THANKSGIVING DAY GIVING

It’s not that we don’t have seasons in Houston — it’s just that they tend to not be very dramatic.  It’s been unseasonably warm this fall — too warm for the leaves to turn color — and the signs that Thanksgiving was approaching were subtle.  One clue was the ripening pecans hanging in clusters, which made the squirrels very happy:

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Another clue was the appearance of acorns.  I pass some kind of oak tree on my way to work that had the BIGGEST acorns I’ve ever seen:

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There was an occasional colored leaf:

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Soon, turkeys started going on sale at the grocery store, along with canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and Pepperidge Farm stuffing, leaving no doubt that Thanksgiving was nearing.  And that meant it was time for my son’s Boy Scout Troop’s 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Day Luncheon for senior citizens living in and around our little community.

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When my son was working on his Eagle project (a fence around utility structures in a neighborhood park), a city employee suggested that the Troop might consider hosting this luncheon, which had been abandoned 5 or 6 years ago by the group that had previously hosted it.  Sure, why not?

Last year we had 19 guests, but this year word spread and we had close to 50.  Through donations of ingredients and dollars, we were able to provide a mostly home-cooked meal (meats and pies were purchased) of roast turkey with gravy, smoked ham, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, Southern-style corn, green bean casserole, fresh cranberry relish, vanilla cranberry sauce, rolls and butter, and assorted pies with whipped cream.

We did most of the cooking two days before, using Senior Services’ well-equipped kitchen.

img_3821The day before, Troop volunteers set up the activity room.  Working within our budget and the fact that we had to use paper and plastic tableware, I think we managed to make the room look worthy of our guests.

Our guests started arriving about 30 minutes before the start of the meal, and it gave us an opportunity to visit with them.  They were excited to be joining us, and many came elegantly dressed.  The room was buzzy with happy chatter.

The scouts did a great job of serving up the meal and interacting with the guests:

We sent each guest home with leftovers, for later in the day (because really, it isn’t Thanksgiving without leftovers):

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Each guest also received a festively-wrapped loaf of homemade Pumpkin Ginger Bread or Cranberry Orange Bread, for snacking on later in the day:

I’ve previously posted the recipes for Pumpkin Ginger Bread and Cranberry Orange Quick Bread.  These are such great little loaves — fragrant and moist, not too sweet.

The luncheon was a great success, and I enjoyed it as much as our guests.  As one of our guests was leaving, he called me over and said “I only have one complaint — everything was so good that I have nothing to complain about.”  He gave a little chuckle and said “That’s my joke.”  That’s the kind of complaint I love to hear!  I hope you got lots of “complaints” this Thanksgiving as well.  🙂

 

THANKSGIVING RECAP

You know how you always felt a little bit sorry for the kids who had Christmas birthdays?  It’s one thing to have the same birthday as a celebrity.  For example, I have the same birthday as Channing Tatum.  (You can see who you share a birthday with here.)  But sharing a birthday with our lord and savior — that’s another story.  Not to mention kind of getting stiffed on the birthday gifts, which inevitably got combined with the Christmas gifts (“I got you this for your birthday AND Christmas.”)  Well, I think having a Thanksgiving birthday must be almost as bad.

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Because every kid dreams of a turkey-themed birthday party, right?  Look at that turkey sharing the limelight with the birthday cake.  That is just wrong.  You can imagine the birthday party invitations — “Our little turkey is turning 5!”  Instead of a beautiful unicorn or fire truck piñata, the partygoers most likely get to bust one open that’s shaped like a pilgrim hat, probably filled with candy corn.  I’m guessing each guest gets a little loaf of pumpkin bread as a party favor.  Yep, I think it would suck to have a Thanksgiving birthday.

Maybe the only thing worse than having to have your birthday cake at Thanksgiving dinner is to not have Thanksgiving dinner at all.  The first year I was out on my own, working as a nurse, both my roommate and I had to work Thanksgiving day.  I remember sitting in the break room eating the egg salad sandwich I’d brought with me, and thought, “this sucks.”  From that point on, even if we had to work, we always cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, and invited other hospital friends who were working a shift or couldn’t leave because they were on call.  Those were some great dinners.

Thanksgiving dinner with family, now that did not suck at all.  In fact, I really enjoyed it.  Although the meal is always essentially the same — we probably ate pretty much the same thing you and yours did — there were lots of changes in the family this year.  A first Thanksgiving home from college, a recent engagement, a new driver, a few empty chairs due to a pending divorce.  In 2011, I thought we were having our last Thanksgiving with my father-in-law, but I am delighted to share that we have had 3 Thanksgivings since then and are looking forward to many more.

We had a little snap of freezing weather recently, which rewarded us with glorious fall colors, not usually associated with autumn in Texas.  The crape myrtles, sycamores, tallows, and maples all got in on the act.  The vivid foliage combined with the cooler temperatures we’ve been enjoying, definitely made it feel more Thanksgiving-ish:

A repurposed Halloween pumpkin stood ready to welcome everyone:

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I made a silly turkey centerpiece for the kids table:

 I didn’t say it looked exactly like a turkey

And glittered some acorns to scatter around the grown-ups table (I know what you’re thinking):

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 And just in case anyone still thinks I take myself too seriously, I made a turkey fruit tray:

As much as I look forward to Thanksgiving, my favorite part of the holiday may just be the long relaxed weekend that follows, where the biggest decision I have to make is whether to go buy a Christmas tree this weekend.  It’s been especially great having my daughter home, and I know the days between this visit and the long Christmas break will fly by.  🙂