Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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 Home for the Holidays

Six eggs will never be enough

By Nila Smith

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[November 21, 2012]  Some may know that when I married, I was not a spring chicken, but in my 30s it was a first marriage for me. And, I was not my husband's first wife, though I often tell people I am his last.

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 the menu.

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 was right?

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 concluded.

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?"

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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 enough."

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 cheesecake.

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."


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