by Barbara Jane Robinson
I have always enjoyed having guests for the holidays. When my four children were small and still at home, I cooked huge family meals. It was hard to adjust to cooking for only one or two people, once they were grown and gone. When you are used to cooking for an army, cooking only for yourself is just not the same. I had been cooking turkey and dressing since I was ten years old. My stepfather used to bring home a huge turkey from the shipyard as his Thanksgiving and Christmas bonus. Mom and my stepfather showed me how to make the dressing and stuff the turkey at an early age. I looked forward to the holidays even then because they meant that I would be allowed in the kitchen to help Mom cook. She taught me how to make fudge, and I was allowed to make it for the holidays, too. I loved to cook and to decorate for the holidays.
However, one particular Thanksgiving, I lived in a small, ten-foot wide trailer, with a tiny kitchen and living room area. I had invited the family for Thanksgiving, and the family showed up, along with many uninvited guests. I couldnít have cared less. I had cooked plenty of food, and I was glad to have someone to enjoy and appreciate it.
The guests praised my cooking, and they did not mind that I did not have enough chairs to seat them, or enough forks, plates, and glasses to feed them. Someone went next door to my sister-in-law's house and down to my mother-in-law's and brought back borrowed forks, plates, and glasses, and we had a fine time. Some people would have been ashamed that they did not have enough dinnerware to go around, but I was not. I told my guests, honestly, that I had not expected so many, but that I had plenty of food, and we would just have to find eating utensils and somewhere to sit. At least, I had one more chair than Henry David Thoreau. In his book, Walden, he wrote that he had only three chairs in his house. He said he had ". . . one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society."
We pulled it off. We found borrowed dinnerware, and the Thanksgiving meal was not spoiled. We were thankful that we had a good meal to enjoy. We were thankful that we had each other's company that day, and that is the way that it should be. I did not try to make a big deal out of it, and I did not try to impress, but my guests were impressed by my cooking and hosting skills. They had not come for a big production, and they did not care for someone trying to impress them. They had come for a good Thanksgiving meal, and they got it. I was a simple person, and I liked things simple. That was probably the best Thanksgiving that I ever had because I got to cook and entertain for it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The borrowed utensils did not matter. We were a close-knit family group, and we were glad to include friends. Fancy plates did not matter, nor did a fancy setting. Warmth and friendliness more than made up for whatever trivial items were lacking.
Remember that it does not take fancy plates, a fancy setting, or a large home to have a great Thanksgiving with family and friends. Those are trivial items that can be done without. The meat of the meal, the heart of the family, and thanking God for what you have is what counts most.
Barbara J. Robinson, award-winning writer and educator, is the author of Magnolia: A Wilting Flower and the soon to be released book titled The Lord had Something Better in Mind. Read a free prologue and poems at her web site by clicking here. Barbaraís books may be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble online, and WalMart.com.
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