We had the folks (LeeAnn's and mine) over and down for Thanksgiving this year, and I have to say that we're getting much better at this entertaining thing.
Our great advance this year? We set the table the night before. Simple, I know, but you'd be surprised at how bottlenecked we've been in years past; the path from kitchen to dining room is the most narrow in our house and, inevitably, right as the meal-preparation is reaching its crescendo, someone realizes that the table still hasn't been set. Much mayhem ensues. But not this year! So that was a win.
The other way that I made this holiday more enjoyable for myself was cutting back on the number of dishes I attempted. Every year, my father-in-law wins one or more turkeys at a work-raffle. (I think he's rigged the competition somehow.) So we can usually count on him and Diane to bring the bird (ready-to-roll in this awesome portable broiler that they have.) And a ton of food besides. Then my Mom kicks in a couple of of her signature dishes and -- before you know it -- meal's done!
In years past, I kidded myself into thinking that I was needed in the kitchen, and tried to add in some supplemental stuff to round out the meal. And we'd always end up with way too much food. (And usually my additions are goofy 'experiments' that, while sampled by all, are not really what you'd call essential holiday fare: Mediterannean Stew, one year, for instance.) This year, I made noodles, rolls, and the mashed potatos. And I poured some cranberry relish out into a bowl for serving.
In fact, my noodles were a disaster. The low-point of the day for everyone involved. And you know what? Noone cared. We still had plenty of stuff to eat -- hell it even gave us all a good laugh. Diane called them 'German Noodles' and claimed that they were supposed to taste that way. Problem solved.
It was a really nice day. I like spending time with my parents and my inlaws. Isn't that something to be Thankful for?