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The first Thanksgiving dinner I attempted to cook after my mother died was quite the disaster, as was the second and the third and even the FOURTH. But the fourth was surely the worst. Each of these dinners followed a similar pattern: undercooked potatoes, overcooked turkey, mushy greens and runny pumpkin pie. But it was the fourth dinner where everything really came together and emerged in the most spectacular mess of them all.
On this particular Thanksgiving I decided to aim for more of a group effort. This way, if it all went south at least I wouldn't be held solely responsible. A motley crew of us gathered at my father's condo in South California. My friend Liz was there, a self-professed terrible cook, and my friend Holly, who has always showed a bit more enthusiasm than talent in the kitchen, and her sister Laura who was working as an inexperienced cook in Colorado. My elderly cousin Q, Holly's husband Kevin and possibly a random neighbor were also all in attendance.
I instructed everyone to simply make their favorite dish. Liz arrived with a big dish of sweet potatoes, replete with tiny marshmallows cascading across the top into a sea of sweet foam. Kevin mashed some potatoes in one corner while Laura took over another corner of the kitchen, attempting to blend up a mysterious soup using both the cuisinart AND the blender. My father and Q and the random neighbor all set up shop in a corner, shouting out words of encouragement to the rest of us.
As for me and Holly? Well, after we took care of a batch of soggy green beans, a casserole of macaroni and cheese, some creamed corn swimming in two sticks of butter and a pan of biscuits, we finally turned our attention to the ham and the turkey.