My sister moved away.

Since 1999, and even before that, we have spent Thanksgiving together. There were a few years where I lived in Florida – then we spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s side of the family or we’d drive over to the east coast of Florida to be with my dad and my other sister. But we were always with some part of our family.

This year we are flying solo. My husband runs an outdoor skating rink that opens the day after Thanksgiving and closes at the end of January. This keeps us firmly planted at home throughout the entire holiday season – traveling more than an hour is out of the question.

And I am left to cook the Thanksgiving dinner, which is both good and bad. It’s good because I see it as a challenge; can I get all dishes on the table hot and ready simultaneously? It’s a task I’ve struggled with in the past. Plus, my culinary aptitude is marginal at best – I’d rank me somewhere above cafeteria food and below a good diner.

Both of my sisters can cook and cook well. They love it. I’ve had too many meals where nobody goes for seconds and plates are put by the sink with helping #1 largely intact – this is not a confidence booster. Every now and then I hit it out of the park, but for the most part my meals are average.

When we would have Thanksgiving with my sister and her family I would bring creamed spinach, which I somehow have become very good at making, and canned biscuits, which I cannot screw up – unless I bake them at my house where in my 30+ year old oven the bottoms were always blackened. I have, however, figured how to remedy this situation.

My sister? She’d cook all the rest. The turkey, the stuffing, the green bean casserole and the mashed potatoes & gravy. She may even throw in a corn casserole if the mood struck her or if we had extra guests. She’d also make dessert – there may be a store bought apple pie, but there was always some other luscious concoction that she made from scratch – apple dumplings or a chocolate trifle.

So let’s recap: for the past decade plus, my Thanksgiving cooking to do list consisted of creamed spinach and some Pillsbury Grands – now the whole she-bang is in my lap.

Last night I made the spinach – that tastes better after it’s had day to sit and meld anyway. This morning I’ll make an apple pie and the stuffing. Then I’ll only have to worry about the mashed potatoes, the turkey and the gravy. I also have to make a brownie parfait sometime today for my youngest who, by some odd genetic mishap, does not care for apple pie. But that’s ok; her dad and older sister will have the pie devoured by 9 am tomorrow morning.

While I will be busy today and preoccupied with cooking (and then dishes), I’m sure there will be a point later tonight where as I sit on the couch in a wine/turkey/brownie haze I’ll think about my family.

I’ll think back on Thanksgivings at my Pop-Pop’s where we’d all sit at a long table with the cuckoo clock ticking in the background.

I’ll think back on Thanksgivings at my parent’s house where my siblings sat with husbands and wives (and eventually nieces and nephews) and my dad would carve the turkey in his red plaid pants.

And, I’ll think back on Thanksgivings with my sister, where our two families would drink, eat, and crack each other up.

The page has turned…this holiday is about to take on a new shape with me at the helm – burnt biscuit bottoms and all.

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