The first year I hosted Thanksgiving dinner was not a replica of a Norman Rockwell painting.  Initially, my husband felt it would be too much work for me to cook, take care of our eight month old, and entertain his family and so he quickly declined my offer to host.  My husband can be temporarily helpful on holidays and would rather watch football for the day.  Silently I agreed with him that to host would be too much on us.  I was off the hook!! However,  the feeling didn’t last long.

A week before the holiday, we were visiting his family and talk of Thanksgiving came up.  My sister-in-law approached me and asked what she could bring for dinner.  To clear up any confusion, I mentioned to her that my husband and I would not be hosting the annual feast.   She scrunched up her face and responded, “I already talked to my brother, and Thanksgiving is at your house, so there!”  Wow, did I really just hear her speak to me like that?  I felt like a 5 year old in a sandbox in which I was not allowed to play.  My husband would not give me eye contact, confirming that they did indeed discuss and decide that Thanksgiving was to be in our home.  Now what?  A menu was quickly discussed.  My brother-in-law offered to bring a vegetable, my sister-in-law offered to bring a vegetable and a dessert, and my mother-in-law didn’t offer.

As the holiday gained on me, the house had to be cleaned, and the remainder of dinner bought for:  turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing ingredients, corn, potatoes dinner rolls, an extra apple pie, etc.  So far, so good.

On Thanksgiving  morning, I got up early to get the turkey in the oven.  Within a few hours, the house was filled with the aroma of dinner, yet there was still much to do.   About an hour before guests were to arrive, the doorbell rang.  I wasn’t ready for guests yet.  Who could that be?  My mother-in-law and father-in-law stepped in carrying a baked ham and a side dish of cranberry.  Hmm, what was I to do with a ham when I had a turkey in the oven?  I guess along with my cranberry dish, we would put hers at the other end of the table.

The rest of the guests arrived with the exception of my sister-in-law.  We waited as long as we could before the turkey became petrified and decided that the other 15 guests needed to eat.  Two hours later everyone knew that she had arrived.  My sister-in-law entered the house complaining that she was not able to make her vegetable side dish and dessert since she was out the night before and didn’t get time to cook.   She handed me our third bowl of cranberry for the day and a cookie tray with stuffing laid out across it.  My sister-in-law continued to tell us that she could only bring food she had already in her house.  She had the cranberry in her refrigerator, and the stuffing was in her freezer from the previous year’s Thanksgiving. I was speechless.

Fortunately, my brother-in-law spoke up and reminded her that she shouldn’t have admitted that last part.  My life has been full of holiday surprises ever since.