Sunday, November 30, 2008

I’m All Growed Up!

holidays at my house: i hosted thanksgiving this year like a real grown-up person with a house that can host holidays. i wrestled away the honor from both my mom and sister, who seemed all too eager to pass it onto me. this was my first time doing such a thing and i surprised myself with how badly i wanted to host the holiday — a wholly stressful experience i wish NOT to repeat next year — but since this was the inaugural thanksgiving in the new house, i was hellbent on creating a happy family memory inside it.

the good crystal: thankfully, Mo had his mother’s china stored in boxes in the basement, saving us from having to eat off paper plates. but because we don’t really have a dining area — with most dining taking place on the deck — my pops bought us a foldable table, which we supplemented with bright yellow chairs from Ikea. with a few maneuvers and a striped purple tablecloth, we had a dining room in the center of the living room.

my pops! he performed his usual holiday activity of sitting on the couch and watching a football game while asking intermittently, “is food wready yet? hungry man ovur here.”

my moms! she was there, too, hounding me with her digital camera.

i put her to work: making the rosemary roasted potatoes.

my sister! she was busy making her buttery garlic shrimp and stir-fried asparagus. i stayed busy sorta supervising and savoring the chaos that usually ensues when my family gets together. you’d be surprised how much noise three jewish women in a kitchen can make. and this time we were in my kitchen making noise while preparing the feast, and that felt pretty cool.

my nephew! i can’t believe i used to change this kid’s diaper. Derek’s 7 now, smiley and cute as hell.

the cousins! they played beautifully and shared all their toys.

dinner’s ready: for thanksgivings with my family, there are a few things you can count on: 1) there will be vodka on the table (note the bottle of Level I in the background); 2) there will be no turkey on the table (we all hate it); 3) there will be russian cold cuts, cheese, and smoked sausage and fish plates on the table (because that’s how we roll in the old world).

the “turkey”: my folks brought over cooked meat from an armenian deli near their house. inside that hollowed-out super loaf of bread are about 12 pounds of pork chops, grilled chicken and beef kabobs. this meant we had an abundance of food (another thing you can count on), and i was instructed not to prepare the stuffed chicken, wild rice and butternut squash i had sitting in the fridge. that was cooked a few nights later when Mo and i had friends over to consume what was left of the meat pile.

i made the salad: tossed with delectable homemade dressing! ok, it was just oil and vinegar, but still.

yes, dad, the food is ready: “is vodtka on table?”

then we ate: and laughed and rejoiced and toasted to many things, including the house. my pops got particularly sentimental (after a few shots), saying how proud he was of his baby girl (me!) and how happy he felt to be eating thanksgiving in my house. i told him i was happy, too, and that i couldn’t have done it without his support. with that, a holiday memory was created and the house hosted it beautifully.

meanwhile: my nephew was still playing with the dogs, stopping to ask intermittently, “is dessert ready? i’d like some ice cream, please!”

it was ready: four-flavor cheesecake, apple pie a la mode and the best flan in the whole damn universe, bought from a highland park bakery. it was deliciously sinful, and because i didn’t want to offend the house i made sure to sample everything.

Mo said yes to cheesecake: and the flan, too.

we look nothing alike: my darling sister, Tatyana, had never been to the house before and decided that her housewarming gift would be washing all the dishes after dinner. because she tortured me regularly during our childhood, i made sure to add a few extra dishes to the stack. just kidding! i helped dry them.

Juice on the loose: the holiday meal ended the same way all other meals at the house end — with Juice surveying every inch of the floor in search of food crumbs. beyond that, the leftovers were split three ways, goodbyes were exchanged and i marveled for a moment at hosting my first thanksgiving before proceeding to collapse, exhausted, into bed.

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