My brother Larry and his son Josh have been here since last weekend. My sister Karen visited from Wednesday til yesterday; she and her helper Daria -- Karen has Down syndrome -- stayed at a motel not far from the airport.
I'd count Thanksgiving a success. The extended time with the guys hasn't been nearly as stressful as we'd feared (having the run of the entire downstairs takes a lot of pressure off us old people on the main level). Daria, the "stranger" at our table, turns out to be an interesting young woman with a deceptively little-girl voice.
We definitely missed the Arcata clan; this is the first time in decades that we haven't celebrated Thanksgiving together. But the turkey, and dinner in general, was one of the best. I brined the bird (a 23-lb. Diestel turkey from New Seasons), did the standard gravy, and made two dressings from recipes that appeared side-by-side in The Oregonian a couple of weeks ago. One was fairly traditional, including a big handful of fresh herbs plus a few extras, like celeriac, that I happened to have around; the other was made with whole-grain bread and featured dried cranberries and toasted hazelnuts. Both are keepers. I also did red cabbage with apples. Jer made garlic mashed potatoes and the marshmallow-topped sweets that he insists are his birthright as a Southerner, plus Susan Stamberg's and now our traditional cranberry relish, which includes horseradish, sour cream, and a stint in the freezer before serving. He also tried a green bean recipe that turned out wonderfully, with shallots, orange zest, and pecans candied in maple syrup. I made Josh's favorite pie, pumpkin eggnog, and my favorite, pecan. Jer made everybody else's fave, bourbon black-bottom chiffon. Six people at the dinner table, and three pies. Sounds about right to me.
Sure, a certain amount of wear and tear goes with hosting Thanksgiving, but it's really nice (and getting nicer by the year) to be the ones who get to stay home. Speaking of which, earlier in the week, a couple of guys from the Urban Forestry department showed up with a woodchipper and made short work of the big branch that fell in last Monday's windstorm. The city actually took care of it; we were pleasantly amazed. One more thing to be thankful for.