|The only picture that got taken all day.|
But we've been here for over a year (and had a turkey in the freezer for almost as long) so we had to take our turn to host. And, as Brandon pointed out, we'll probably never get invited over again because who wants to host a family of seven for Thanksgiving? That's a whole lot of extra food to make.
A new LDS family moved to Dushanbe a few weeks ago, so we had all six of them on Thursday. Half of the other family in our group had gone home early for Christmas, so we had the lonely stragglers for dinner too. So it was like church, but on a Thursday and without all of the singing.
I've learned from the years of cooking large meals and started cooking on Wednesday. The children had school, so I turned on an audiobook and spent the whole day making four dozen rolls, stuffing, pie crust, persimmon cake, and brined the turkey. After finishing school, the girls fed their younger siblings, put them down for naps, and played while I cooked and cooked and cooked. Cooking is a lot easier when all you have to do is cook.
Thursday Brandon and I cooked two pumpkin pies, made trifle from the persimmon cake, roasted our twenty-two pound turkey, baked the stuffing and rolls, made gravy, and mashed four kilos of potatoes. The children happily played all morning, set the table, and made place cards for everyone. When everyone gathered we had two turkeys, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, butternut squash puree, cranberry sauce, rolls, gravy, persimmon trifle, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie.
By the end, everyone was full enough to roll out the door without enough leftovers to provide at least one more meal. The children had a great time playing together, turning the third floor into an unholy mess that took most of the next morning to clean up. And, as happens with every Thanksgiving meal that I cook, I made a very firm resolution to keep Christmas dinner simple.
Of all the holidays to spend overseas, Thanksgiving is the hardest for me. My childhood Thanksgivings were spent with close family, a whole weekend with my favorite cousins riding bikes, exploring the nearby bay, and making fantastic creations. With thirteen children in the house, the weekend was noisy, chaotic, and wonderful. I will never forget those Thanksgivings.
I'm grateful to have friends here in Dushanbe to help recreate part of those treasured Thanksgivings. I'm grateful for Butterball turkeys flown all of the way to central Asia and cans of cranberry sauce shipped in consumables shipments, and the randomly discovered sweet potatoes that the CLO sold to us. I'm grateful for my family, their safety and health. I'm grateful for our happiness and being able to share it with others.