Monday, December 2, 2013

The Saturday After Thanksgiving Day Day - Memories Are Made to be Made

Saturday, November 30, 2013
For The Record

I can’t tell you what the weather was like today because I was too busy getting ready for our “The Saturday after Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Day Gathering”.

I suppose our family is not unique.  Lots of people get pulled in many different directions as they try to fit holiday visits in with in-laws, moms and dads separated by divorce, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles cousins and friends.

Our compromise is to have the kids and grandkids over on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Since I figure that everyone is turkyed out by then, we make my famous lasagna.

We’ve been doing this for a few years now and every year Ross and I ask each other the same questions.  We never can remember how much ground beef and sausage to buy for the meat sauce. We mull over how many cans of tomatoes and paste will be enough so that we have extra.  We can never recall how much ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan we need.  Every year I say we should write it down.

But the biggest dilemma is trying to figure out what pans we should use to bake the lasagna in.

Every year, as we are hunting through our cupboards looking for suitable pans, Ross is reminded of the perfect lasagna pans he saw in the “Cooks Illustrated” magazine that he subscribes to.
 And each year he says the same thing, “I should have gotten those pans.”

So this year we did it.  It was last minute, but we ran out late on Wednesday and purchased two white porcelain ceramic, 9 x 13, with handles, perfect lasagna pans.  The brand is HIC (Harold Imports Company).

HIC is not a retail outfit.  You can purchase their products at various stores and online from other retailers.  We bought ours from Kitchen Kapers in Marlton NJ.

We give it *****.
The white porcelain is oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.  It is pretty enough to have a place on the dining table.

Three standard brand lasagna noodles fit perfectly across.  The dish handles three layers, which is also perfect.  The lasagna bakes evenly.  One of the best features are the handles.  They make it safe and easy when it is time to take the hot dish out of the oven.
And clean up is a breeze.
Now as long as we don’t store these pans in some tuck-away place, there will not be a  question of which pans we will use next time for the lasagna.

We were quite organized this year.   It seems like Ross has been making shopping lists for two weeks already.  I made the meatballs on Thursday.   We made the gravy (for non-Italians that would be the sauce) on Friday morning.   We put the lasagna together, very nicely I might add, in our new perfect lasagna pans.

Dinner time was set for 2:00.

The first “guests” to arrive were Anne and Domani.  Domani rang the door bell.  I peeked out of the sidelight window and saw his serious little face expectantly looking up at the door.  He reminded me so much of Joey in that moment.   I tapped on the window and when he saw me his whole being from tip to toe became animatedly happy and excited.

Ross was sitting on the sofa watching Domani, Anne and I put together a Toy Story puzzle when the front door opened and the next one to arrive entered.

I thought that I would be overcome with emotion, but it seemed so natural to see him come on into the house.  It was as if I were whooshed back to a time when it was that way.  I have to admit, I took a few seconds to savor the moment before I got up to greet him.

The oven buzzed telling me it was time to take the lasagna out of the oven.  It makes the biggest difference when you let it rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes before you cut into it.

The phone rang and it was Jen.   She was at the front gate and there was a sign on the gatehouse.
“Be Back in a Few Minutes.”
I thought, “How strange.”  But I guess even the 24/7 guard has to answer the call of nature once in a while.

A few seconds later the door bell rang again.  Derek came in carrying a sleeping Jax.  Jen had a dish of cookies in one hand and a pie in the other.   Bella hugged me.  Ryan slipped by and he and Domani  headed for the “toy” room.

So, even though Ross and I were super organized, with everything we could possibly do to get things ready a head of time, the chaos of getting food onto to the table inevitably ensued.

Times like this, when we are together, are blissful,  But times like this are also filled with such a mixture of emotions for me.

After dinner I stood in the kitchen doorway looking out into the living room.   I quietly watched my family.  Anne and Jen were sitting on the sofa chatting. Derek was rocking and bouncing his new son Jackson, trying to get him to sleep.  Jimmy was standing aside, looking at Domani and Ryan rambunctiously  playing and I thought about how difficult it must for him.

It’s at times like that, during the quiet time, when I stand apart from the rest, that’s when I feel the loss the most.
I thought about the time Joe came through the door carrying a sleeping Domani.  It was the day that Joe took Domani to the beach for the first time.
I am reminded of the last time Kenny and Ty were here.  It was a hard day, that day.  The boys were spending the night with us.  They were upset, wanting their mother and their father.  I had put a mattress on the floor for them to sleep on, fearing they would fall off the bed.  I squeezed in between them and read a story or two or three to them until they fell asleep.
And the next day Pop-pop and I took them to the beach, for the last time.

When it was time for Anne and Domani to leave, Domani decided he would rather spend a little more time with us.  As he rebelled against putting his jacket on, wriggling his arms out of the sleeves and then running away, displaying a little bit of a temper, I thought about how difficult it must be for Anne at time like this without Joe to help.

When it was time for Jimmy to walk out of the front door, wrapped in the knitted scarf, hat and fingerless mitts I made for him, I wanted to hold on to him forever.  “Text me when you get home, okay?”

Ross turned on the TV.  Ryan came into the room.  Where had he been hiding this whole day?  He flopped on the sofa and he and Pop-pop started watching Superman.  I went over to the sofa and sat down next to Ryan.  I grabbed him and snuck in a hug.  He giggled and wiggled out of my arms.

As I sat with Jackson, happy and content on my lap, smiling up at his big sister, I realized that this Saturday after Thanksgiving Day, day will be filled with the memories of my family, each and every one of them, because they actually were all here in one way or another.

By the way, Ross, I couldn’t have done this without you.  My goodness, you cleaned up the whole kitchen.  I didn’t have to wash a dish.  It was nice to have the time to sit and relax and make memories.

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