I'll never forget the Thanksgiving that I woke up and realized my left eye was swollen to the size of a ping pong ball and people from church were coming over for the meal.
This year, my farmer and I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. We felt like grown-ups.
And none of our eyeballs were swollen.
I'd consider that a success.
As a child, I spent a fair amount of Thanksgivings watching my mom whip up delicious meals in her red kitchen or staying out of my grandma's way while she made dish after dish after dish. It was like the food never stopped coming when it came to either one of them.
One of my grandma's staples, and a favorite of mine because we never had it at home, was creamed corn. I was convinced no one could make it like my grandma could.
Until one Thanksgiving I saw her pouring creamed corn out of a can.
OUT OF A CAN. My world was upended.
I had no idea such deliciousness could just be gotten at the grocery store. It changed everything.
So what we've learned thus far is this . . . normal-sized eyes and creamed corn: It doesn't take much to keep me happy.
Beforehand we had wine and a charcuterie board with salami and Vermont cheddar and olives and goat cheese.
We also nibbled on a new tradition: the Thanksgiving pumpkin cheeseball.
And by "tradition," I mean this is the second year I've made it. Does that make it an annual cheeseball now?
And really, isn't the goal of any appetizer just to hold your guests over long enough so that you can finish the rest of the meal?
Or try to salvage the turkey if you wrecked it?
Thankfully, these appetizers were just for fun. Once we prayed, we started passing the good stuff.
We started with a spinach and pear and pomegranate salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, and creamed corn.
Not the can kind.
The kind that involved three sticks of butter and two cream cheeses.
My farmer did a bang-up job of cooking an Alton Brown-approved turkey, and our dogs though the neck and the carcass were the best Thanksgiving feast they'd ever had.
So everyone came away a winner on that front.
We also had butternut squash and cranberries with honey and cinnamon and feta . . . and some sweet potatoes from our garden thrown in for good measure.
It was like farm to table . . . except we were still on the farm so . . . farm to farm?
Did I mention the turkey was super moist? Alton Brown's theory is to go high heat--as in, 500--for a short time to basically sear the skin and hold all the juice in. And it worked.
We had a cranberry-walnut-apple salad, green beans wrapped in bacon, stuffing, rolls and pumpkin cornbread, deviled eggs, a heart attack.
Whoops. How'd that last one sneak in there?
And maybe don't ask me if I got juice from the cranberries and apples all over the front of my cupboards--the night before Thanksgiving--while I was grinding the two in my KitchenAid.
Because I totally didn't. Not at all.
I didn't even contemplate sitting down on the floor and crying. Not even for a second.
I'm also a really bad liar.
We moved past the cranberry and apple juice incident by eating delicious desserts, because when you've eaten your allowable caloric intake by the time you get through the mashed potatoes and pumpkin cornbread, why not go for the gold?
We had a hot cocoa bar, even though we were basically all so stuffed at that point that the thought of more decadent calories made us want to . . . well . . . let's just say we were full.
We also gorged ourselves on slices of pecan and pumpkin pie, chewy brownies with hunks of dark chocolate, and a salted caramel pumpkin cheesecake, which the recipe swore wouldn't develop a crack if I left the oven door closed for an hour and a half after baking.
But better than all of that, we gave thanks for one another, learned more about our family traditions, and even managed to talk theology and the election . . . and no one slung mashed potatoes or flipped the table or tossed a glass of wine . . . or went home with a bugged out eyeball.
Sometimes, even on Thanksgiving, it's the little things.