Published in the Rains County Leader on November 24, 2020:
Like everything else this year, Thanksgiving is going to be a bit different. We usually go to the home of relatives for the holiday, but as the messages began coming in that various families were staying home alone this year, I began to plan my menu. David said I didn’t have to cook anything special, but I knew we would both be disappointed with hamburgers.
It’s hard to make a special meal for two without an overwhelming amount
of leftovers, so I suggested we invite Connie and Charles from across the street to share our bounty. Then I talked with Aunt Fay, and after she told me that she was going to buy a bag of dressing mix and a rotisserie chicken for her meal, I suggested she join us. She’s a busy lady and wasn’t sure if she could make it – but if she does, our Thanksgiving dinner for two will have grown to five.
The menu grew along with the guests. Even the smallest turkey seemed too big for two – or five – so I decided to bake a hen. Connie had one in her freezer that she offered to donate to the cause, but when I looked at the 5-6 pound bird, it looked a bit small. And no Southern cook worth her spatula wants anyone to leave her table hungry. So I added a small ham.
Cornbread dressing came next because that’s my favorite, and you can’t have dressing without gravy. Then there’s the sweet potato casserole with the pecan topping that could be a dessert if you put it in a crust, cranberry sauce, and rolls. I planned to top it off with a pecan pie and call it done.
But in the interest of something at least a little bit healthy, I added a fruit salad. And because David thinks every meal, especially special ones, should include beans or peas, I added speckled butter beans. Then Connie sent over a can of black olives with the hen – and I have a relish tray I just love – so I picked up some baby dills, some sweet gherkins, and a jar of pickled okra. The tray has seven sections, and even if I put the cranberry sauce in the middle, that’s only five items. But I have some eggs I need to use, so I’ll fill the last two sections with deviled eggs.
I thought I was finished at that point, but I thought about the math of five
people and one pie – not enough leftovers, so I added an apple pie. My dressing recipe won’t require an entire pan of cornbread, so I’ll probably have some of that to add to the buffet – and maybe some mashed potatoes for those who don’t care for sweet potatoes. You’ll notice an absence of the obligatory green bean casserole since that’s not one of David’s favorites, but who know what will happen between now and Thursday.
After-dinner entertainment will be different since we are currently without Internet – and since we switched to streaming, that’s our only source of TV. David has ordered a SIM card for a two-week trial with a new carrier, but unless it arrives before the big day, there will be no football. We may have to actually talk to one another about something other than whether the referees are blind or not.
So my little Thanksgiving has grown a bit. Instead of fixing one or two dishes to take to someone else’s house, I will spend most of two days in the kitchen. It will be an act of love and gratitude as I think about all the blessings this year has brought – even though it has been the strangest year on record!