The first Thanksgiving I was expected to be a contributor to the family feast was four months after getting married.
It was also my first year teaching, so we indulged in too much takeout and made one too many embarrassingly inedible kitchen disasters. I was (still am?) quite clumsy in the kitchen. I’m sure there’s much to unpack and shame sits on the edges waiting to fill me, but yes, the kitchen is not my natural habitat. “Even” as a woman, as a Latina, as a wife and mom, I simply cannot find a rhythm. (More importantly, I think I don’t care to.)
Anyway, it was a thrill, showing up with my own homecooked meal and assigned a spot further away from the kid’s end of the table. I will never forget the boisterous laughter that ensued as Kyle and I entered with aluminum foil pans…and had to make two more trips for the rest of the pans. It is a longstanding joke in my family that the Deckers can feed a whole neighborhood with creamed corn. I mean, how was I supposed to know that a guest list of 40 didn’t warrant a few crockpot refills?
Now, seven years later, a toddler and infant in tow, wobbling through a pandemic in which we’ve parented mostly in isolation, I was cautiously excited about finally gathering with the usual 40ish family members. What to contribute though…. Small water bottles? Seems like a cop out. Store purchased pie? Feels like cheating.
Yep – you guessed it! I opted for creamed corn. This time, though, I was much better prepared. In addition, mom brought her mashed potato ingredients Wednesday night, so she could sleep over and be cozy with us to watch the Macy’s Day Parade. We’d play with the kids, cook (ok, watch the crockpot), get dressed, and head over to Tia’s house to feast!
And then on Wednesday evening, we received the call – my little cousin tested positive for COVID! 😦 She’d come over to hang out with my boys two days prior, and some family members had gathered for dinner a previous night as well.
It was too risky – we all decided to remain quarantined in our homes and wait for covid test results to return (everybody tested negative; my little cousin is fine now!).
While I was eager for a “normal” tradition, mom made an early Thanksgiving morning run to the grocery store for ham; we made a food drop-off and picked up some casseroles from other family members, so we still had a conglomeration of food. It may not have been the usual hoopla, but it was very 2021. Still wonderful, still delicious.
And guess what we had plenty of, too? Creamed corn!