Gobble, Gobble!

1 Dec

I don’t know about y’all, but we had such a fun Thanksgiving Day filled with many of things we love the most- family, friends, fellowship…and food! heehee. Definitely a different holiday than any we’ve had in the past- afterall, we’re far away from home, overseas, living in a country that doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving…So we hosted (split the cooking!) and shared the day with our visiting family and several of our new friends, fellow Americans going through the same things as we are. And once it was all said and done, it really did come together beautifully and we realized, yet again, just how many blessings we have.

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But before we get into the beautiful part, let’s back up and get to the ‘all said and done…’ Up until about 30 minutes before guests started arriving, I would’ve said that when it rains it pours! Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, went smoothly or according to plan. Heck, it was a comedy of errors starting even days before. For starters, you can see our fridge at the far end of the counter, next to the window, in the picture above- yes, it looks like cabinets. And yes, those are indeed the smallest fridge and freezer known to man. That’s the freezer on the bottom, with three small drawers inside that are barely deep enough for a tub of ice cream. Needless to say, we had to wait to the last possible minute to even pick the turkey- after every other American (on base residents have normal US fridges) had already picked theirs. Then it lived in a cooler on our patio (near freezing temps outside, afterall!) until Wednesday, when we moved it inside to prep- yes, still in the cooler.

Now, also in the picture above, you can see our oven- again, the tiniest oven known to man. With lots of careful planning, over a couple days we should be able to get everything baked. Or so we thought. We should’ve known on Wednesday that something was up with the oven when it took our pies more than double their normal cooking times, but we chalked it up to user error. Ah, hindsight. Well, the turkey went in bright and early Thursday morning (my first time roasting a turkey- we are fried turkey people up in here!) and we waited until about 11a to start peaking under the foil and basting. About that…STILL FROZEN. Say what? Yep, even the onions and celery and garlic we’d stuffed in that beautiful bird were still cold and hard as rocks! So here we are, our well-thought-out baking schedule having the turkey come out in just a few hours so the rest of the items can start going in, and the damn bird still has albino bumpy skin! So we did the only thing we could do- cranked the oven to 500*F and let ‘er rip! In the meantime, we preheated the grill outside to the same temp and when we couldn’t wait any longer to bake the other stuff, we transferred the turkey- roasting pan and all!- to the grates! I’ve never been so thankful to be splitting the cooking with friends in that the rest of our time was spent with someone glued to the oven monitoring the relationships between extreme high temperatures and doneness! It would’ve taken us three days to cook everything ourselves! Ha!

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I’m happy to report that the turkey came through like a champ- and on schedule!- in spite of it all! Look at that beautifully browned skin and juicy white meat! Have you ever had grilled turkey? It’s delicious 😉

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I wish I could say that our comedy of errors stopped there…*Sigh* So earlier that morning, we got the cranberry sauce- real berries and a can of the good stuff- ready to go on a crystal platter. It was too early to just leave it out, so my mom put it on the top shelf in the fridge- the only place there might even be a spare 2 inches. Well, about 45 minutes before guests were to arrive, I went to get something out of the fridge. You see where this is going, don’t you? GOOD LAWD. On top of my head came the platter- it must have gotten caught on the shelf of the door (?!)- and ALL of that red sugar cranberry sauce. All over my freshly washed and rolled hair, all over my orange tunic I’d been saving for the day, all over the inside of the fridge, all over the kitchen floor, all over the (white) kitchen cabinets as it bounced and splattered. GOOD LAWD. Have you ever dealt with cranberry sauce? Like really dealt with it- like not as just a forkful with your turkey? I assure you than even Karo syrup isn’t as sticky. Or as staining. I won’t bore you with the rest, but we were able to get everything squared away before anyone even knew the mess we’d made. Dad ventured down to the grocery store (yay for Germany being open on our Thanksgiving!) and came back with three different kinds of cranberry ‘sauce’- all delicious! And I’m still so mad that I couldn’t stop my ranting long enough in those first few moments to document the event for posterity. You’ll just have to trust me- you never want cranberries anywhere but on a plate or in your mouth!

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Needless to say, the rest of the day was terrific. For starters, my parents and my grandmother were here, which really helped it feel like home. We are loving their presence here at home. Second, we shared the day with families who have truly become good friends- Matt, Emma and their two daughters, Emmie and Ellie. Our neighbors, Collins, Abigail and their daughter, Amalie. Ashley and her daughter, Aubrey. Laughter and thankfulness filled these walls for the afternoon and into the evening.

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I’m pretty sure Neve and her 5 girlfriends had the best time of all. Not sure how much actually got in their bellies, but I sure know their time upstairs unsupervised with toys was epic. And that I’m not ready for sleepovers anytime soon. HAHAHA!

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Three of the five, stopping in for some pie. And yes, they’re in jammies that they found in Neve’s drawers!

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Clean-up Crew! Neve even let her borrow a headband from her dress up closet ❤

And I almost forgot! Look who arrived that night just before bed? Meet our new Elf, Mr. Pricklepants Clark! (Don’t ask about the name- ha!) He arrives every morning somewhere in the house doing some sort of shenanigans, then flies back to Santa each night to report on how the day went. Neve thinks he’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. Maybe I’ll do a whole Elf post once heads back to the North Pole for the season…

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Did you know that Germans don’t put up Christmas trees before the first day of Advent? Yep, who knew. We Thomases like to put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. Mom and I were just joking about this last night, actually. They don’t put up their tree until two weeks before Christmas- been that way since I was a kid. And it drove me crazy! Why go to all the work for just two measly weeks?! So ever since I’ve been on my own, I decorate the day after Thanksgiving, which is the absolute earliest (that I deem) it’s not too early so as to overshadow Turkey Day. A funny side note: John’s and my first married holidays, I will never forget him walking in the kitchen as I was making the grocery list for Thanksgiving later in the week and asking sheepishly, ‘Do you mind terribly if we do the tree on Friday? I just hate to wait.’ *Be still my heart <3*

Needless to say, not a Weihnachsbaum (Christmas tree) was to be found in this city last week. Not. A. One. So we decided to spend Black Friday (yep, they actually have it here, though on a much less crazy person scale) exploring the Stuttgart Christmas Markets, just two blocks from our front door. Have I mentioned that we love living downtown?!

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Europe is known for its Christmas markets and Stuttgart’s is consistently ranked in the top ten. It’s one of the oldest and the largest, as well as one of the prettiest given its location nestled against the Old Palace. With more than 280 ‘booths,’ its festive illuminations, the wonderful scents of cinnamon and vanilla- and Gluwein (mulled wine)!, the wooden chalets, richly adorned with angels, conifer branches and Christmas ornaments, not to mention the “Wintertraum” winter wonderland on Palace Square, create a nostalgic Christmas ambience which enthralls millions of visitors each year. The vendors sell everything from handcrafted ornaments, candles and toys to light displays and handbags. And any food your heart desires- candies, sausages, crepes, chocolates, roasted chestnuts…And did I mention the gluwein? 😉

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Warming up with some gluwein…

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Well, since we couldn’t put up our tree, I guess this was a close second! Ha! I think this is going to be a terrific Christmas season- nobody loves the holidays more than this girl! And maybe my sweet Neve 😉 We just got home yesterday from a quick overnight to Strasbourg, France, so be sure to stop back by later this week to check out all of the festivities going on there. I’ll give you a hint- it’s CRAZY!

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One Response to “Gobble, Gobble!”

  1. Eleanor December 1, 2015 at 1:52 PM #

    Just love this Blog! I could visualize each and every moment with one problem after another. Your day turned out wonderful and I knew it would because you were raised by caring and loving parents, as well as having a super husband! The friends you have met there are the lucky ones. Now they know about a Knox-Thomas Thanksgiving! Love to all.

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