Friday, November 18, 2011

planning my peaceful pre-Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving: the food, the family, the crisp Fall day dedicated to nothing other than both. But somehow it snuck up this year, and I am finding myself feeling slightly overwhelmed by all I used to do in past years. Inspired by this post on Simple Mom (which, ironically, my dear friend Leslie forwarded me on... um, November 11th, and I didn't have a chance to read until this morning...), I have decided to pare back a bit this year. The good intentions are still there, but there's a need to be more practical this year. I will still cook the feast on Thanksgiving (despite our kitchen that is bordering on full collapse with now 1 or 2 working burners (depending upon the day), and a semi-functioning fridge and now single oven), but I am going to get organized this weekend and be realistic about what I can accomplish cooking-wise. And, I still want to continue our tradition of gifting dishes of Homemade Pumpkin Cannelloni with Sage Cream Sauce to the boys' teachers, but this year we are simplifying a bit.

Last year, we made pumpkin cannelloni for all of them. It started out simple enough. Some onions, shallots and garlic chopped in the Cuisinart... many cans of organic pumpkin puree, marscapone, and bottles of sherry I lost count...

...Legos spread out all over the kitchen floor, the amazing smell of the pumpkin filling bubbling away on the (then fully functioning) range.

I'd thought nothing of a day trip to the Container Store, where I filled two shopping carts with glass containers,

excitedly filling them with this labor of love.

Our kitchen was transformed into a pumpkin cannelloni factory, of sorts.

A happily humming factory, where every surface was put to good use.

And at the end of the day, the fridge was filled with 28 dishes (yes, 28) of Pumpkin Cannelloni. The boys and I delivered each dish to one of their current or past teachers the next day, to be enjoyed with their families during the week of Thanksgiving. It was one of those times when 'tis way more fun to give than to receive. But this year, for a variety of reasons, I just can't swing this massive effort. It's been in the back on my mind, this guilt that we did something so special last year and we're not doing it again this year. But then I had to take a step back and think about how my children and I can still do this fabulous project together, but keep it manageable from a planning, time and cost perspective. It's not the majesty of last year, but I have to remind myself that it still means a very special, very well-deserved night "off" for each of my children's two current main teachers and their families.

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