Some fairly urgent requests came in from coworkers and customers in other countries, and I put some time into answering those, while also catching up on some TiVo backlog (The Walking Dead is looking like another winner for AMC, joining Mad Men and Rubicon on my list of Must See.)
Dinner was forecast for 6pm, and I got my act together around 3, putting down the work and such. Off to the Irish Riviera and my parents' house. Known attendees were my parents, my sister and her husband and toddler son, my uncle, and myself.
A former housemate and my dear friend of 20+ years recently resurfaced in my life, and in conversation it came out that she was looking for TDay plans. She was a guest at my family celebrations in years past, and I invited her along this year ... and that became a plan around 5:30pm, when she phoned for directions.
Around the same time, my younger brother and his wife and two sons and one of their girlfriends appeared ... and the table, which had been set with my parents' wedding china (only 8 settings) enlarged from seating 7 to seating 12. (Toddler nephew was melting down around this point, and so he was taken off to bed.)
My parents remembered my friend by name, but my sibling's weren't sure who I was talking about. (I've brought guests many times in the past, both romantic and platonic connections, and it had been some times since her last visit, so it wasn't terribly surprising they couldn't place her.) She walked in, and rejoiced in the place memories, and greeting everyone (including older nephews, now in their early 20s, who had last seen her 10ish years ago) who recognized her immediately.
Dinner was the usual chaos, this year almost entirely produced by my sister and her husband, with random small contributions by me and my father. (Our major contribution was the gravy, as this element of "How to Cook Everything" utterly failed -- involving no roux, the instruction was simply to mix a vegetable stock with the strained pan drippings and cook it down -- optionally adding corn starch to thicken. We opted to make a butter & turkey fat & flour roux, and then added more stock and drippings, with one gravy boat also receiving the traditional diced giblets.)
Starting with a magical baked oyster dish my mother has made for every Thanksgiving and Xmas dinner as long as I can remember, the table would not actually have been large enough for all the food *without* having added the leaf for my brother's family, with corn, peas, green beans, candied sweet potatoes, bread *and* créton (pork) stuffing, cranberry sauce, olives, carrots, mashed potatoes, mashed butternut squash, and roast beets, accompanying the anchor turkey.
Dessert was mostly pie -- pecan, pumpkin, apple -- with ice cream and Nantucket bourbon (courtesy my brother-in-law).
Conversation was filled with humor, banter, reminiscence of past years, gratitude for all and everything present, and outlasted both my mother (recuperating from a total knee replacement a couple weeks ago) and uncle. We finally broke things up around 12:30am, only because safe driving would not have been possible had we kept on.
*That's* how Thanksgiving should be.