For those of you who were wondering how one cooks a twelve-course meal, including a 12lb. bird, in a kitchen that looks like this:
Fear not. I'm about to enlighten you. As this was my first attempt at cooking for more than 4 people, I proceeded by trial-and-error. Error: blowing a fuse by baking a turkey, sauteeing onions, and boiling water all at once. Error: blowing a fuse yet again by baking a turkey, boiling potatoes, and listening to the radio all at once. Error: blowing the fuse once more by baking sweet potatoes, reducing gravy, and checking email all at once. Gak. Having, FINALLY, learned from my mistakes, I pushed the estimated serve time back about five hours and cooked one. thing. at. a. time. The boys were occupied by creating a paper tablecloth for the outside table (the only one that could hold us all!)
I put the dishes that were finished on top of the toaster oven to stay warm while other things cooked. I let go of my need to make everything from scratch and allowed my friends to bring rolls and pie. I listened to the Nat King Cole station on Pandora for 12 hours straight, long enough for 13 versions of "Baby, it's Cold Outside" to cycle through.
We had a wonderful time. The table the boys decorated turned out beautifully,
everyone had plenty to eat, and the storebought rolls were, predictably, the biggest hit. After twelve hours of prep, the meal was over in about 15 minutes. Then came cleanup. In a sink the size of a thimble.
And, just for the sake of science, here is what the dish drainer looks like after the detritus of a wonderful, joyous meal has been run through a thimble-sized sink. My cup--and my counter---runneth over.
I learn so much about the true nature of ritual and celebration every time I try to create one in limiting circumstances. I learn that joy has little to do with the setting and everything to do with the participants. I learn that little boys can make a celebration out of ANYTHING (including an old washcloth, a handful of chicken feathers, and some lego pieces). I learn that the less I worry about getting everything right, the more fun everybody has.
This year, I also learned that escaping right away to play in the snowy mountains with one's boyfriend is a great way to dissipate any accumulated stress.
I have so much to be grateful for.