Scene: Thanksgiving Day. T minus 30 minutes.

The bronzed bird is resting on the counter, but you need the drippings to make the gravy.

The potatoes are boiling furiously, and you are waiting to drain some of that starchy cooking water into the pot for the gravy. (A tip you found long ago). The mashing tools are ready and waiting.

You have just rolled out the crescent rolls, which need a short time and little oven space. Good thing those candied sweet potatoes and extra casserole of stuffing are about finished.

The fresh cut green beans have been steamed, and are now in a skillet with butter and sliced almonds on the back burner.

You found out how delicious those fresh cranberries can be, and you made them the night before, while the second batch of pumpkin pies was baking. The first batch was set aside, since you forgot to add sugar to the pumpkin.

The table has been set with the “good dishes” since early in the day, so the counter tops are busy. With fresh cut flowers and candles, you are sure no one will notice that you didn’t iron that table cloth.

The guests have all arrived, the kids are dressed and ready.

The husband is collecting coats, tending to the cooler of beer and wine on the back porch that the uncles brought to the party.

You are trying to smile, and listen in on some of the family conversations going on all around you.

You’ve got this. You are a holiday hostess in full control.

Norman Rockwell. 1943

Then you look down and realize, you are still in your cooking clothes…mostly pajamas.

If I had it to do all over again, I would.

And more often.

Happy Thanksgiving !






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90 Responses to Hostess

  1. Ally Bean says:

    It’s the good dishes that cause me to stumble, falling into my role as hostess with less than the mostess. I have to remember where the dishes are… and do they go with the only table linens that don’t look ratty… and where did I put those crystal candle holders… and on it goes, until I begin to think that eating at McDonalds would be a good idea.

    • The MIL advised me to buy service for 12 when I went shopping for china, saying I’d need them some day. I didn’t listen. It didn’t matter. I cared more about what was on them. Thanks, Ally.

  2. Other than a few minor details, I’ve lived that scene you described dozens of times! Everything needing attention all at once – yikes. We have a pretty casual, small family so many, many a time I’ve sat down to Thanksgiving (or Christmas) dinner in my ‘cooking clothes’… And you know, the food tasted just as wonderful even if I was wearing some of it! Ha! Happy Thanksgiving Van!!

    • It’s a lot of last minute coordination, kind of like “culinary Olympics”. I had a lot of years to practice, since we lived distant from extended family. My first big event was for the in-laws, who traveled to us. I insisted they need not contribute. That changed as time went on, and I asked for side dishes. Thanks, AGMA. Glad you relate.

  3. Bernadette says:

    Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with many reasons, large and small, to give thanks.

  4. markbialczak says:

    May this scene forever make you give thanks, Van. Happy big day to you and yours!

  5. Made me chuckle, and I can imagine me doing it. I can’t remember the last time I set a table for a meal I’d prepared. On the boat we didn’t have room for guests really, let alone a table and when MOH came to visit, or we go down there, we nearly always eat our meals from trays (plates thereon of course).

    • There was one occasion with family that I went casual…no formal table, guests filled a plate and took them where they wanted. Kids went for the video game area, some adults to the football game on tv, others stayed in the kitchen with the desserts and coffee. On the boat…that would have been a treat for me. Thanks, Di.

  6. I tend toward drill sergeant when I’m in holiday meal prep-mode – especially at the T minus 30 mark. My family forgives me. Which is a darn good thing.
    Happy thanksgiving, Van!

  7. dweezer19 says:

    Happy Thanksgiving. Your dinner sounds awesome. Except for the stuffing. We do cornbread dressing โ€˜down hereโ€™. It is a crazy fun time indeed.

  8. Haha.. Wonderful Van.. and wishing you and your family a most wonderful Thanksgiving, we have much to be thankful for. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love and Blessings my friend

  9. joey says:

    Haha! Nice! And I’m totally digging the potato water as binder tip! ๐Ÿ˜› Why have I never thought about that? Good one! Thanks!

    Therapists have a lot to say about neurotics and holiday dinners. I’M BETTER NOW lol!

    My last two Thanksgivings have been casual open house affairs, and this one will be, too. My outfit will be a sage green ‘track suit’ and an apron, pattern and color undecided. I will start when I rise and move leisurely. I do not set a time for dinner.
    I will use all the warm-colored Fiesta dishes and leave the blues in the cupboards. I can’t use tablecloths or place mats, because my cats think it’s an invitation. We usually use any ol napkins, but on Thursday we’ll use the green. No napkin holders, no specific stemware, no centerpieces. Anyone who shows up is close enough to appreciate our breezy ways, but it may well be just us four or five this year. I never know, really.

    • I’m much better now…ha ha. I set out an outfit while in the south, where it was 75 degrees outside, 95 inside, so when it came time to eat, I stayed in a tank top and shorts. No one seemed to care. Your Fiesta colors and track suit work well for the season. I always seem to know the numbers, they make an effort to get here. But small works for me, too.
      And as for the potatoes, I read a recent tip that restaurants use…make them ahead of time and just mash. Refrigerate. Before serving, blend them into a pot of warmed milk/cream, butter. It’s supposed to be their secret to getting them creamier. ??? (but, no gravy water.) Enjoy it all, Joey.

      • joey says:

        Interesting. I won’t fiddle with potato water today, but I will give it a go sometime and see how it works for me.
        I have done the mash thing before, quite often while I worked, and it works, I concur, but I wouldn’t do it today, either, because I don’t have a cauldron! lol Probably takes two stock pots to do today’s!
        At the grocery last night, we were almost run over by a mommy under pressure! I believe she was hosting LOL! I hope she’s got her fill of wine today.
        Happy Thanksgiving ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thanks, Joey. We’re digesting now…all is good. Hope yours is going just as well. ๐Ÿฆƒ

      • joey says:

        Good ๐Ÿ™‚ It was great!

  10. Val Boyko says:

    Smiling … Thanks Van for bringing it home and into our hearts. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿฆƒ ๐Ÿ

  11. Isn’t it wonderful to cook in your pyjamas. I hope you get lots of help with the washing up. Happy Thanksgiving ๐ŸŒผ

  12. This is a lovely post, Van. I can picture the scene so well, and I bet that meal was delicious, and nobody minded you being in your pjs! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. C.E.Robinson says:

    Happy a Thanksgiving, Van! Loved the holiday scene and your Thanksgiving prep! Yep, going to cook this year. The first time in many! A 21-year-old granddaughter is coming for the day & overnight. Sheโ€™s attending an Art Design/Interior Decorating program in a nearby city. Canโ€™t believe the meal prep is the same for one or more. Just smaller amounts! Still, there will be a huge take home goodie bag for her! ๐ŸŒท Christine

    • Isn’t it interesting that we do the same work for 2, 3 or 20 ?? The process is the same, there are just more/fewer leftovers. Enjoy your company, and your cooking, Christine. Thanks.

  14. DGGYST says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. ha ha ha. Love this! I’m not even that put together, Van. Happy Thanksgiving with the whole gang. โค

  16. Erika Kind says:

    I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, Van!

  17. I love Rockwell ๐Ÿค“ have a happy celebration Van โ˜บ๏ธ

  18. Joyful2bee says:

    Have wonderful Thanksgiving!!

  19. Happy Turkey Day, Van. New house rule: If YOU have been doing the cooking, my dear, anyone who has the gall to say a thing about your attire gets to take over while you change at your leisure (*and* they have to do the dishes!).

    LOL – enjoy your turkey in your pjs. (lovely ending to this little tale). Me too!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

  20. Many a Thanksgiving dinners I made, solo. And loved every minute of it. Happy Thanksgiving Van~ Cook in the pajamas. Eat in the pajamas. And have fun!

  21. Drooling. You have this. You do.

  22. Thanksgiving is a lot of work to put together but the effort is so worth it WHEN you have an appreciative family! Happy Thanksgiving, Van, to you and your family! Just to make you feel better, one day I went to the library and while walking in the parking lot I stopped in horror. I honestly did not know if I still had my pj bottoms on. Thank heavens I had changed into jeans. Whew! I’ve gone outside in pj’s not realizing … I forgot to get dressed. LOL ๐Ÿ˜‚

  23. George says:

    In a heartbeat..:)
    Happy Thanksgiving, Van..:)

  24. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!

  25. Reblogged this on Art by Rob Goldstein and commented:
    from vanbytheriver

  26. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negroโ„ข.

  27. Lady G says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Van! Many blessings to you and yours!

  28. orvillewrong says:

    Wishing you a wonderful thanksgiving from England!

  29. Love this post! This is my life! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

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  32. -Eugenia says:

    Happy Belated Thanksgiving.

  33. Indeed. I’ve often found myself in the same position. However, when guests arrive, I usually say “Didn’t I tell you it was a fancy-dress party?”
    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, Van.

  34. I really like this description of the holiday cooking scene before the guests arrive. It sets the scene for a loving, nurturing welcome for all to enjoy. Thanks for the mental and heartfelt picture.

  35. This is so much fun and a great description of reality! Last year I forgot to defrost the turkey and it was the night before. My son went and bought a fresh one!

  36. dgkaye says:

    Love it Van. And next time, why not stay in your pyjamas too, ok, maybe just loungewear. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. timholman says:

    I could hear and taste everything in the description. Great post – I’ll be back!

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