T-minus twelve hours and counting. In less than twelve hours, my kitchen will be filled with whisking, peeling, slicing, rolling, stirring, basting, whipping, patting, chopping, simmering, boiling, baking, testing, turning, and tasting. Fenelon Clan is going to cook.

We’ll be making the lion’s share of our Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow because we’ll be eating much earlier than usual this year and there won’t be enough time to get everything done before we have to eat unless we’re ambitious and get up in the wee hours of the morning, which we’re not so we won’t. Get up in the wee hours of the morning, that is.

Our tradition is to divide and conquer the meal preparation (we divide and conquer the meal eating later). A couple of weeks before Turkey Day, we make a list of all our favorite dishes. Then we pass the list around and each Clan member chooses what he or she wants to make. Matt’s got the corner on the mashed potatoes, Moni’s got a monopoly on desserts (she out-bakes me by a mile and a half), John-John’s a jellomaniac, Luke does an amazing carrot pudding, and Mark’s actually pulling into second place in the pie race. Salad and rolls get done by any hands that are free at the moment. I usually do the yams, ‘cuz I yam what I yam, yuck yuck. But always I do the turkey. I guess they give me that job because the Thanksgiving Poultrygeist and I are kindred spirits – we’re both stuffed turkeys. Ba-dum-dum.

The dinner always turns out spectacular, but even better is the time spent preparing it together. There’s something about having everybody milling about the kitchen at once, getting in each other’s way, stepping on one another’s feet, slopping onto someone else’s masterpiece and snitching when the other isn’t looking (probably because he or she is snitching from the next person), that makes a Clan Thanksgiving so much more than having a great big feast. It’s the absolute joy in being, laughing, and working together that makes Thanksgiving a thanks giving.

It makes me genuinely sorry for folks who don’t have a clan with whom to give thanks. My heart truly aches for them. Many years ago, I made the resolution to stop every so often during our Clan Thanksgiving to utter a quick prayer for those who are alone mentally, emotionally, or physically. It’s depressing to be separated from loved ones during the holidays, but one can feel completely alone caught in a web full of people in disharmony.

There must be an awful lot of folks out there who’ll need my prayers this year. I was so sad when I first found out that we had to move our dining hour way up to accommodate Moni’s work schedule, but now I think I understand. Instead of the usual one day in which to pray for the lost and lonely, I’ll have two. What a way to give thanks.

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