Thanksgiving Hosting: More Than a Tasty Turkey

The easy part
The easy part, is cooking the turkey.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Yes, I’m grateful for the many friends in Las Vegas who are like family to me.

So for several years, I have volunteered (with my husband) to host Thanksgiving dinner, even though we don’t regularly entertain AND our house is more “comfortable” than glamorous (read between the lines here).

For two days prior to Thanksgiving, I “straighten up” the house. In addition to vacuuming, mopping and trashing hundreds of countertop coupons and receipts, that means packing up the boxes and items to be returned to QVC and putting away those kitchen devices that are used only occasionally. I do not need the guests’ comments, “Oh I see you are still shopping at QVC” or “Oh, so you bought a SodaStream. How does it work?” (Fine). “Do you use it often?” (Not really). “Then are you glad you bought…” (For sure, hide the SodaStream.)

Then there are the area rugs which need moving. They drift and often aren’t in the places they are supposed to be. Why I don’t buy those rug stopper things, I don’t know. Our rugs look great, however, when guests arrive.

my nails are too long
What do you mean, my nails are too long?
Photo by Diane Taylor

The cushion in the lounge chair? Guests don’t need that cushion. I do for my….no need to know the specifics, but the cushion disappears for Thanksgiving.

I make the rounds looking for other things to be put away. I find two containers of 90-day smell-good sticks? They must be a year and a half old. How come I never realized the good smells had ceased to be?

Then there are the dog cages. (We have two dogs.) Normally, we keep the cages visible and useful for feeding, but when company comes, the cages disappear. The cages are heavy and somewhat bulky, but out they go. The dog dishes go as well. As far as the guests know, our dogs sit at the table and eat with us.

And the smells in the house? The smell-good sticks are gone, so we use a spray. We’ve lived with dogs so long, we can’t tell if the house reeks of pets or not. So just in case, one of the “rounds” prior to guests arriving is spraying every room. I’m fond of sprays that mimic the smell of cinnamon buns. Even in the bathroom, one smells cinnamon buns. The dogs are confused.

And the pills! Who needs to know we have an account at CVS to treat our various ailments, and we normally keep the pill bottles visible to remind us of pill time. When guests appear, they see no pill containers. I figure they will simply marvel at our wonderful good health.

Outside, the pots that have been “intended” for plants suddenly get plants as if I’ve been Susie gardener for months. The man at Home Depot says the plants will survive the winter. Great, but will they survive the Thanksgiving weekend? That’s all I ask.

Though our guests have had previous house tours, just in case they wander somewhere other than the kitchen, family room, guest bathroom and dining room, I attempt to straighten up my office. Everything in the office goes in one neat tall pile. Never has my office looked so pristine; I can’t find a thing.

My husband “really” cleans the guest bathroom. (I think I need to be offended at that description.) I clean the gunk on the stove. The counters get bathed in Windex (a tip from a fastidious German lady friend who once said, rightly, that “Vindex” makes granite counters shine). I wash and dry every dish so nothing is stacked in or near the sink (as is usually the case), and then I look at my hands. All this activity has caused chipping, peeling, etc. I have rubber gloves, why don’t I use them? Damn good question. I quick slap on another coat of nail polish.

Some days earlier, I made sure my hair was curled for Thanksgiving and got a long overdue permanent. Do you think the guests cared? Probably not.

The dogs can be a problem with company. They are friendly. They sometimes stand on hind legs to great visitors, with front paws resting on the visitors’ legs. (Our dogs have no discipline.) Long nails on dogs can give guests gashes…so a few days before Thanksgiving, the nails must be cut.

A trip to the garden
A trip to the garden and the lemon tree resulted in “warm and friendly” kitchen decorations.
Photo by Diane Taylor

I’ve tried to cut the dogs’ nails myself and had so much squirming and crying, I gave up. I even bought one of those grinders you see on TV and the noise was so horrific, the dogs were even more put off and I felt as if I was digging into concrete.

So. let’s just say that getting two dogs in and out of the car and into the groomer is not my favorite thing. “Do you want a blunt cut or a grinding which makes the nails round and lovely?” I’m asked. Playing the diva, I say, “Give me the best!” The grinding by a pro means neither of our dogs squirm. Amazing.

Guests at Thanksgiving also means I must make a show of a warm and friendly house. So out come the holiday decorations …. and the batteries, if one has the batteries. (I didn’t have all I needed, so quick…a trip to Sam’s Club for batteries.)

The wreaths for the front door have lights run by three huge batteries each. Wrapping the lights around the wreaths without getting them tangled is a job – and a lot of swear words accompany making the home warm and friendly. Dare I pitch the wreaths and buy new pre-lit wreaths? I’ll think about that later …. and will probably use the same swear words next year.

Flowers in the home are typically flowers from our yard, but most of the summer bloomers now are in winter mode. But we do have a thriving lemon tree, so I cut one rose still in pretty good shape and several branches from the lemon tree. I don’t realize how heavy the lemon branches are, and the first large glass vase I use tips over and shatters. (Thank goodness my husband wasn’t home to tell me how brilliant I was.) An “I hope I got it all” clean-up follows, another two vases are retrieved, and sturdy arrangements are hastily made.

hostess looks a bit like her dog
After the guests leave, the Thanksgiving hostess looks a bit like her dog, Sandy — exhausted.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Like many Thanksgiving hosts know, cooking the turkey and all the trimmings might be the easy part.

This year, we had a nice meal thanks to help from my husband (a good cook) and the extras contributed by our guests and a friend who donated pies. The post meal conversation with the girls (while the guys watched football) was my favorite part of Thanksgiving.

My favorite part of the day, however, is actually at night. After the guests leave (around 4:30 p.m.), I’m typically exhausted and settle in for a nap. After the nap, my husband and I sit down for a turkey sandwich eaten in a still reasonably well-organized house.

Judging from past experience, the house will slowly once again become “comfortable”, and I’ll be able to find the papers in my office.

In spite of everything, Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.


4 responses on “Thanksgiving Hosting: More Than a Tasty Turkey

  1. Diane – that was wonderful! What a reminder of the minute details we must deal with! My husband did help with dusting, vacuuming and adding leaves to our table for 16 (which has held up to 20.) Unfortunately, while I was doing all the food preparations mentioned in your article (moving like a chicken with my tail on fire rather like Ramsey’s staff…but just me,) he felt his job was merely to “great guests.” Hmmm. These past few years we’ve eaten out. Weber Grill has a great ($$$) smoked turkey. But, all else aside, Thanksgiving does remind us to appreciate all we have….especially friends and family!

  2. No Thanksgiving here in Mexico . While I’m relaxing in my big chair waiting for the football games to start, I get an email – – ” Sorry it is so last minute , but , we are have a bunch over today for Thanksgiving dinner . Would you like a nice turkey meal ? ” . Oh hell yes !

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