Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

From the dock at Barry's Bay

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Epicurus
When I was a little girl, my parents entertained, a lot. Big dinner parties with many people. People they knew well. People they'd just met. People from all over the world. Their hospitality was legendary. My three siblings and I all knew we could invite anyone over, anytime, and they would be welcomed. That there would always be enough food, enough room at the table for one more.

Sunset over the Bay
I dreamt of such a house when I grew up. I dreamt of entertaining with such flare when I had a home of my own. I always hoped my dream would come true.

And it has.

Last night, we celebrated a late Canadian Thanksgiving. Liseanne, my youngest daughter, was quite disjuffed that C.C. and I were not here for traditional turkey fare last weekend, so I promised to create the event this weekend.

It was supposed to have been a turkey dinner. I'd phoned Liseanne on Wednesday to remind her to take the turkey out of the freezer in the garage and put it into the fridge. She'd forgotten to do it Wednesday but did remember Thursday morning before she left for work. She did forget, however, the bit about 'put it in the fridge to thaw'. Thought it would be more effective-- (it was frozen rock hard, she said and she was late taking it out) -- if she put it in the sink in the kitchen.

No cold water bath. No ice.

Just a dry sink and a warm house in which to unfreeze.

And that is why we feasted on plump juicy farm fresh chickens last night (and a rib eye steak for my brother-in-law who detests eating anything that once had feathers).

didn't want to risk poisoning our guests with a questionable turkey.

My brother-in-law was delighted. "Thank you Liseanne," he said as he walked into the house and gave her a hug.

"You're welcome," she replied. "I did it just for you."

"Thank you," another guest commented. "We're having turkey dinner tomorrow night. You've saved us from two in a row!"

"You're welcome," Liseanne replied. "I did it just for you."

It didn't matter about the missing turkey. In fact, the story of the missing turkey added a great deal of hilarity and ample opportunity to rib Liseanne about her culinary talents -- she and her boyfriend Ryan did make a Chocolate Quinoa (gluten free) cake to prove she can cook.

And she can. Cook. It's the clean-up after the big mess up that she struggles with. And boy, can she create a mess in the kitchen! From a dropped egg on the floor to cocoa powder drifting down like an ash cloud to batter spilling everywhere, Liseanne knows how to leave evidence of her cooking behind!

C.C. of course, weathered the storm of Liseanne and Ryan's kitchen escapades with grace. They descended upon the kitchen just as he was preparing the two birds for the oven. (yes, we had to cook two big chickens as we were 15 for dinner and in spite of my best efforts to find a fresh turkey yesterday, we had to resort to the plumpest, juiciest, biggest chickens we could find at the market -- which were delicious!)

While C.C. stuffed and trussed the chickens, and I peeled and chopped potatoes for my 'famous' roast potatoes, Liseanne and Ryan darted in and around us, hunting for baking powder and cinnamon and all the other ingredients and asking germane questions like, "does it matter if I didn't mix the dry ingredients together before putting them into the wet?" or, when asked, 'what does the recipe say about preparing the pan?', replying, "Nothing."

'Read the beginning of the recipe.' I suggest.

"It just talks about how good the cake is," Liseanne responds.

'That's the preamble to the recipe. Not part of the recipe itself." I explain. 'Read the first steps.'

"Preheat oven to 350F. Oh." Pause. "You mean this bit. Lightly grease a 9" springform pan." Look up. Smile innocently.

"Yes. They always tell you how to prepare the pan at the start of the recipe."

"Well that's silly," she replies. "Everyone knows you don't put the batter in until the end. Why don't they just tell you what to do then so you don't have to go back and read the beginning."

Ah well, I'm sure she'll figure it out one day.

On this day, she has figured out how to simply be part of creating a special day to remember. From a guest she invited because she knew there would always be room at the table, to filling water glasses to organizing seating arrangements, to greeting everyone at the door with a warm hug, Liseanne helped make my dream come true.

And all that was missing was my eldest daughter Alexis. She did Skype in later in the evening. My laptop moved around the table and everyone had a chance to say hello and get caught up on her news of life on the coast. It wasn't quite like having her here, but it was the next best thing.

Epicurus is right. Spending time wishing for things I don't have takes away from savouring the joy and wonder of what I do have.

And what I have is a world of love. Of joy and laughter. Harmony and bliss.

I have everything I've ever wanted. Everything I could ever imagine, right now. Right here. This is life.

The photos are from my week at Barry's Bay. I just wanted to share some! :)


Maureen said...

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

Jennifer Richardson said...

the life of thanksgiving
you've cultivated
is celebration-worthy, indeed!
Joy to you and your lovies,

Louise Gallagher said...

Thanks Maureen!

Louise Gallagher said...

Thanks so much Jennifer. Lovely to see you and read you here!

S. Etole said...

So much joy in shared family moments and love.

Fi said...

...and there in lies the essence of thanksgiving - being thankful for what you have now...

Sounds like a delightful dinner

Claudia said...

wow - awesome pics...and i wish we had thanksgiving dinners like this but it's not this big celebrated over here...but we were celebrating my husband's birthday yesterday and somehow managed to fit around 30 people into our living room...smiles

Ruth said...

You are a wise woman. Very.

Sometimes I think it's the mistakes that make the best holiday legends. One year I thought I'd lock the oven door because the meat thermometer magnet wire thing was keeping the door propped open a bit, and I didn't want to lose valuable heat around our home grown turkey. Well, the oven has an automatic turn-off when the oven door is locked! We did lose heat, for a whole hour! It has provided many good reminiscences.

I also love thinking about how our kids will carry on our traditions.

So glad you got to fulfill your dream, Louise. Happy Thanksgiving one week late!