Friday, November 23, 2007

The vision fulfilled

Yesterday was crazy - all of the usual busy-ness of hosting a big event at home. All that food - dishes galore, cleaning galore, etc. It was a bit tiring (ha!) and I'm glad it's behind me.

However, it was utterly and completely worth it.

There were a few moments prior to the meal being served when I was working in the kitchen, with many hands helping me, and I could hear laughter from just about every room in the house, and I couldn't help but smile. Everyone was helping, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

And then, it was time for the meal. We stood in a circle, holding hands, to say grace, and I was overcome with the loveliness of it all. Twenty relatives, all in one room, enjoying one another. Three big tables filled to overflowing with food and drink. The "adult" table was sparkling with gold and white china; the "kid" (the oldest kids are legally able to drink...!) table was decked out in my blue and white dishes. There were candles lit, and classical music playing in the background. I am grateful to have been able to create this experience, and I'm proud of my part in it.

Some families don't enjoy one another. That is not the case in the Surface clan. I believe that everyone had a good time, and I think that the sound of laughter was good testimony of that.

The Weitz's (Ryan's sister and family) are still visiting with us, though they're off visiting Lynn's sister this afternoon. Tonight, we dine on leftovers.

Tomorrow, Michele & I are off to the gym together - that treadmill has my name on it, and there's a yoga class I've been wanting to take. I'm afraid to step on a scale for a couple of days, but I know what I need to do, and I'm looking forward to doing it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

And now...bring on Christmas! I brought down the Christmas CDs, put up our wreath, and put out a few Christmas decorations today. Hurrah! Next weekend, we'll put up the tree....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Almost Thanksgiving

The butternut squash soup is done now; the bathrooms are scrubbed; the sheets are changed; the towels are folded and ready; the refrigerator is full; more cranberry nut loaf is being made; the lawn is mowed and raked (thanks, Ryan!)'s almost time.

I have decided that tomorrow is a no-counting day for Weight Watchers. Nobody ever got fat in a day, and I'm going to enjoy the tastiness of the day...especially after I've put so much effort into it. On Friday I can "behave" again without feeling deprived. I've lost another .6, I think, and I'd like to keep it off...but tomorrow I will not stress.

(I could get fat on appetizers alone tomorrow. Blue cheese ball, summer sausage, salmon dip, artichoke dip, brie, crackers, cashews, cinnamon nuts.....)

Tonight there's still work to do. I'm behind on folding laundry, and I want to make more cranberry bread and get the mashed potatoes done. I'll do the stuffing tomorrow morning, and I'll do the green beans and salad tomorrow, too. Just setting up all the tables will take some work, but that's okay! It'll all work out somehow. :-)

Linda, Lynn, and their three kids will be here tonight, so I bet I'll be pretty busy. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Preparing for Thanksgiving

I have been busy readying myself for Thanksgiving - every day is packed with things to do. Of course I'd like the house to be spotless for all of our guests, but at this point I may settle for "reasonably clean" because it's a never-ending game of catch-up on that account.

(Note to prospective owners of black labs: Black labs are, in my limited experience, wonderful pets. Shep is sweet, loving, playful, gentle, silly, friendly, great with kids, good with the cat, and a pleasure to be around. HOWEVER - you have never seen so much dog hair on a floor in your life. I sweep and vacuum all the time, but to no avail. You'd think the poor dog would be bald with all that shedding, but instead, he simply has a never-ending supply of dog hair which follows behind him, leaving a trail. He's worth it, and yet....!)

We purchased an organic turkey at the Farmer's Market this weekend, and it's defrosting in the downstairs fridge. We also picked up potatoes (Yukon Gold, my favorite) for mashing, and butternut squash that I will roast and turn into soup tomorrow (to be served as a starting course, with spiced pecans as a garnish - delicious). Today I went to Trader Joe's, and picked up all kinds of things, pretty much filling the cart to overflowing. I'm serving honey baked ham, in addition to the turkey, to round things out.

This afternoon I made the cranberry sauce, and a couple of loaves of cranberry nut bread. I'll make more cranberry nut loaf later today, as it will be great for snacking on for breakfast or anytime.

I settled on a simple green bean dish with shallots and butter -sounds good to me, and easy enough to prepare at the last minute. I'm going to do a stuffing (some say dressing) with roasted chestnuts, sage, and sausage...yumm. (I may actually do two kinds of stuffing: one type for the bird, one type for the pan. I like an apple-celery-walnut stuffing, too....) I haven't decided yet if I'm going to make the stuffing a day in advance (don't worry, I wouldn't put it in the bird until the last minute) or make it the morning of...but I have all of the ingredients now, so I'm set there.

But despite all of my food talk - and I do love food - it's not about the food. It's about making people feel welcome in our home, ensuring that Tessa feels the traditions that come with these foods, and enjoying the companionship of family. It's a rare treat to have 20 people together in the Surface clan, and one that I intend to enjoy thoroughly. Tessa will love being with all of her cousins, and sharing her life with them and vice versa, and I will enjoy watching that.

I am incredibly grateful that life allows me this opportunity. Not only am I in good enough health to be able to throw this kind of party, but I (we) have a lovely home that will (somehow!) accomodate this large crowd. I'm grateful that we live in a part of the world that is filled with good things to eat that are available to us; as I think about that I think about the situation in Darfur and how grateful I am that I am given the luxury of choosing from so many dishes to share with my family, when it could be otherwise. I am grateful that I married into such a loving and large family, where people are kind, fun, loving, and good to one another.

I am, most of all, grateful for Ryan and Tessa. Words can not say how much.

I am also grateful to come from a large and loving family - my birth family (Dahls, Goddards, Gribbles, Smalls, Ochoas, Lyons) - will not be with me this holiday, but I will feel their love and support, because we are close. I am grateful for that. (I am also grateful that I will not be hosting all those other people this time....20 is enough, thank you!)

I am grateful that though I've been through the pit of hell, I'm coming out. Not unscathed, but coming out. Physically, mentally, emotionally, I've been through the ringer, and I'm working it out. I'm coming to terms with it. I still see my therapist (this morning, as a matter of fact), and I like the Lexapro so far (I actually think I can feel it kicking in), and I'm dealing. Some days are easier than others, but I'm not in the throes of despair now - thank God.

And now, off to get the cranberry loaves out of the oven, then off to preschool to pick up Tessa. We're going to Lincoln Park (with Shep, for those of you who have seen the news....he LOOKS intimidating, even though he's not, and he's a good sidekick) so Tessa can burn off energy, then I'll come home to keep on cooking and cleaning.

I am thankful. In case I don't get to post here again before the holiday, Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that you have much to be thankful for, as well.

PS Monday is my weigh-in day for Weight Watchers (I do it at home; we have a digital scale). I lost 2.4 pounds my first week - wahoo! I'd like to lose 8.4 additional pounds, but I can feel the difference already and I'm very happy with that. I'm being very careful to watch what I eat this week, because on Thanksgiving I will splurge somewhat (stuffing + gravy + cranberry sauce = delicious), remembering that it's what I do in the long run that matters most, and one day will not ruin a week's efforts. I'm also trying to remember that Thanksgiving and Christmas are days, not months, so I will treat myself to decadent food on those days, but not the entire month in between.