Richard was widowed at a young age when his wife lost her
battle with cancer. Before she left this world, though, they
produced two wonderful kids, a son and a daughter, who were fully
grown by the time I came along.
I remember very well that first
Thanksgiving dinner, when the entire family -- and I do mean entire
-- was going to come to our house. Altogether I was cooking for 13,
including in-laws and "out-laws" of the family, the kids and their
respective girlfriends and boyfriends.
For the most part, I wasn't daunted by the task. I'd grown up as
a member of a large family on my mother's side, and oftentimes it
was she and I who rose early in the morning and trekked to grandma's
house to help prepare the family feast.
My means of attack: Make a list, do ahead what could be done
ahead, and when the big day arrives, it'll be smooth sailing.
Then came that anxious moment, the one that most new wives have
when the in-laws are coming, and I blame... oh, I mean, I give
credit to... my dear husband for the whole thing.
It was Wednesday night before Thanksgiving and I was happily
making homemade noodles. For Southerners like us, noodles heaped on
top of mashed potatoes are a mainstay of the meal, so I had made six
eggs into noodles.
When Rich entered the kitchen, he took a look at my pile of
thinly rolled, beautifully cut, perfect noodles and simply said:
"That isn't enough."
I argued that it was six eggs' worth and not the only thing on
He simply repeated, "That isn't enough," and returned to his TV
show in the living room.
I wanted to balk at his advice, but the worry began: What if he
So, I went to the fridge, grabbed six more eggs and doubled the
stack of noodles on the cutting board. I also grabbed my list and
scratched out the deviled eggs that were to be a part of the meal.
Then I balked again. What if the deviled eggs are the one thing
everyone is looking forward to? What if they are all disappointed
because there are none?
I quickly changed out of my flour-coated clothes and made a mad
dash to the grocery store before it closed.
Somewhere between the noodles and the deviled eggs, a seed of
doubt was planted.
"What if someone doesn't like turkey? Better buy a ham," I
But it didn't stop there.
"If they don't like turkey, they won't like the noodles. Without
the noodles, they won't want the taters. Better make macaroni and
cheese. If I make mac and cheese with sweet potatoes, that's an
orange plate. Ham is light; need a dark. Better fix baked beans.
What if they don't like pie? Should I bake a cake? If I bake a cake,
what kind should I bake?"
[to top of second column]
Really... Who are these people I'm trying to feed? What do I
really know about any of them that six eggs' worth of noodles "isn't
By the time I made it home, I had groceries enough to cook a
feast for 13... again. My husband helped me unload the car, and as I
scurried around the kitchen putting things away, what did I realize?
I had forgotten the eggs!
He said not a word, just put on his shoes, gave me a kiss on the
cheek and ran to the store and bought eggs.
When the big day arrived, only about 2 1/2 hours after I'd gone
to sleep, I was much calmer. I had control of the situation and was
confident that there was nothing -- and I do mean nothing -- anyone
could want that I couldn't provide.
As family started to arrive, the house was filled with the aromas
of good food. Everyone was happy and friendly and hungry. When
called to the table, many commented that they were starving, but...
they all took a step back when they saw their Thanksgiving feast.
There was turkey, ham, potatoes, noodles, mac and cheese, green
beans, sweet potatoes, tossed salad (I could have left that one
out), raw veggies and dips, black and green olives, homemade rolls,
baked beans, deviled eggs, coleslaw, butter and margarine, tea,
coffee, soda, fruit punch, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and cherry
As they sat down to eat, I was satisfied, I was happy, and
needless to say, so were they!
I had so many noodles I could put only about a third of them in
the serving dish, but I watched in amazement as the dish passed
didn't make it all the way around the table before needing a refill.
I looked at my husband and he gave me a wink. I can't be mad at
him for being right when he gives me a wink.
At the end of the meal, I was simply amazed by the amount of food
that had been consumed, but I was thankful for it as well.
That first Thanksgiving as an interwoven family, I learned a lot
about my kids, and even my own family, and I was all the more
thankful for the person I had chosen to share my life with and the
kids he'd brought along as so-called baggage. I'd recommend baggage
like that to anyone!
So what about the noodles? Well, perhaps the thing I am most
thankful for is that I found a food I know they will devour no
matter what, and I learned that "six eggs will never be enough."
[By NILA SMITH]