Thursday, January 08, 2009

Taking Thanksgiving on the Road

We are somewhat notorious for making plans for major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas...) at the last minute. Way back in November Amy headed off to Arkansas to visit her mother leaving me to determine how we were going to spend Thanksgiving. My little brother and I had already begun how to figure out how to provide Thanksgiving dinner for my parents and grandmother, without my mother having to clean her house or cook. (My brother lives near my parents, while I'm 160+ miles away.)

My brother lives in a small, second floor apartment which wasn't an option. Transporting my parents and grandmother to Boston also wasn't an option. At some point my brother said he wished we could rent an apartment for a day. That's when it hit me - that's what Residence Inn style hotels are. We'd stayed in a Residence Inn while visiting in New Jersey and it was quite spacious. So I did a search and discovered two relatively close to my parents and a room was reserved.

Amy learned of the plan when she returned from her trip the week before Thanksgiving. Planning began immediately. As much of the food as possible would be made before hand and be taken to heat up when we got there. Amy'd been reading up on cooking turkey, reading recipes is one of her favorite entertainments, and was eager to try brining a turkey. This presented a challenge. The plan was to head west Wednesday evening. The turkey needed to brine for 4-6 hours. The drive takes 3 1/2 hours. So, we decided that we would brine the turkey on the drive. The next challenge was figuring out what container to transport the brining turkey in. We have several large coolers - all of which would hold the turkey and it's brine. Amy was concerned though because any of those would require increasing the quantity of brine and since this was the first try at this method she was reluctant to make that change. The solution - a 5 gallon bucket lined with plastic bags.

The easiest part of the packing was our clothes. It was to be a quick trip so we didn't need much in the way of clothing. The rest of the packing was to accommodate the dozen people we were expecting (my parents, my grandmother, my younger brother, his wife and son, my older brother, his wife, son and daughter and Amy and me). The Residence Inn's provide kitchen equipment but not for that many people. We packed plates, glasses, silverware, kitchen equipment that Amy (who was doing most of the on-site cooking) couldn't live without, food - rolls, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, stuffing, vegetables, pumpkin pie, crackers, two card tables and eight folding chairs, napkins and table cloths.
Just to make things even more interesting Amy came down with the head cold I'd been fighting for weeks the week of Thanksgiving. The crowd ended up slightly smaller than anticipated - my brother and co-conspirator succumbed to the stomach bug that his son brought home from school, my older brother's wife was too exhausted to spend 5+ hours (round-trip) in a car and my oldest nephew needed to stay in Montreal (where it wasn't a holiday) and go to class. (For those keeping track that gave us a crowd of 9.
The crowd
After dinner my nephew, N, who is five and my niece, S, who is 16 and I went down to the lobby to play Sorry. At one point N was frustrated because he wasn't doing so well, S and I were chatting about something (probably her swim season) and he decided we weren't taking the game seriously enough. He announced "stop talking and concentrate on the game". I smile every time I think about it, partly because it shows how much he's matured since July when he got frustrated by a game we were playing and wanted to quit.

A good time was had by all, though I don't know that we'll ever try it again.

(I do know that this post is month's overdue, but I didn't want to let this go undocumented.)

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