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Monday, 10 October 2011

Turkey Hangover a la Beach House

As I write this, it’s the morning after Thanksgiving and the sun peaks over the far side of Lake Winnipeg. Streaming shades of pinks and oranges swirl across the pale sky. Its simple beauty fills me with peace and reminds me of how lucky I am to be a 'flatlander.' Like the wheat fields, the lake seems to go on forever; our own inland sea. The vastness makes me feel free…I’m a prairie girl to the core.

As my gaze leaves the calming vista, I glance around our tiny beach house and my inner peace wobbles. Thanksgiving debris covers every surface. A few stray forks lay on the table, entwined with the fall-leaf garland. Scraps of orange and silver foil wraps, from the mini-pumpkin chocolates my daughters insisted were tradition, litter the carpet. I know that the kitchen holds more turkey feast casualties. The gravy pan, casserole dishes and cutlery have sat all night and will have food cemented on them harder than Plaster of Paris.

14 for dinner last night meant an “all hands on deck” all day prep for Cottage Carmichael, with the most crucial question hanging in the air.

How do we squeeze 14 into a 600 square foot cottage, for a sit down dinner?

Like the list-making, over-analyzing planner I am, I sketched out a 5 step plan.

It went a little like this:

Step 1

Welcome them with a steaming cup of mulled wine

Step 2

Calm them around the campfire

Step 3

More mulled wine

Step 4

Play in mounds of leaves, shoving handfuls down Grandpa’s back

Step 5

A splash more of mulled wine

The result, of my carefully crafted plan?

Happy and relaxed guests not bothered by the table leg wedged tight against their right foot. Guests oblivious to how dangerously close their elbows come to knocking over their glass of Cabernet, when they reach for seconds and thirds of the sweet potato pie.

And was the effort worth it? Is the still disastrous kitchen, food now petrifying, an acceptable consequence of a night surrounded by in-laws?  Yes, in-laws. But not just ordinary in-laws…The World’s Best In-Laws were at my cottage this weekend.

Another reason to be thankful; for family who never complain about the hour drive to the cottage every Thanksgiving to sit around a table, like sardines in a can, and eat a turkey often over done and hours late, and tell me every year, “This is the best turkey, yet!” (I refuse to believe it’s the mulled wine talking.)

So, it’s a resounding “yes.” The effort was worth it, the clean up a small price to pay for another weekend at our little slice of heaven just an hour north of Winnipeg, surrounded by family and overflowing with love, dry turkey and gravy.

But maybe next year we’ll consider paper plates. Easy clean up. Another reason to be thankful.

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