My brother and sister-in-law live minutes from the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory, Ben and Jerry’s factory, The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, and The Cabot Cheese Factory.
In our home, the anticipation of Thanksgiving can be felt as early as July 5th, when our children begin to ask, “Are we going to Vermont this year?” I should mention here that part of the fun visiting my brother is his house is too small for our family of six (and with my parents, we’re a family of eight).
My brother uses his business contacts to get us a suite at the local Windjammer Hotel. Though the novelty of staying in the hotel every year has sort of worn off, the Windjammer has a pool, a gazillion TV channels (some of them are French), a fabulous restaurant, and warm chocolate chip cookies when we come back at night – as if we could eat anything more after our Thanksgiving feast.
My brother and sister-in-law’s house is a place of magical wonder. My brother is a professional photographer, and he has his own photos lining the hallways. The living room has indoor potted ferns, a pocket door, and comfy places to sit. The kitchen is thoroughly modern, with every attention to detail focused on storage, ease of food preparation, and flexibility of working space. The pots and pans hang from the ceiling on a hooked rack. The vintage breadbox from our grandparents’ house gives it the final panache.
I think last year was the first year I had ever been through the front door. Part of the magic of the house is that we usually park in back and come in through the door to the kitchen. Though their house is not large like some houses in our family (in fact, it is pretty much a two-floor apartment), the first thing you notice when you come in the back door at Thanksgiving is the smell of delicious food cooking.
I don’t think our feet touch the kitchen floor as we float through, wafted along by the odors of baking ham, turkey, and roast beef. The feast meats are juicy and herbed to perfection. I don’t know what my sister-in-law’s secrets are, but she creates amazing culinary masterpieces. Of course our Thanksgiving dinner also has a green salad, potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and rolls.
My brother has a man cave downstairs with a big television, lots of movies, and a computer with a large screen, so there are places for everyone to go depending on their preferences. Some converse in the living room, others watch football or movies in the man cave and others “help out” in the kitchen and keep the cook company.
We will miss our yearly trip to my brother and sister-in-law’s house this year. They are coming here to New York to spend Thanksgiving with us. It will be different because we’re not in Vermont, our son is currently serving a church mission in Canada, and my sisters can’t make it with their families. But family time is precious no matter where, or how, you spend it.
P.S. Here’s my favorite recipe for Cranberry Sauce:
Chunky Apple & Cranberry Sauce
(Dec. 2000, Good Housekeeping)
Prep: 15 minutes plus chilling
Cook: about 20 minutes
Makes: about 5 cups
2 Tbsp. margarine or butter
2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 4 large), peeled, cored, and cut into
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom or allspice
1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries (3 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cup water
1. In nonstick 12-inch skillet (I used a large saucepan), melt margarine over medium heat. Add apples and cardamom, and cook 10 minutes or until apples are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.
2. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in cranberries, sugar, and 1-1/4 cups water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, about 6 to 8 minutes or until most cranberries pop and mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally. Spoon sauce into serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.
*Each 1/4 cup: About 70 calories, 0 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 1 g total fat (0 g saturated), 2 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium.
Jessica Messinger has a BA in English with a minor in French from Brigham Young University. She lives with her husband Todd and their four children in upstate New York. They live in a teeny house with a yellow lab, Bailey, and a black cat, Midnight. Stinky Feet is Jessica’s first children’s book. She has a lot of ideas for more children’s books and hopes to have enough time to write them all.
Calvin’s photo by Shirin Cannon