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I know my family loves me because nearly every time I go home, they have fresh goat cheese.  Sometimes it doesn’t even really fit with the menu (though IMHO goat cheese goes with nearly everything), but they have it because it’s one of the few kinds of cheese I can eat.  Also, it’s one of my favorite foods (combine goat cheese with artichokes, and I’m pretty much in heaven).  It’s a bit expensive, so I don’t buy it very often, but every time I go home, there it is on the table.  And then sometimes they tell me to take the leftovers home with me.  It’s like the total opposite of adding insult to injury (adding compliment to blessing?).  And I know they love me.

Yesterday was a rather long day.  We had, not only Thanksgiving, but also Family Christmas Planning.  When you have so many peoples’ schedules to coordinate, so many details to be worked out, so many Family Traditions to honor, and just about everything seems to be full of Emotional Implications to someone, you have to plan carefully.  So every November sometime we get together and have a family meeting to plan out the holiday season.  Some years this has gone badly, with tears and shouting, and people having to go off later to Reconcile Their Relationship (there is a specific formula for this too – what can I say?  My family is odd).  This year things went surprisingly well.  We started with brunch at noon, followed by two hours of planning in which we set the schedule for the next two months, negotiated an adjustment to our family gift buying and stocking stuffing procedures, and established the Committee for The Family New Year’s Day Party.  And nobody cried (except for The Duchess when she had to take Jacob’s name slip out of the hat before we drew names for the gift exchange), and nobody fought, and we got done at a somewhat reasonable hour.  And then we cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

It was an amazingly good Thanksgiving dinner.  I wish I’d taken pictures of the table – everything was beautiful as well as delicious.  Mom roasted the turkey, since over years of intense practice (turkeys are cheap, especially when you have 11 kids to feed) she’s perfected a method that delivers vast quantities of crispy turkey skin, succulently moist breast meat and just right dark meat.  I made garlic mashed potatoes, the Duchess was in charge of the salad, Rosie made her green beans with garlic and pine nuts, Sae tried something new with a butternut squash gratin that was delicious, but possibly not quite delicious enough to justify the incredible amount of scrubbing it took to get the dishes clean afterwards, and Mariah did her usual glorious job on the pumpkin pies.  It was great.  And the fresh goat cheese?  That was left over from our family brunch, which was four kinds of quiche, really good bread, and fruit salad.  Sae had been going to contribute it to the quiche, but didn’t arrive in time, so we set it out at dinner alongside the butter to spread on the homemade bread I brought.  And it was good.

When I got home, Johnsy and her family were in the living room watching Casablanca.  Her mom and two brothers had driven in from West Virginia to be with her and make their own turkey goodness to feast on.  I sat down just in time for “Oh, I don’t know what’s right any longer.  You have to think for both of us.” and stayed until the “start of a beautiful friendship.”  Man, I love that movie.  Then Ani came home, and I showed her Engagement, the movie we made almost four years ago now.  It was like a time trip, seeing Spain and 14, Belle, MDoS, JJ, so many other friends I don’t see much any more.  Spain is married and teaching at SLU, 14 is now a Jesuit, Belle is married and living in Cincinnati, MDoS is in New Jersey with the Beautiful T, and last I heard JJ was at Notre Dame finally finishing up his Masters.  It was good, but it was a little sad thinking about how much my life has changed since those days.

Today is a quiet day.  I was supposed to meet AnniPotts for breakfast, and completely slept through it.  Since I woke up I’ve been doing some things around the house, including baking bread to take to Mai’s Here Be Turkeys party tonight.  Tomorrow will be a busy day, helping clean Mom’s rugs in the morning and afternoon, and then going off to the Smorgasbord dance in the evening.  And then it will be Sunday, and the weekend will be almost done.  You will note that there is no shopping mentioned anywhere there.  I’m doing my best not to buy anything today, my own small protest at how ridiculously commercialized Christmas has become.  I even was about to buya skein of yarn to knit socks for Boy-O’s Christmas present (although I think it might be tempting fate a little to knit socks for a brother a second year in a row – that didn’t turn out so well last year) but decided to wait until Monday.