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The full plate

November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Day.  It was a little different for us this year.

I often quietly pine for the Thanksgivings like the ones I had when I was growing up, where hoards of extended family gathered together and made makeshift plywood and sawhorses tables groan with their culinary contributions, and the adults sat around and told tall tales while the cousins went poking about for things to do.  These sorts of Thanksgivings have never existed for my kids.  It makes me rather sad to know that they simply have no frame of reference for the big family gatherings I remember.  But a military family rarely gets the opportunity to live near their extended family, and we never have.  Our kids have us.  And we have them.

This year the Far Away Sparkette celebrated with her new family, as it should be, and she was blessed to have some old friends invite them all to join them.  The eldest Sparkette could not come home because LSU has a football game tomorrow, and the band has a call time of 8:00 am.  She went home with a roommate who lives close, and someone else’s mama fed her, for which I am very grateful, though a little bit sad.  The Jr. Spark was here, as was the youngest Sparkette, and we all hung together.

When I found out it was only going to be the four of us, I took a poll and discovered that nobody really cared if we had turkey.  Turkey is a lot of work– both before, during, and after the beast is cooked– and although we like a meal of it ok, there is always a lot of waste because none of us like it repeatedly, not even out of the freezer.  I had several votes for ham, however, and I was able to find a smallish one.  I made some traditional Thanksgiving  side dishes, and everyone was happy.

As I cooked I considered how many other cooks had their hands in my kitchen today.  The sweet potato casserole recipe comes from a cookbook put together by the church of my childhood, and though I’ve tweaked the recipe, it’s still Denise I see when I make it.  The hot roll recipe comes from Vicky, and I intended to skip those today until there was a small mutiny, and so I quickly threw the dough together so as to avoid walking the plank.  The deviled eggs weren’t from a recipe, but a general “do this, then that” that I learned long ago from my mother.  I’ve recently made some dietary adjustments that put the sweet potato casserole out of the running for me, and then I remembered how Mr. Sparky’s mother made twice-baked potatoes, and that I had a couple of leftover baked potatoes in the fridge that I could employ if I simply used her basic technique…which worked great.  The cranberry sauce recipe came from the internet, but the tangerine that gave its zest and juice for it came from Robbie.  The green bean casserole recipe came into our marriage with Mr. Sparky.  And an unknown person on Allrecipes.com provided the recipe for the pumpkin pie sweetened from agave, which was pretty much indistinguishable from the other pumpkin pie we had that was made from the recipe on the Libby’s pumpkin can.

Like much of life, cooking is both art and science.  Science makes it taste good.  Art makes it feel good.  Food that doesn’t do both always falls short, like a TV dinner or a meal served with ice cream scoops by bored ladies in hairnets at some nondescript cafeteria.  It fills the stomach, but not that part of us that still equates food with nurture and provision.  We were born with that, and I believe God designed us that way very intentionally.  He means for us to remain a bit restless and hungry when we’ve used our own means to fill ourselves.  We can do some of His science, but we are frightfully incompetent at His art.  Our hearts ache in the void, even when our calendars, garages, computers, iPhones, closets, and wallets are full.

Mr. Sparky does a good deal of our cooking, , especially on weekends, but Thanksgiving is generally my deal.  And I hope that when the last bites of the meal have been scraped from the plates and my family pushes away from the table, they can feel that there was both art and science in the mix, and that it came to them from the hand of a Provider who is much bigger and wiser than the woman who just spent hours putzing about in the kitchen.

And I hope that they are really, truly full.

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 27, 2011 8:59 pm

    To be honest, I would always prefer ham over turkey. Unfortunately, I can’t convince my family.

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