Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Take a vacation from your problems

By five o'clock tomorrow afternoon my body will be working hard to digest the magnitude of food it's just taken in. See previous post for specifics. But emotionally, I've been in digestion mode for quite some time; here at the Ely household, there's been a lot of hard stuff to take in lately and I'm starting to get that unpleasant  "I cannot take one more bite," feeling in my gut. As my Spanish friends would say, "No mas, no mas!" Add to that the fact that there won't be a crowd around my table this year, and well, I'm working extra hard to put on my party face. Let's just say, I'm not exactly feeling like 'the hostess with the mostess.'

You may go ahead and roll your eyes now because I'm about to quote yet another line from my favorite movie, "What About Bob?" In an effort to help his clingy, self-absorbed patient, Dr. Marvin takes out his Rx pad and writes Bob the following prescription:


Good prescription, hard to follow.

It feels like denial, doesn't it? It's not – it's faith. Faith that there's a God that sees the mess we're in, knows exactly how we got there and yet loves us enough to pull out a seat for us at his banqueting table, saying,  "Welcome – now, dig in."  He invites us to drop our problems into His lap, provides us with food for our bodies and our souls and doesn't even notice that we're not dressed for the party. He's the ultimate host. That is something to be thankful for.

So, I'm going to be a good girl and take my medicine, PRN, "as needed." I'm going to start by praying this prayer by John Scott; I hope you will pray it along with me. Have an blessed and abundant Thanksgiving!

     We respond to your invitation, O God. As we are, we come. We offer to you the hostilities that shape us, the hostilities we carry, the hostilities that carry us. In these matters, move us from hostility to hospitality. Be our guard, for we guard ourselves too much. Be our protector, that we need not overprotect ourselves. Create in us a space, a room, a place – a free and friendly space where the stranger may be welcomed

  • that we may be at home in our own house.
  • that we may be healed of the hurts we carry in the soul.
  • that we may know brother and sisterhood.
  • that we may know kindness.
  • that we may laugh easily.
  • that we may know beauty.
  • Nudge, guide, entice, prod. Move us to live within your soul. To the end that within this flesh, within this house in which we live, we may be at home with you, with our neighbor, with ourselves.

    Thus we pray, remembering Christ who says, "I stand at the door and knock." Create in us a place of hospitality. Amen.


In Search of a Crunchy Thanksgiving

Have you ever noticed the texture of most traditional Thanksgiving recipes?

SOFT; they're all so soft. Comforting, I suppose, but way too mushy for my tastes. My lament about the lack of crunchiness has become a running joke at our house.

A couple of years ago my daughter Johanna was compelled to write a little essay about it and I asked her permission to share it with you. She agreed, saying, "Anything that might help to put a little more bite into Thanksgiving is OK with me."

Here it is; enjoy!

Growing up I always had a nagging feeling that my mother loathed the holidays. Not in an anti-holiday sort of way; more of an, "I hate cooking for hours and days on end and then having it devoured in ten minutes," kind of way.

Another protagonist – casseroles. While they were moist and delicious, alas, so soft and pliable they could easily be gummed to death and swallowed without a single tooth being engaged. Yes, my mother had decided that holiday feasts were prepared with the toothless crowd in mind.

"You could gum this entire meal," she'd vent under her breath as we scurried in and out of the kitchen looking for nibbles and asking, "is it ready yet?"….."I'm starving."….."What's taking so long?!"

Poor mom, ever in search of a crunchy holiday recipe. Cooking her heart out while my brother and sister and I watched the parade on the TV and harassed her as our bellies groaned from the smell of her toothless delicacies wafting in from the kitchen.

The table finally set (do the forks go on the right or the left, mom?) my father blesses the meal and we all dig in. Praising the turkey, he beams from the head of the table. He'd slaved away all day on the succulent bird, or at least the smoker had. He had prepared the feast, the focal point of every holiday meal. 

"Great turkey, Dad," "delicious," murmurs all around the table from mouths stuffed with his juicy bird and famous giblet gravy.

Fuming on his left sits mom, who actually arose at 6 am to prep the turkey, make breakfast for us and the strays that holidays always brought. All her hard work being gummed to death and all the praise being given to my father.

One turkey, ten side dishes, everyone's favorites; mustn't leave anyone out. Mama Lou's squash casserole for me, pineapple rings with sweet potato and marshmallow for my brother, green beans for sis, potato puff casserole, mac 'and cheese, stuffing…you name it, we ate it, in ten minutes flat. Gummed down and slopped with gravy. Delicious. Done.

Mom, harping on us kids to do the dishes. Dad carefully picking the carcass bare, a holiday skeleton reminiscent of Halloween. "Is the game on yet?" "No-ooo Thanksgiving," is a phrase oft repeated at our house.

Now that we're all grown up and have flown the coop it's rare for such a feast to be had by all. We have a standing rule that only one holiday meal may be gummed to death. Your pick; mine usually. Mom, ever the foodie and gourmet junkie, has us sit down to a served three or four course meal.

A beautiful salad with moldy blue cheese, tart pears and toasted walnuts. Braised scallops served delicately in their shells. Dad's famous turkey and gravy, then mashed potatoes, creamed spinach casserole, crunchy carrots tossed with lemon and dill. My mother beaming from her seat on dad's left. At least an hour of eating with all your teeth engaged. Bliss.

We take turns saying what we're thankful for (mom's amazing cooking talent ) or seeing how many words we can create from the word "Thanksgiving."

I'll always cherish my holiday memories. Cooking in the warmth of the kitchen with my mom. The occasional blast of cold air snaking in from the cracked window for our hot flash moments. Side by side with mom, or gossiping from my perch on the old butcher's block table, forever in search of a crunchy holiday feast.


I've finally softened my stance on the softness of Thanksgiving food; people like what they like; who am I to judge? I'm fine as long as I don't accidentally overcook my crunchy carrots. Check back tomorrow for a free downloadable "cookbooklet" of  Thanksgiving recipes, soft and crunchy and easy on the cook.