Over the last few years, gatherings around our extended family’s holiday table have dwindled, sad to say. We’ve lost the older generation of grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and while I’m blessed to still have both my parents, the scores of side dishes and days of preparation are over.
Dinner was pretty simple this year: my dad’s special brined turkey and sausage stuffing, the creamed onions he only makes at Thanksgiving, my mom’s fancy cranberry sauce spiked with undiluted Grand Marnier liqueur, and a pumpkin pie using almond instead of cow’s milk to accommodate my new diet. Mashed potatoes and roasted butternut squash rounded out the menu, and I even tried my first turkey liver to fulfill a weekly quota of organ meat.
I have to admit it was refreshing not to crowd my plate with so many different foods that outer fringes of peas and brussels sprouts rolled off the brink, and real estate around my place setting became a maze of bread plates, dessert forks and wine glasses. In the past, main dishes grew cold waiting for the rest of the meal to find its way to the table. My mother was often so exhausted the next day that my father took her out for a drive and a nice lunch to get her away from the tremendous pressure of the holidays.
There were just four of us gathered for the holiday meal this year. No need for place cards or a children’s table. The kitchen counter wasn’t groaning under the weight of dirty pots and pans. Clean up took an hour instead of a whole night switching sodden dish drying towels. Our smaller turkey actually fit into the refrigerator along with a manageable amount of leftovers.
And while I do miss the relatives who made the holidays special and colorful, let it be known that I’ll never wish to live up to the reputation of a Norman Rockwell holiday feast ever again, however nostalgic.
Happy holidays from 900 square feet.
Once a month for the next twelve, I’ll feature another step in the downsizing journey that didn’t just begin when we sold our suburban house and moved to a small walk-up apartment in June of 2014. This shift to a simpler life has been years in the making, and I hope you’ll join me in my family’s quest to get down to basics. My inaugural post entitled Giving It All Away was featured in July, Make It Stick in August, Following Your Feet in September, and Case of the Missing Mac in October.