Three hours in the kitchen yesterday morning; five hours in the kitchen this morning; I’ve listened to over half of Paul Auster’s Sunset Park in the meantime. (Does he ever write anything that doesn’t have a writer in it? I love his style, but sometimes I get the feeling I’m just reading variations on his autobiography. This one, so far, has no connection to Paris.) I’m thankful that it’s almost done. The turkey is in the oven; the dressing is cooling; the soup and cranberry sauce (this year stewed spiced chai with a bit of bourbon as an experiment) sit in the refrigerator; the broccoli casserole (yes, there simply must be a casserole or else it’s not Thanksgiving) is ready to go in the oven; the giblet gravy is almost ready. It’s time for a cup of coffee, a pipe of tobacco (after years of smoking English and Virginia/Perique blends almost exclusively, I’ve begun exploring burley-based blends–it’s like smoking a pipe again for the first time), and some quiet.
It’s been a crazy morning: the dog, less than twenty-four hours after being spayed, has returned to normal energy levels and is highly irritated about being stuck inside with an Elizabethan collar on. The Boy wanted to help, of course, but the difference now is that he’s able actually to help. He broke the dried bread into chunks for the dressing; he crushed crackers and mixed the liquid components for the casserole; he willingly taste-tested the pumpkin pie baklava; he kept an eye on everything. How did I listen to a story and talk to the Boy? Simple: his fits of helping merely punctuated his playing.
It’s always the same — Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, you spend all that time cooking and it’s over before you know it. Even when you slow down, even when you’re mindful, even when you want to stretch things out, you can’t.
You sit and listen to the Boy’s stories, plow through the food, and it’s done. Of course, when you compare the amount of prep to the time eating, even two hours would be “plowing through.” But you can’t complain: people aren’t eager to eat food that tastes mediocre at best, so I take it as a complement.
And go for a meandering walk afterward, the first quarter of it with the family. The rest head back because the poor dog, with her radar hat on, probably shouldn’t be out too long.