A little picture history of our family at Thanksgiving…
We were newlyweds, having tied the knot in April 2006 after dating for almost eight years, starting in college. You’ll notice the table is set with our wedding china, things look nice, and I’ll go ahead and tell you we cooked everything from scratch for our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. You’ll also notice something else.
That ain’t a turkey, folks. Yes, I’m about halfway pregnant with Christina, our first baby. (And that’s sparkling grape juice, if you were wondering.) We cooked a turkey, along with green beans the way my husband likes them and potatoes and stuffing the way I like them. (Note that both of us come from backgrounds involving pretty traditional Thanksgiving foods- that’s lucky and will be important later in this narrative.
Notice something different?
Christina, about eight months old, eating bits of stuffing and turkey (which she probably won’t touch this coming year, pickypants.) Thanksgiving that year fell on November 22. Why do I remember that? Because it’s the date that was later used to calculate the due date of my second daughter, Rebecca, who arrived the following July.
Same me (not pregnant, this time), same table, same traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Looking back at our pictures, this is the Thanksgiving we had guests- my paralegal and her husband. I don’t remember this Thanksgiving very fondly (though looking at this picture, I sure as heck LOOKED nice.)
Miss “I’m a Big Sister” was fine…
But THIS little sprout screamed the entire meal. She was in the throes of colic, at its worst. I don’t think I sat. Nursing didn’t help, walking didn’t help, pacifier didn’t help, music, hugs, cuddles, sleep… Rebecca wanted nothing at all to do with any of it.
She’s gotten a little bit better since the colic passed. Still more high-strung than her sister, but such is life.
Within a few months of Thanksgiving 2008, I was pregnant again.
This is the one I’m writing about today. My due date with Allison was December 18, so by Thanksgiving, I was pretty darn good and pregnant, and miserable- at almost 37 weeks, I was ready to get her out, as soon as possible. (Rebecca had arrived at 35 weeks.) And I… was wiped. Quite early on, I decided a few things:
(1) I wasn’t going to cook. What if I went into labor with a turkey in the oven?
(2) I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted the comforts of home.
(3) I didn’t want to host anyone but my immediate family.
(4) I did want Thanksgiving to be Thanksgiving, and I wanted the food- I just didn’t want to make it.
We’d ordered catering from the local grocery store’s deli for Christina and Rebecca’s baptism, and I had a vague memory of them doing pre-made holiday dinners. So, though it seemed like total blasphemy, we ordered one.
And… wow. It was more or less exactly what we’d have cooked anyway (though I’d have gone for green beans over carrots), and it FELT like Thanksgiving, even though we hadn’t cooked it aside from throwing it into the oven.
Also, I know you want to see what the girls grew into:
There are no pictures of me that Thanksgiving. Though I was pleased with the food, I was absolutely miserable- besides being 8+ months pregnant, I was sick with what was diagnosed shortly as bronchitis, and my husband was sick enough himself that he couldn’t do much to help. (Rebecca was sick too. We were quite a bunch.)
But, four days later, on Cyber Monday, here’s a picture of me.
What have we learned from this trip down memory lane?
Really, the most important thing I’ve learned is that a wonderful Thanksgiving meal can be had without effort. Yes, I bought a pre-made Thanksgiving dinner because I was eight months pregnant and sick as a dog. And yes… I’m going to do it again, and I am neither pregnant nor ill. I’m ordering it tonight. At our local grocery store, it costs $50- and this comes with a medium turkey, vegetables, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy. We throw in some bread and a pie and we’re set. There was plenty for leftovers- I remember eating the last of it when I came home from the hospital the following Tuesday. So cost-effective, and time-effective- though it’s not quite what Mom makes, it’s close, and it leaves the day free for fun and play (or, in my case last year, coughing and being kicked by a fetus.)
I’m giving thanks that this option is there for me this year. I’m giving thanks for the family who loves me and doesn’t care if the turkey is cooked from raw or just heated up.
(Two out of three kids agree- they’d rather Mom save her energy for homemade mac and cheese, anyway.)