GINNA PARSONS: Best-laid Thanksgiving plan fails miserably at our table

Every year at Thanksgiving, we have a tradition at our holiday meal. After the blessing is said, but before everyone digs into the turkey and dressing, we go around the table and each person tells what he or she is thankful for.
In years past, this has led to laughter and more than a few tears. My mother-in-law often teases me, saying no Thanksgiving dinner is complete until I have sobbed into my cranberry sauce.
And while heartfelt thanks are sincerely appreciated, we’ve had some who took a good two to three minutes to go through his/her blessings. When you have 10 at the table, this can add up.
So this year, I made an arbitrary decision. Rather than go around the table, I decided we would all write down one thing we were thankful for this holiday and stick the little papers into a bowl.
After the blessing was said, and everyone had started eating, we would pass the bowl and each person would draw a note from it and read someone else’s blessing.
In theory, this would have worked beautifully. But here’s what happened.
My son Patrick drew first and read “unconditional love.” That was mine. Daughter Jennifer drew next and read “autumn trees.” That was my mother-in-law’s.
All was going as planned.
Granddaughter Zoie, 3, can’t read yet, so we skipped her and moved on to my husband. Charlie drew a piece of paper and read “armpit hair.”
That was my son, Patrick’s.
Let me just say, the blessings went downhill from there.
Jennifer was thankful for “hiccups,” Charlie for “short people” (a nod to Zoie), and because I’m a lady and this is a family newspaper, I’m not even going to tell you what daughter Mary was thankful for.
I was not amused and neither was my mother-in-law, but the rest of the table was doubled over in hysterics.
We’ll not be doing that little activity again.
Thankfully, we don’t count our blessings aloud at the holiday table at Christmas.
And speaking of Christmas, here’s a recipe from the December issue of Martha Stewart Living for a basic Christmas cookie dough. Martha gives 30 variations on this dough, but I’ll list only three. The yields will depend on the size and shape of cookies, and the baking time is approximate.

Basic Vanilla Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
34 teaspoon baking powder
12 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and beat until combined.
Cut dough into desired shapes and bake at 350 degrees until done, 12 to 14 minutes.

Variations:
For spice cookies, add 11⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice and 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper to the flour mixture.
For chocolate cookies, replace 1⁄3 cup flour with 1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
For citrus cookies, replace vanilla extract with 1 teaspoon finely grated citrus zest and 1 tablespoon fresh citrus juice.

Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal