November 30, 2013

So Very Thankful

So you know Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is the only holiday lacking the nasty commercialism that surrounds our lives today.  Or at least it was until black Friday took over the day.  But don't get me started on that!  We look forward to the day with much gusto.  At the beginning of November we pull out our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and start planning our menu and guest list.  I have been using this same issue of Bon Appetit to prepare feasts for friends and family since 1994.  It is worn and taped and marked up.  There are gravy and cranberry stains.  Pulling it out is like opening the door to a dear old friend.  On the left is the November 2013 issue.  I love the tradition and I love to try new things in the kitchen so our menu is always a fushion of beloved favorites and new and daring.  This year I used the same smoked turkey but instead of fresh garden herbs we used a smoked chili rub.  

Allen had to travel most of November for various business meetings and a training conference.  The kids and I used some of the evenings he was gone to make these hand print turkey cards.  We sent some for invitations to Thanksgiving dinner and some were sent to lovds ones we are so grateful for.  There was so much glue holding all the hand prints on that the cards would not fold to go in the envelopes.  
This year we were looking forward to Thanksgiving more than ever.  First, because we have so much more to be thankful for.  Second, because of the very special guests who would be joining us.  Third, because last year the holidays just sort of drifted by in the blur that last year was.  

Winnie was in the spirit like no other could compare.  A friend brought her this shirt.  I put it in her drawer and forgot about it.  The next morning Mella was getting dress when she came running and screaming while waving it above her head and shouting, "CHICKEN SHIRT!"  She wore it every day since the last of October.  And in case you are wondering, she has paired it with every color of legging in his feathers.  This is definitely not an outfit I would have picked myself but the way she loves it made me love it.  I was sad to see her move into her Christmas sweater this morning.

She wore it every day since the last of October.  And in case you are wondering, she has paired it with every color of legging in his feathers.  This is definitely not an outfit I would have picked myself but the way she loves it made me love it.  I was sad to see her move into her Christmas sweater this morning.

November was a tough month.  Allen was away on travel in five different states and every one of the kids, with the exception of Addison, have been sick in that time.  Carmella has literally been sick for 31 days, first with Fifth's Disease and then with a seemingly endless cold.  There were lots of other things going on in there, including Sam's severe, and very unnerving, reaction to a vaccine.  We all kept up a good humor by looking forward to the long holiday weekend with family and friends.

And then came Tuesday.  My spirit was completely dashed when we learned about Addison's hearing issues and within the same hour realized that a snow storm would prevent Aunt Dawn from traveling to us on Wednesday.
But we cleaned and cooked and decorated and listed all we have to be thankful for.  Thursday morning dawned with a heart adjustment, clear skies and the Macy's parade. 
 Counting down our blessings began with the 22 loved ones gathered around our table.
 Every holiday the girls set a more beautiful table than the last.  The boys get in on the act now, too.  Nathaniel said he is going to go to Butler school.
 All good parties start with a fabulous drink and appetizers.  Brianna stirred up Cranberry Margarita's and the New England Express.
 These candied cranberries are my new passion.  My favorite way to serve them is with a nice brie.  The kids also made up a batch of my brother's famous stuffed mushrooms and Gram Millie's cheese balls.
If you have ever been a guest in my house, you know I am not above asking anyone and everyone to join in the cooking.  If you ask, I will also gladly accept your offer to bring part of the meal.  We had pie from Ohio, potatoes from Aberdeen and Pecan bars from Alexandria.  Gosia put the finishing touch on her glazed carrots as we all enjoyed appetizers.
 Even Miss Liz got in on the act.
 Allen's one official cooking duty every year is to carve the Thanksgiving turkey.
The new turkey recipe was a serious hit.  As were all the recipes contributed to the dinner.
But the greatest thing about the day were the people I love gathered together.  As we finished preparing dinner everyone gathered in the kitchen and hugged and kissed and swapped stories while we swapped recipes and tasted the good food.  Aunt Dawn arrived a few minutes before we took the turkey out of the oven and the day was complete.  

I think my heart broke about 20 times during the evening as I listened to the laughs and watched those I love mingle together in joy.  There is something incredibly fabulous about hearing a bunch of Italians talk about food while they are cooking and eating.  As Allen was carving the turkey and I was taking in the sounds and sights of all those around me I was overwhelmed by the Lord's goodness to fill our home with so much joy.  I absolutely love this photo because it captures exactly what I love best about those I love.  Cousin Joe teasing Nathaniel.  Gosia's infectious laugh.  Aunt Dawn's bear hugs.  And Steven burning his mouth on the stuffed mushrooms, even though I warned him several times that they would be hot inside.  
We had such a great mix of personalities there was no end to the stories, or the laughs.  As Dawn put it, "You know the most interesting people.... Secret Service Agents, FBI agents and Miss Liz."  Rolling on the floor laughing out loud at that comment.  We were so glad to also have cousin Christina and her friend, Jeff come up from Virginia.  Cousin Joe Jr. came from Arizona as well but somehow he managed to escape Brianna's camera.
There were also many nationalities represented.  My Cousin Rita, from Germany.

 My brother Frank and our Italian cousin Joe.
 Irena and Gosia from Poland.  This was the first time we met Gosia's mom.  Even though she doesn't speak English, she fit right in with the teasing and craziness of our Italian family. 
 Okay, so here were one of those... so thankful heart breaking moments... as I looked around the table at those gathered to celebrate God's goodness I had to choke back tears.  Ha!  and there I found a picture of Joe Jr. to my right,
After dinner we enjoyed a dessert buffet with more choices than I knew what to do with.  Nathaniel made a cherry pie and Aedan tried out a new recipe for Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle.

The party went late into the evening... 

Joe Jr. and Steven gave the boys lots of pool pointers
Everyone took turns passing the baby around
The boys are really into their Bertie Wooster look right now.  I LOVED their bow ties and suspenders
Isaiah and Carmella spent hours playing with the play kitchen food
Many people took turns at the piano
So thankful to the Lord not just for his endless blessings upon my world.  So grateful for a God who will take a day set aside to offer thanks to Him and turn it into a day to bestow yet more goodness upon us.  

"That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all they wondrous works."  Psalm 26:7


  1. Looks like a beautiful Thanksgiving with much to be thankful for! The table really was beautiful!
    Sorry to hear about Addison's hearing issues…please let me know if you need anything at all. Hugs!

  2. Thanksgiving is my favorite, too! Like you, we have a large family gathering and a huge buffet of food. I'm not sure how many were there this year, maybe 60 or more. We always get a picture of my grandma with her sons and daughters (11 living), and this year, I thought too late to try one with all her grandkids that were there. Hopefully next year. Or at least at the next reunion. My grandma will be 102 next month, so her time is running short.

    I LOVE your Thanksgiving table!!! Stunning! Aside from the beautifully decorated table, I'm impressed that you have that many matching chairs! And I love all the pictures. Viewing them makes me want to dig out some of my Thanksgiving pictures from years past. I'd have to secretly borrow them from my mom ;).

    This is the first time I've read any blogs in quite some time. Life keeps happening and I know I'll later regret not keeping up with my own blog. But on the upside, I've accomplished more around the house. :)

    Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for people like you who take the time to write and post pictures so that people like me have even more to be grateful for.