My wife and I are planners, especially in regards to events and holidays. I’m not certain if it’s the years we spent working in the hospitality industry, or just who we are as people, but we do devote a modicum of time to thinking things through. Our best laid plans may not always pan out, of course, but we’ve found the odds for success are better if a blueprint is in place.
Naturally our thoughts turned to Thanksgiving awhile back. The evening hours after the children are tucked in is conducive to a good exchange of ideas. Invariably, while discussing menu options, a fond memory of when we hosted our first holiday surfaces. The year was 2000 and our guests were Bill & Clare with their two young children.
Bill is my buddy from college. We met in the dorms and shared an appreciation for beer. Bill studied aeronautical engineering, while I took classes in hotel and restaurant management. Willy, as I like to call him, is a good man who is perpetually on time. This is a good thing considering he now manages throngs of mechanics who maintain the aircraft fleet for FedEx. It’s no wonder then with all his travels across the nation that he met his charming bride during a flight one day.
Clare is a delight who excels in the art of conversation. I suspect her southern upbringing may have something to do with it. She can spark a conversation or move it along when it lulls, always adding her intellectual perspective where appropriate or posing questions when she finds intrigue in an unfamiliar topic. All in all, she’s smart, funny and genuine—an ideal counterpart to Willy.
As it goes, Mrs. W. and I were fixing to have our friends over for Thanksgiving. We had recently finished renovations on our home and it was primed for entertaining. We had a plan and a menu so game on. Our guests arrived on time and everything was going along swimmingly—until it became clear I had misjudged the timing for the roast turkey to be ready. But when you’re in the company of friends, the long gap between the first course and the entrée seems to be much less of a faux pas by the gracious understanding of the guests. The meal eventually did get back on track and played out to a delicious finish; an ending which by design broke from tradition. No pie!
Our menu included a pumpkin torte from a recipe I spotted in a special holiday issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Having a predisposition for cake I was boldly willing to give it a go. It was, after all, our first round at hosting Thanksgiving. Why not mirror the newness of the experience by trying something…new?
This year we’ll savor a holiday meal at home with our children. I’ve long since nailed the orchestration of timing the turkey. And wouldn’t you know while deciding what to prepare for the table, our thoughts turned to the fond memories of our first feast—blueprint, friends and all.
Recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens