Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Little Slice of Heaven

It's the day before Thanksgiving and everyone in my immediate family can tell you exactly what I did today. Jordan is in Texas with Georgia's family, Daniel is in Northern California with Erin's family, Andrew worked and Isaac was kind of in and out before he drove to visit a college friend but every single one of my boys, if queried, could tell you what their mom was doing today.
If its the day before Thanksgiving, they know that I spent the entire day baking pies.
It's become a nearly 30 year tradition - although my love for baking pies goes back much further than that - but providing all the pies for the Monroe Thanksgiving dinner has become a tradition that is apparently set in stone.
I stay in my slippers, rarely put on make-up and cover my jeans and sweatshirt with an apron that will be completely covered in flour, custardy goop, cinnamon and nutmeg and a multitude of other spills by day's end. It is not pretty.
I make sure I have all my ingredients, my pastry sheet, my rolling pin, a hot cup of tea and THEN to complete my pre-baking prep, I pop in the first movie of the day. This is essential to the success of pie day. It is the first day I allow myself to watch my Christmas Themed movies and I have complete control over the TV the entire day. It is part of the recipe for me, as important as the Granny Smith apples or the vanilla extract. Yes, I know it's Thanksgiving and I am talking about Christmas movies but who said a time-honored tradition has to necessarily make any sense? Its a tradition, just go with it.
Today, as I started with pie #1 (Pecan) I watched Little Women. Though not "technically" a Christmas movie, it does begin with Christmas and has another wonderful Christmas scene when Beth is surprised by the new piano given to her by Laurie's Grandfather. I love that movie and I cry every time. Every single time. I know that Beth is going to die and I still cry when their Housekeeper, Hannah, is strewing rose petals on Beth's dolls. I had Pie #2 (Pumpkin) in the oven by the time Little Women ended and I had popped in The Family Stone. This is such a great movie with a wonderful ensemble cast: Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes, just to name a few. Its a movie that makes me laugh out loud and cry. While the family's make-up is very different than my own, there is still something so funny and familiar and awkward about families trying to stretch themselves to include the new loves of their adult children: to make them feel welcomed and an instant part of the fabric of a family that has been long together.
Next came Pie # 3 (Apple). I was peeling apples as I watched Sleepless in Seattle. Is there a better romantic comedy? The early 90's hairdos are classic, Rosie O'donnell is still an amusing "side kick" and Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are at their best. Tom and Meg were just getting on the elevator on the Empire State Building when I finished the pie crusts for the custard pies.
Today's finale film was one of my all-time favorites: White Christmas with Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Bing Crosby. I can sing every song and say nearly all the dialogue but I still love it. I made pie #4 (Chocolate Cream), pie #5 (Banana Cream) and pie #6 (Coconut Cream) and had them all in the refrigerator by the time those four were singing the signature song at the end of the movie (decked out in their red velvet costumes, trimmed in white fur).
So now "Tomorrow" is here. It's 1:15 AM on Thanksgiving morning and the pies are ready for transport to the Monroe family gathering. It will be great to see all the family but, (and I feel kind of sheepish admitting all of this, really because everyone thinks I work so hard), to be honest, Thanksgiving Day has just become the excuse to spend the entire day before baking and watching movies. Its a labor of love I hope I never have to relinquish. Now, where is my copy of Elf????