I love Thanksgiving. It is my second favorite holiday, coming in a very close second to Christmas. I love the idea of dedicating an entire day on the blessings of your life. Plus, the non-stop football, basketball, and baking just add to the "fantasticness" of the day.
So, when the members of Lea Road found out how much I adore this particular holiday, they were quick to inform me that it was a tradition (of one year) for the American volunteer to host a Thanksgiving dinner! In blind enthusiasm I immediately accepted the challenge. What I did not realize at that time was it was a dinner for 30-40 people. Now, I know my way around the kitchen, and have been known to dabble in the "fixins" of Thanksgiving; however, I have never undertaken cooking an ENTIRE Thanksgiving by myself. Add in the fact that the number ended up being about 35, and well it made for an interesting couple of days!
So, let's start from the beginning...
The Menu: turkey (duh!), honey glazed ham, country herb stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, peas, green beans, and gravy. With dessert including pumpkin pies and buckeyes.
I was lucky enough that Steph, one of the elders, offered to take me to the grocery. So off we went in search of all of the necessary ingredients. Our first kerfuffle came way of trying to find a turkey. Fresh turkeys this time of year are very rare because apparently, they are still alive and getting fat for Christmas. We eventually found a turkey crown. For those of you not hip to the turkey lingo, a crown is a boneless, legless, wingless hunk of turkey breast. When I first laid eyes on "Herbert" (Steph named him), I was appalled... What kind of bird doesn't have arms or legs? I didn't want to cook a fake turkey! But alas, it came to pass that "Herbert" made a fine bird and turned out to be very delicious.
The second issue came about whist trying to find the ingredients for the corn casserole. In order to make this delicious side dish, one requires "Jiffy" corn bread mix. Well, the English don't really have corn bread. They do, however, have Qoran (pronounced just like corn), a tofu type meat substitute. So after asking a manager in Waitrose where I could find the corn bread mix, he marched to a package of Qoran fritters (aka breaded hunks of tofu). In the end, I had to Google a new recipe.
After unloading all of the groceries, I began to take on the task of the six pumpkins pies that needed to be baked. I got into an argument with the even which I ended up losing with a very burnt right arm to show for it. But, have not fear, for I lost that battle, but I won the war. So, two days, about 20 hours of cooking later and with the help of some really special people, a beautiful meal was served.
First, of course, the grace was said and I was able to tell the story of the Legend of the Five Kernels:
It was very cold for the Pilgrims that first winter. Food was in short supply. Some days, they had only five kernels of corn. When spring came, the Pilgrims planted the remaining corn. The sun and rain helped the seed to grow and much food was harvested in the fall. Every Thanksgiving thereafter, the Pilgrims placed five kernels of corn beside each plate to remind them of their blessings:
The first kernel reminded them of the autumn beauty.
The second reminded them of their love for each other.
The third reminded them of their family's love.
The fourth reminded them of their friends...especially their Indian brothers.
The fifth kernel reminded them of their freedom.
I love this idea because it is five simple things that have such a big impact on everyone's lives.
So, throughout the week, a number of people had asked me how I was dealing with being away from home for the holidays. And, in all honesty I thought it was going to be incredibly difficult. Enter in the wonders of Skype. Skype is definitely one of the things I am especially thankful for this year! I brought my computer into the kitchen with me and was able to Skype with my mom on a number of occasions. This was particularly helpful when, on a number of occasions, I had to hold the computer over the stove and say, "Is this what this is supposed to look like?" She was incredibly patient with me and at times it was like we were in the same kitchen, preparing the same meal. I find it to be incredibly tragic that in the absence of something is when you find you appreciate it the most.
After preparing such a large meal, I must make a promise to my mother...I promise to always be in the kitchen helping you with Thanksgiving (and for that matter Christmas) dinner from this year forward! Anyone that takes on these kinds of dinners deserve all sorts of awards...I had help...so the compliments on the pies and turkey were enough for me!
To conclude this festive post, it seems appropriate to tell you all some of the things I am most thankful for.
So here it goes...The Top 10 (kind of like Sportscenters Top 10 plays) things Sarah Watson is most thankful for: (in no particular order)
1) The people in my community willing to take part in foreign traditions
2) Running...and an efficient way to explore a new city
4) My growing relationship with God
5) Fresh fruit
6)Wonderful friends who have the ability to make me laugh on difficult days
7) My YAGM, YAGM UK, and TFG families
8) Lea Road Community Church and all of the wonderful people who have made me feel welcome in my new home
9) FirstRow.eu...so I can keep up with THE Ohio State Buckeyes and the Duke Blue Devils
10) An incredibly supportive family (i.e. parents who know exactly what you
need when you need it, and a brother whose sarcastic comments can make
your sides hurt from laughter.)
I hope that you all had an amazing Thanksgiving full of laughter, lots of delicious food, and even a little prayer. May God bless the food before us, the one beside us, and the love between us!
God is GREAT! And today especially, so is Life!!!