Some 12 years ago, when Snarky Son (SS) was merely Sweet Son, his preschool class made a Thanksgiving “tree.” Each child came home clutching a six-inch green felt leaf and was given the assignment of decorating it with a picture of something for which the child felt grateful. SS didn’t hesitate. His thankfulness was both sincere and well-placed. For God. And Spiderman underpants.
I think – and laugh – about that every November. Make no mistake, there are many blessings in my life and I am thankful beyond words for my family and friends, my health and happiness, my faith and freedom, and my country and the honorable men and women who make it a safe home for me and mine. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for these life-altering blessings, despite the many times our family has attempted the “write down what you’re thankful for” game at Thanksgiving dinner.
Even so, at this time of year, I can’t help but think of the other blessings in my life, including:
• My mother and the scales in her guest bathroom. Mom’s scales are consistently set back about five pounds. What a gift to any guest silly enough to step on before a holiday meal. These scales are practically a signed permission slip to head back to the buffet for more mashed potatoes and gravy. Or just gravy. And maybe some macaroni and cheese. For this, I am grateful.
• Folly River oysters. OMG. Salty. Succulent. Slurp-worthy. Dang. Does anyone know how to clean drool off a keyboard? For that, I would also be grateful.
• Christmas music. For 47 years now, I’ve practically made a career of mangling lyrics. It was 25 years before I realized that, in Dream On, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was not crooning “sing women,” but instead “sing with me." And it turns out that Jimmy Buffett stepped on a poptop in Margaritaville. Not a Poptart. Christmas music, mercifully, inundates our eardrums 24/7 for some 45-60 consecutive days of the year. We begin chanting it before we begin kindergarten. And we never have to learn new songs or lyrics. It’s the same. Every. Single. Year. Perfect for a lyric-impaired-learner (LPL) like me. For this, I am grateful.
• Turkey roasted in a brown paper bag. For details, see “Folly River oysters” above.
• Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But I digress.
• Cell phones. The only reason this might not make my children’s top five list is because I’m constantly marveling at the ways I can use my cell phone and pointing out to the kids that “back in the day” (not when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but perhaps, sabertoothed tigers), we didn’t even have cordless phones. We were tethered to the wall – usually in the most popular room in the house – which made those tearful “I know, but WHY are you breaking up with me?” calls all the more painful. Nowadays, I don’t know how to complete a shopping trip without someone calling me to ask, “Are you still at the store? Well, can you go back and get some whole cloves/limeade/shoe insole inserts?” For technology, I am grateful.
• Food. I know, it sounds as if I’m about to revisit that whole oyster, turkey, doughnut thing, but my point here is different. It’s variety I’m talking about. I still marvel over the fact that there are now some three dozen options in my local Harris Teeter for salad greens. And you no longer have to purchase parsley in dessicated little flakes, fluttering in a jar suitable for a urine sample. Fresh is available year-round. And does anyone else remember the days when there were three types of peas, and all were canned? Green Giant. Le Sueur. And the tragically labeled Generic.
Yep. I’m plenty grateful. And grateful to have so many things to be grateful for. Like this crazy good Bacon Bloody Mary. Not as giggle-worthy as Spiderman underwear, perhaps, but still, I am grateful.
Bacon Bloody Mary
Note that you have to begin this a couple of weeks in advance – but it’s worth it! Would make a great holiday hostess gift, too.
Pepper Bacon Vodka
4 cups good quality vodka
1 teaspoon peppercorns
12 strips of bacon, cooked ‘til crisp and drained
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
Combine all ingredients in a glass pitcher. Cover and keep in a dark, cool place, allowing it to steep for two to four weeks. Strain through cheesecloth (or a coffee filter) before serving. (Discard peppercorns and bacon.)
Bloody Mary Mix
46-ounce bottle V8 juice, chilled
2 cups Pepper Bacon Vodka
Juice of six limes
¼ cup prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon celery seeds
Crisp strips of bacon
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Stir well, and serve over ice, garnishing with bacon, etc.