Thanksgiving dinner is stressful for a number of reasons. There's traveling home from college, seeing relatives with averse political views, and, of course, cooking all the food. It's hard enough to coordinate with five or six extra family members for Thanksgiving dinner, let alone 40.
My mom, who is an amazing cook and an ever better person, has hosted Thanksgiving for around ten years for her side of the family. Coming from a big family is something I've always taken for granted — only upon entering college did I realize that, to most people, 43 people is a lot.
Here's what my mom has to say about hosting year after year.
1. How did you start hosting?
Amy Murphy: Around 10 years ago, when we finally moved out of an apartment and into our own house, we were really excited to host. My mom, who hosted every year before that, was starting to let it go and I decided to go for it.
The first year was horrible because it was our first. The turkey was dry (tips on how to avoid that here) and the potatoes were terrible, but dessert was good. Every year after that got easier, because I knew what to cook and what not to cook.
2. What are some of your favorite parts?
AM: I love having people over and cooking, so Thanksgiving dinner is a good combination. I also love a full house, all of the laughter and happiness. Oh, and I love the excitement of stockpiling all the food beforehand, and the way you can smell everything cooking from the top of the stairs.
3. How do you prepare for so many people?
AM: You have to be organized — there's lots of list-making involved. It's also a lot of teamwork, there's a whole bunch of setup and behind-the-scenes things that don't get credited much but are still really important. Stockpiling, of course, and people bring things.
Everyone has to pitch in to make everything run smoothly, and at this point it's like, "What's the worst that can happen?" I used to be a lot more stressed out about it, but I know now that it will all be okay.
4. What's a ballpark estimation of the amount of food made?
AM: We used to have more, but because everyone brings food now I have to make a lot less. We "only" have 3-4 turkeys, 80 crescent rolls, 12 pies, 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, 15 pounds of stuffing, 6-8 plates of appetizers, and so many side dishes.
5. Are there ever any problems?
AM: Not too many, and if there are bumps in the road they come from a place of love. I just smooth them over with chocolate.
6. Why do you keep doing it?
AM: It's the love that fills the house, the laughter, and it's a lot less stressful now because everyone helps out. I don't care if it's messy, if all the dishes are out of place at the end of the night, because it's a sign that other people were here and trying to help. Thanksgiving dinner is all about family and togetherness.
In the end, Thanksgiving is a time for love and happiness, to celebrate family and friendships. No matter if all the food gets burnt and takeout is the only option left, it's all worth it for family.