It must have already been two weeks ago that we finally got around to giving Sara a birthday party for her 15th (I know her birthdays in August, we’re just a little slow, thats all). She was finally ready, everybody was free, and so it was a go. The question was…what to do. Skating, bowling, movies, arcades, magic shows, etc…..we’d been there before. So I suggested an idea that I first heard and laughed at years ago….a formal dinner party for the girls. She loved the idea, but insisted on a sleepover as well. I agreed on the condition that there would be a maximum of twelve invitees. The phone began to buzz with plans; what to wear, etc….

I realized early on that these girls talk plenty more than they eat, and that the food was probably the least important component of this party. So I turned my attention to everything else. I got Daniel and a friend to dress nicely and act as waiters (cute boys are always welcome everywhere…) and did my shopping at Costco. Various ready-made hot hors d’oevres and cold with Martinellis sparkling “champagne” cider I thought would take them through the “happy hour”. For dinner, a pretty salad course, a soup (powdered), frozen ravioli, precooked shrimp and nuked veggies in addition to dessert was decided upon. We felt that the artistic arrangement of the food was twice what the food itself was (by the way, that turned out to be all too true). I pulled out the crystal, china and silver to make the table look formal. Some garden roses highlighted with bowls of floating candles were added for “mood”.

At six the girls began to arrive…in their party dresses, shining heels, sparkling faces….they were absolutely adorable. The boys began to circulate with trays of hors d’oevres and glasses filled with “champagne”. They were thirstier than anything else, and I can tell you that the little lushes finished four bottles before the evening was out. I think the constant patter necessitated at least half the drinking.

At seven they were seated at the table, and the courses began to run in and out. As I had predicted, the amount of food eaten from each course was about two spoons worth, but the funniest part was how the girls admired the food I had made. The soup, a mix of two powders spiked with sherry, was the most delicious they had ever tasted. Ravioli, with bay shrimp and frozen vegetables (arranged nicely) was treated like a gourmet feast unlike any they had ever known (and the only thing they consistently finished was the 4 raviolis on their plate)…..it really made me laugh to hear them talk. Meanwhile, the boys and I were frantically arranging plates in the kitchen and absolutely rolling in hysterics as the shrimp and pearl onions went flying through the air.

The dirty plates were piling up and piling up. Sara had insisted that she wanted a fruit tart for dessert and had promised to make it, as I had told her I would serve, nicely, anything that she picked, but that I wasn’t really “cooking”. Naturally, getting ready took so much time that I ended up responsible for the fruit tart…actually, she made the first batch of dough, but I happened to lick my finger and realized that she had literally dumped the baking powder into the recipe. I advised her not to serve a dessert with a crust as salty as an old sailor, and reluctantly volunteered to remake it myself. She had prepared all the fruits, and I was to roll out and bake the crust, make the pastry cream, and assemble.

Well, I did make the crust. In fact, I made two recipes, because she had cut up so much fruit. I did this before the girls arrived and put them in the refrigerator to cool. After the soup was served, I rolled out the first pastry circle and put it in to bake. When it was golden brown I took it out of the oven to cool. I realized soon after that the importance of first greasing the cookie sheet. It was firmly stuck in the middle and had no intention of budging. I tried using various spatulas, but it simply set the crust to begin crumbling, like the cookie that it was. Recalling my days at the pottery wheel, I decided that a length of floss, held firmly and run under the cookie crust would loosen it. I called Daniel, and admonished him to hold firmly to the cookie sheet. He did, and as I ran the floss under the crust, it crumbled in place. We could barely control ourselves. Daniel kept making little remarks like “Gee, that was a GREAT idea, mom!” “Worked like a charm, it did!” and the more comments he made the more I collapsed in a heap, giggling. At this point, the kitchen crew was crying tears from so much laughter….I sent them out to refill the “champagne” glasses while I thought of a new idea. We pulled out another bunch of plates and started cutting up the fruit I had that was still intact, and pieces of cheese and tiny frozen eclairs, which we microwaved. As all of this was finally arranged on plates, I sent them out to the dining room with it, which they did. The girls were so engrossed in conversation, they could have been served gumballs and it would have been fine. What a cacaphony of chatter! They were bubbly and effervescent, far more than any bottle of champagne ever was. It was a delight to hear them.

Shortly thereafter they all changed into their pajamas and went out to bounce on the trampoline, laughing and chatting all the while. I turned my attentions to the wreck that the kitchen had become, and began to make order. The boys were thanked and dismissed with their movie entries and snack money, and disappeared promptly. The second cookie crust turned out better and was finished and set out. The girls returned to eat yet another dessert (they had been saving room for this all along). (By the way, they did, between running in and out all night, finish up every crumb of the first shortbread circle).

This touched off another giggling round of discussions from the dining room, which I could hear clearly from the now-empty kitchen. And as I was busy doing the dishes, I listened to their chatter, not as words or thoughts, but almost as music, and it spoke to me in a way I never heard before. I heard, in their voices, the hopefullness, the unbridled energy, the bright future that awaits each of them today. Before their hearts are ever broken or their hopes ever really crushed, as they meet whatever Life has to dish out to each of them. And I realized how fleeting this time is. So I sat down to listen to it, and hear whatever it had to say, to savor and keep as a memory.

So I sat down on a chair in the kitchen to listen to them, and was reminded of all the like moments we have already passed…the excited “look at me” stage of early childhood, when the din of their impatient demands were so cute one couldn’t help but smile. And I realized, perhaps for the first conscious time, how absolutely we are past that stage, and how soon this, too shall pass. I was grateful for the opportunity I had been given, to be stopped in my tracks to look and see how precious this time really is. So easily we get engrossed in this and that and forget to stop and see those things. It was such a sweet moment I thought I’d share it with you.

Thats all the news for now…….I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving…