Things I know
A spontaneous list that may still be teaching me something
Last Thursday we ate Thanksgiving dinner at the deli.
From 8 a.m. till noon I had the market side of the Chalet Deli + Market open for business, while I roasted our turkeys and boiled our potatoes in the deli’s kitchen. It was busy, and I really liked being open for folks in our community to pick up one more pint of heavy cream, two more cans of cranberry sauce, or a Sweater Weather Mocha1 to get them through their drive to Thanksgiving dinner at a relative’s.
I love being able to meet someone’s needs.
It was busy and I was alone most of the morning, which is a great excuse for roasting two dry turkeys. I estimated 3 hours for the turkey in the oven and 2.5 hours for the one in the roaster, but I lost track of time and didn’t really make note of when I put the turkeys in; it was later than I had hoped; customers kept coming in, which I loved but which threw off my preparations; the oven at the deli is wonky; I forgot that the roaster always cooks a turkey faster than I expect. My life hack is to always have an excuse for failures, and my life goal is to stop excusing the meal before we’ve even tasted it, the essay before you’ve read it, and the gifts before they’re opened.
No one expects me to be perfect, except me.
The kids started showing up to move tables, wash dishes, and prepare their own offerings for the dinner around 11 a.m. I stopped my work to take pictures of all of them in the kitchen, making them bob and weave around each other’s heads so I could get everyone’s face in the shot. I wish I could show you the pictures, but my kids are adults now and I feel like I would need permission from each of them, which is a lot of work. But picture them smiling, and willing to help, and taste-testing everything.
My father-in-law, who lives right next door to the deli, brought over his dough to roll and rise and bake in the kitchen where he’s spent nearly 40 years of his life. When they moved to the valley to take over the restaurant, my husband was in highschool. He thought they’d moved to the Oregon coast, which is another two hours west of us, because the fog was so thick and the winter so long here. He thought he’d moved back in time 20 years, all these country folks being so backward. He thought he would move away someday.
Forty years later, we hosted my father-in-law’s 80th birthday party in the empty restaurant while it was mid-remodel. A few months after that, we opened the deli and market and my husband was doing what he swore he’d never do again, once he was no longer a teenager—washing dishes in a restaurant kitchen and working the grill in the mornings.
Life goes in circles.
Never say never.
Cliches are cliches because they’re true.
For several years after my father-in-law “retired”, my husband’s younger brother ran the restaurant. At Thanksgiving he would close for business and we would all join him to cook and serve a turkey dinner to folks in the community who had nowhere to go for the holiday, or who couldn’t afford or just didn’t want to cook a big meal. He would take donations for the local food pantry in exchange for a perfect plate of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and my father-in-law’s buttery rolls. My mother-in-law made pumpkin pies for dessert and we would all wait tables and wash dishes. Some people would come in and order three dinners to go. Some would bring in their families, and many came alone. In the afternoon, we would sit down to our own dinner.
I have pictures of all of us in that kitchen on Thanksgivings past—back in the restaurant days before Tim and I ever dreamed of the Chalet Deli + Market—carrying stacks of plates and all wearing our aprons. Those are good memories and I wish I could share those pictures, too. The kids liked it, but we also all liked the years when it was just our family for Thanksgiving, cooking and eating and being home or at the grandparents’ together.
I like being with my family, wherever we are.
We decided to have our dinner at the deli this year because of the extra space. Our home is big enough, but the living spaces are small and seating everyone comfortably is getting tricky. Our family is growing in number and age, and Tim’s mom just had foot surgery, making tight spaces and stairs a little scary.
It was kind of hectic, and the turkeys were a little dry, as I mentioned. We closed the market at noon but people kept coming by, thinking we were open, and that made it hard to relax. But having a big kitchen means more people can help out, and when it was time to clean up there were four fine men at the three compartment, commercial sink. Everyone was able to pitch in, before and after the meal, and that probably wouldn't have happened if we’d been at home.
We had centerpieces made by a friend who had celebrated with her family the day before, and was working at the hospital on Thanksgiving, helping deliver babies. It was beautiful and no one complained about the turkey.
I have lots of help.
Tim initiated the giving of thanks during our meal, each person sharing one thing. By the time it was my turn, many of the best things had already been named: babies on the way, kids who are happy with their jobs, help through transitions, blessed marriages, evident goodnesses from Jesus. There was one blessing particular to me, for which I know my family is also thankful for, on my behalf: I am so thankful for a great team at the Chalet Deli + Market, who have taken on the burden and blessing of this business with us.
It’s been A Year. There were times the deli consumed all my waking hours and some of my sleeping ones, and there were days when business was so slow it was barely worth opening our doors. But last week when all the biggest blessings had already been named, the next thing on my mind was how thankful I am for the people who are making this deli and market a blessing to our community. We really have a great crew.
Things are hard and then easy, hard and then easy, on repeat.
We never wanted to own a restaurant and we’ve tried hard to make the deli something different, but something that still meets the needs of the community. This is our second Thanksgiving since opening, and we have not carried on my brother-in-law’s tradition. We might, someday, but I’ll have to get a little more confident in my turkey abilities and figure out the ovens.
Reading through this spontaneous list of things I claim to know makes me think it could happen.
This post came from a promptshared for November 25. It’s no longer even November, but another thing I know is that there aren’t many hard and fast rules for writing. Do what you want ; )