This will be my 25th year of preparing/orchestrating Thanksgiving at our home. It is my all time favorite holiday and one that I find very festive, incredibly relaxing and very easy to pull off. I do not [and never have] stressed this holiday. What's the point? It's just food. hee
Most of our early Thanksgivings involved many extended family members. Although it has tapered off in the past decade as our family has become smaller the first Thanksgiving that always brings me to giggles was our largest. My [first] husband and I had just moved into our first home. We invited everyone and they all accepted. There were 22 coming! Some old [Moms & Dads, siblings] and some were new [significant others, fiances] so the pressure was on - especially when the old contingent started to brag to the newbies what a great cook I was and how wonderful my oyster dressing tasted. I scoffed. No problem.
[To be honest - it is my Grandma's recipe - and for all the people I have ever made it for that have never had it, they refused to go back to any other kind after tasting it. They have to have mine or make their own facsimile of it. I have spread this recipe far & wide. It is that good.]
The person that was most enthused about trying this dish was my future sister in law Beth. We talked everyday and she always ended the conversation with "Can't wait to try your world famous dressing." Knowing her Mom is/was an amazing cook I wanted to make sure that it turned out just right.
Now, remember I mentioned we had just moved into a new home? Well, this home needed a little updating in order to be ready to receive guests. It was a 20 year old town home that needed new flooring and paint on the level where we would be entertaining [kitchen, dining, living and powder room]. No worries. My young husband and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work a few weeks before Thanksgiving. With a baby in tow. We laid flooring, spackled walls, removed wallpaper and painted. And painted. And then painted some more. All the way up until the night before Thanksgiving. But? We got it finished! And it looked wonderful. We fell asleep that night, fully clothed, knowing we had to be up at the crack of dawn to start cooking for 22 people.
After a quick, sleepy shower we were in the kitchen at 6 am. Sr. prepped the turkeys while I prepped the dressing. The most important trick to making this dish is you have to use your hands to "squish" all the ingredients together well before stuffing the bird. I happily dug in, mushing together bread, oysters, veggies, eggs, broth and spice. Squish, squish, squish. Stuffed the birds and popped them in the oven. I turned to wash all the gunk off my hands when I noticed my arms. They were flecked all over with white paint. All over. I quickly rinsed my hands off only to discover they were free of any traces of the paint. Stripped clean without any scrubbing, just a rinse. I looked at Sr., then at the two turkeys in the oven and then back at Sr. and asked "That wasn't lead based paint, was it?" He laughed and said no and assured me not to be worried about it.
The day came off without a hitch - I still marvel at how I got that many people in our home - but the best part was at the end when we were wishing all our friends and family good bye and my wonderful [future] sister in law gushed "That was the best dressing I have ever had! I cannot wait to tell my Mom all about it. What IS you secret ingredient. It tasted so great!"
Sr. and I just lost it. We laughed. Poor Beth didn't know if we were over tired or we were simply the crazy relatives she was marrying into. It wasn't until her Mom called and requested the recipe that I had to call Beth and 'fess up to my Glidden infused oyster dressing. We never did tell her Mom - and Beth swears her's tastes almost as good as my "original".
Believe it or not - the second OOPS involves paint too. This time I had [almost] nothing to do with it tho'. We get to blame Pooldad and [baby] Wallene for this one. Oh, and it involves a brand spanking [just built] new home for us too. [Anyone sensing a pattern here?]
Once again a new home and a new[ish] baby and hosting Thanksgiving. YAY!
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving I finished up painting our guest bathroom a beautiful blue color, but I knew I still needed to run out to pick up a few more accents to finish it. I took the almost full can of paint [hey, small bathroom] and set it in the kitchen sink with the lid lightly placed on, so as not to have it dry shut. Looking at it you could tell it wasn't closed completely.
Or so I thought.
Did I mention this brand new home had brand new white carpet throughout? No? heehee
It did. Which explains that when I walked in the door from shopping I found Pooldad down on his hands and knees, vigoriously scrubbing away at the carpet in front of the entry way to the kitchen. When I walked up the stairs and looked down at what he was scrubbing I just giggled and said "Honey, give it up. It isn't coming out. Ever."
He sat back on his heels and looked up at me with the word "sorry" written all over his face. He explained that he had needed to use the sink and thought the can of paint was closed so he had placed it out in the hallway ON THE WHITE CARPET. [Not, say, on my easily cleaned linoleum floor in the kitchen.] He hadn't noticed that Wallene had toddled up and being the curious little girl she has always been she tipped over the can onto the carpet and then proceeded to walk through it.
Ahhh. No harm, no foul. Accidents happen. I actually didn't care because it WAS an accident and if my family was going to fuss about blue paint on the white carpet well. . .I didn't care.
I handed hubby a beer and got busy on the phone, calling carpet stores to see if anyone could come out before Thanksgiving and replace the carpet. As luck would have it a very nice sales lady told me that our homeowner's insurance would pay for it and that I should call them first. Bonus! I called our insurance company and sure enough they were there the next day with a check to replace the carpet in the hallway, dining room, living room and all the stairs.
When Pooldad came home from work we hopped over to Home Depot where the nice lady in the carpet department laughed at me. She explained that they were booked through Christmas and I was out of luck, but. . . if I would like she did have a number to two of her carpet guys who did sidework to pick up extra money. Would I like? Heck yeah! We purchased [funnily enough] BLUE carpet that was even nicer than the white we were replacing and the nice men were coming to install it Wednesday evening.
We spent Wednesday afternoon removing all the old carpet and had the most awesome time with Jorge and Luis, our installers, that night just laughing and drinking beers over the whole fiasco. It was fun.
The strangest part was my Mom calling and asking what was going on. When I told her we were having the carpet replaced before the holiday she began yelling at me! Telling me that was the dumbest thing and I was just making more work for myself and Pooldad. I still can't understand her reaction to our "problem". She just had to show up and eat. Why did she care if I was having carpet installed on Thanksgiving eve? It was weird, but typical of my Mom.
The funniest phone call was one Jorge received on his cell. It was his wife and while he was chatting with her I think Pooldad, Luis and I were carrying on a wee little bit too loud because poor Jorge - his wife was yelling at him over the phone accusing him and Luis of being at a bar and not actually working. We teased him when he got off the phone, but he assured us that his pay would go far enough in showing his wife that he was, in fact, at work.
All in all - we made out like bandits on the carpet deal. We received nicer carpet, in a color we liked even better, while making life long friends of Jorge and Luis. Plus? We only spent half of the insurance check by "doing it ourselves". We used the remaining money to pay for a very nice Christmas. heehee
So, if something happens this Thanksgiving that you think may ruin the holiday? Take my advice and just smile through it. It will be fine and just think of all the stories you can tell.
**And for what it is worth - I told Pooldad if we couldn't get the carpet replaced before Thanksgiving Day I wasn't worried. I would simply throw down a big rock, make a paper boat with little Pilgrim people in it and call it a diorama of Thanksgiving. giggle
Enjoy! See ya' on the flipside Tadpoles.