I’ll start with the unpleasantries. I ate sardines today. They were in a can, just like sardines tend to be served (although the can did not have that little key that rolls back the top for opening like they feature in the old cartoons). They were skinless and boneless which made it a little easier because my vision was to actually be swallowing down whole fish, heads, tails and all. They were preserved in water and they smelled fishy. I brought them to Thanksgiving dinner because I’m a jerk and I also made the stakes of our morning football game be that the losers would have to eat a can of sardines. We lost, so I paid up. In fairness, they weren’t all that bad. They tasted like chunk tuna from a can. I should mention that I do not like tuna. But it wasn’t horrible and for all those sardine lovers out there, I could see the appeal. They are loaded with good omega 3 oils, so that was a plus too. They do leave your mouth kind of fragrant, like what you expect the breath of a tuna would smell like. But sardines were eaten to mark the holiday and to mark the defeat as well.
Other than that, we had a pretty great day. It started early and Lola and I were up at at ’em today. We had a crew coming over to play some football as is becoming our Thanksgiving tradition. Everyone was coming at 9:30, so we were cleaning and cooking at 7 am. Lola finished up her banana cream pie. I made some food for the football game which essentially was just a giant pot of hot chocolate (which we served to the adults with some Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka and Coffee Liqueur) and some breakfast burritos which were made with eggs, bacon, hash browns and cheese and then I grilled them so they had a nice crispy outer texture. They actually came out really good, if I do say so myself. When everyone showed up, we were ready to go. We made Jeff and Molly captains and they picked the teams. It was a five on five game (with one substitute) of flag football. The field was long but narrow (part of the mystique of our friendly confines) but that kept all the action together and made it a little more exciting. Jeff’s team was Jeff, his son Sam, Cherie, field legend Dave Waluk, Dave’s nephew Ryan and the hometown hero Lola. Molly’s team was Molly, Pete, Jeanie P, Pete’s nephew Johnny and yours truly.
The day started out hopeful enough with a quick touchdown for each time: Jeff’s team on a bomb to Dave and Molly’s team on a full field scramble by Johnny. But then Sam scored a safety for his team by chasing down our QB Pete and that seemed to change the momentum. For the rest of the game, we were playing catchup while they were playing “let’s score a bunch of touchdowns.” There were highlights throughout the day: Jeff’s Belichick inspired playbook, Molly’s catch right in the face of her Aunt Lola, John’s scrambling, Lola’s goal line catch in the midst of a Paolo crunch. But the MVP of the day was unquestionably Sam who seemed to be just toying with us. He scored a bunch of touchdowns, had the best kickoffs, pulled off the most flag tackles and kept their team going. In the end, in was a 25 point blowout.
The win for Dave Waluk also kept him undefeated in the yard (two Wiffleball wins and two football wins), so Dave will now be incorporated into Monument Park as a champion. We are planning a Cricket tournament in February just to test his skills and see if we can break his winning streak. He’s always up for a challenge. As for my team, we could still hold our heads high even though our prize was sitting in a can on the kitchen counter just waiting for us.
The game ended at precisely 11:05 which gave us enough time to clean up and to throw some stuff in the oven for Jeff and Becky’s house where we were celebrating Thanksgiving. We were making the sweet potatoes and corn casserole and they both needed to cook before heading over. We also threw in some of Becky’s buffalo chicken dip which she asked us to cook because her oven was full. Our final contribution was to make some Stuffed Arancini which needed to be fried, so while Lola was showering, I was rolling rice balls and frying them up. They actually came out pretty good. Here’s the recipe. After I showered, we were off to the Breslins at about 1:30.
As always, the Breslin house was super cozy for the holidays. Becky had put out a huge appetizer spread with an incredible cheese platter at the center (as she has been known to do). Tara and Ben were there too and enjoying the various nibbles (including Tara’s famous Cranberry Brie Pastry). Gravy was cooking, ovens were cranking and the house was filled with a cacophony of Thanksgiving aromas. Soon we were joined by Katie and family (including Shy Ronnie home from Georgia) and then the Waluks (Dave, Jeanie and Mae too). The house was abuzz with excitement. There’s nothing quite like that feeling of a house bursting with laughter and conversation, puppies being chased, kid’s cackling, glasses clinking and family being family. This was Thanksgiving. We all feasted on appetizers, recapped our day and shared some love with each other. Then I cracked open the sardines.
Molly and Jeanie wanted nothing to do with them, and I don’t blame them. However Pete was game and he even said that he used to eat sardines as a kid. And even though he didn’t have to, Dave joined the sardine party too. Together, we ate a can of sardines in the midst of this glorious feast. Most everyone got grossed out by it, especially when the fish smell on our breath was hitting them in the face. But a holiday is a holiday, a loss is a loss and a sardine is a sardine.
When dinner was served, we were treated to all the fixings. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, peas, salad, corn, yams, gravy. It was a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat. In a bit of holiday drama, Cherie’s Brussel Sprouts Casserole decided to shatter right as dinner was being served (glass everywhere), but the cleanup crew was swift in their action and the mess was cleaned up in no time. We were just deprived of this beautiful casserole (and Cherie knows a good casserole). That was the only disappointment. Everything else was as good as you could possibly want it. We toasted our good fortunes and enjoyed it all.
After some post-dinner cleanup which was truly impressive in both speed and efficiency (Molly deserves a little holiday bonus in her allowance this week), we moved on to desserts. Cookies including chocolate chips from Katie, oatmeal raisin from Tara and almond cookies by Becky), pies, fudge, and Lola’s Banana Cream Pie (which is always special because it’s her Mom’s recipe). It was just what we needed to finish the meal and appease our sweet tooth. Our Mike and Tina showed up to to join the celebration along with Mike’s mom. It was a party! We were then treated to some espresso martinis at the very capable hands of bartender and QB1 Jeff Breslin which were the perfect ending to a day of feasting. As our glasses emptied the night started to wind down. Kids were ready to go to bed. Belt buckles were loosened. Eyes were shutting. We were sent home with a true feeling of thanksgiving in our heart (and also a bag full of leftovers – score!).
Our utmost thanks to Becky and Jeff for their hospitality and for giving us a welcoming celebration. What a great day. When we got home around 8:30, Lola and I went right to bed. We had a full day of celebration and we were both worn out. But that’s when I’m most grateful – to have Lola by my side. We talked about some of our laughs that we had throughout the day. We watched the Thanksgiving episode of This Is Us. We drifted off to sleep in each others arms both grateful for all our blessings. So I hope you had the same feelings about Thanksgiving too and enjoyed your celebration. I hope your hearts were filled with gratitude and love and your bellies were full of wonderful treats (and no sardines). Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Next Up: National Parfait Day