Janie chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully as she perused the polished wooden table. She’d gone over it with Pine-Sol three times and rubbed it until it gleamed. To prevent scratching, she’d laid out a table runner down the center.
She eyed the color—plain orange—and frowned. She should’ve bought a new one, something more festive, more suited to the day. It was Thanksgiving, after all, and for the first time ever, her entire family was coming to her house.
Everything had to be perfect. Her mother-in-law would be there.
The smell of simmering onions assaulted her nostrils, distracting her from her work in progress. She spun on her heel and rushed to the kitchen. With a quick dash of sage and a peek at the potatoes, she went back to her table.
First, she topped the orange runner with plastic autumn leaves she’d found at Michael’s. Between Michael’s and Pier-One Imports, she’d gone way over their budget for the holiday, but she aimed to impress. Amid the leaves, went real corn stalks she’d gone to the Farmer’s Market for. She arranged them just so. She wished she had a cornucopia, but figured her idea would work just as well.
Oh! The sweet potato casserole! She had to pull it out of the oven before the marshmallows burned.
Quickly she rushed to the kitchen, placed oven mittens on her hands, and withdrew the lovely casserole. The marshmallows were only lightly browned.
Perfect! Everything was falling into place!
A glance at the clock assured her she had fifteen minutes left to finish the table. The pot full of stuffing was now sitting on a pot holder, soaking up the delightful juices and broth.
Janie added tiny pumpkins and squash and stepped back to view the wealth of color and vegetables now running down the center of the table.
Urgh! Something was missing, another color.
She snapped her fingers as an idea came to her and rushed back to the kitchen yet again. The purple grapes were in the fruit bowl just where they should be. Within seconds, they, too, graced the table.
She nervously wrung her hands in her apron and glanced around the kitchen one last time. Pots sat on the stovetop with lids on to keep their contents warm. Dinner rolls glistening with butter waited to set on the table as well. Aw! She needed the placemats, plates, and glasses.
Feeling extremely proud of herself—she had spent a pretty penny on the new dinnerware—she made sure to place wicker placemats at each setting—eight of them. Wicker placemats! She was sure nobody else had done wicker before. Wouldn’t the family be impressed with this table?
On top of the wicker mats, she laid orange-and-white plates with a leafy pattern. She had hand washed each one the day before, lovingly drying them by hand as well so they wouldn’t have unbecoming spots.
But the pride of her collection were the new glasses. Why, they looked like grapes! With the grapes on the table, the glasses with their bubbled up texture looked right at home and just begged to be filled with wine—or cider for the mother-in-law.
The glasses made a satisfying clink as she placed them by the orange-and-white plates.
Once she added the silverware and napkins, her table looked perfect.
She wrung her hands in her apron once more, not sure what to do with herself now. “Harold!” she called up the stairs to her husband. “Harold, what time did you tell them to be here?”
“Oh, they’re here!” She patted down any possible flyaway hairs, smoothed her apron, and rushed to the door. “Mother! You’re the first one here!” Janie greeted her stern-looking mother-in-law with a peck on the cheek.
“Oh, the others are right behind me.” Mrs. Lancaster nodded in the direction of the driveway as Janie took her mink coat from her. “What a lovely table, my dear!” She gasped and placed her wrinkled hand on her breast. “Well, you really did go all out, and to think I doubted we should have it here, that you couldn’t handle it. I stand corrected.”
Janie gritted her teeth and was tempted to drop the mink on the floor and declare oops!, but she merely smiled and headed to the kitchen to grab the cider for her mother-in-law and the merlot for herself!
Just as predicted, the rest of the family—father-in-law, brother-in-law and his brood, and a cousin—marched in the door chattering and divesting themselves of their wraps within moments.
Harold finally joined the fray and amidst the laughter and talk, Janie pointed out who sat where and to her great surprise, Mrs. Lancaster began helping her serve the meal.
But just when all was ready and everyone was oohing and aahing, Janie realized what she had been missing all along. In her haste to make a perfect table, in her all her fretting and worrying about today, she’d forgotten one thing.
“Janie my dear, you’ve got a great spread, but where the heck is the turkey?”