I'm doing bullet points because I'm still tired.
* We got 16 RSVPs and had 28 people coming in and out. But there was a lot of food, and it was great company. I found myself tempted to grouse, and immediately shut my own self up. There was plenty of food for everyone, and besides, L'Ailee and I both hate having a lot of leftovers anyway.
* I cooked almost everything, but L'Ailee's best friend, whom I will identify as A., and his fiance made and brought a turkey. I didn't want to make it because I hate handling any kind of raw meat and I'd have had to use rubber gloves so I didn't break out in hives. But I know how--my mother and brother are both considered exceptionally gifted with turkey by our relatives, and I paid attention--so I played Butterball Turkey Hotline for them. My best friend Yemaya is an actual pastry chef, so she bought a couple of pies to augment the ones I baked.
* About a third of the people who came are atheists, as is my beloved wife. L'Ailee and I got all inspired by Austin Cline of About.com's Atheism subsite. He suggested thanking various people rather than Gods. We decided that we should offer the option of thanking Gods (I certainly did), but ask our guests to thank people, both in and out of the room. It came out so beautifully! We ended up making each other laugh, cheer, and tear up. I actually ran my "thank yous" through a few times before people showed up to make sure I could do it in a timely fashion. (L'Ailee laughed at that.) L'Ailee and another guest brought out the food as we said our thank-yous, and that affected things. I thanked them for bringing out the food, a couple guests thanked us for letting them eat during the thank-yous so the food didn't get cold, and L'Ailee thanked me for making sure some of her favorites were left for her!
* The best came when another good friend of mine, Mona, announced her pregnancy. (Yay!) While watching the last couple races, she decided to stick to diet sodas without caffeine. She usually prefers beer or Diet Coke. Apparently L'Ailee and I weren't the only ones to ask her if she had something to tell us, but she felt the need to wait a little. (I've had three miscarriages. I understand.) Anyway, Mona mentioned that watching the news made her and her husband think that this might be a horrible time to bring a child into the world. "But it occurred to us that if we waited for a good time, it wouldn't happen. I don't think any of us got made or born when it was good and convenient. So I want to thank my ancestors, and all our ancestors, for making us and raising us the best they could even when things were going wrong for them."
* A couple of our guests were from India. One is a co-worker, and the other was a woman whom L'Ailee and I met at the Diwali celebration we attended in October and clicked with. (She felt unusual as an Indian NASCAR and hockey fan; we immediately invited her to come watch Homestead with us!) One brave-faced her way through the meal; the other blew in for dessert because she couldn't stand to be home with her family watching the news and the computer anymore. The rest of us just wanted to hug them. Fortunately, nobody they know was hurt. I know they're extremely thankful now, although the fact that India is blaming a Pakistani militant group might open up whole new worlds of trouble.
* A. is divorced and has a 7-year-old daughter of his own. She and Yemaya's daughter know and like each other. But A.'s daughter was spending Thanksgiving with his ex-wife's family. That is, until the ex-wife got invited to do something post-dinner with friends and suddenly decided it would be good to let him have the daughter for the rest of the night. She came over before dessert. L'Ailee was absolutely glacial towards her. But we like the little girl and know she can't help who her mother is, so we were all friendly to her. Yemaya's daughter was *thrilled* to see her. She'd been the only little person there, and the two of them hugged and squealed hellos. And A.'s daughter was pleased to get a second helping of sweet potato pie.
* For my broccoli-Velveeta-rice casserole (I still have redneck taste buds), I make broccoli puree with some diced white onion, a dash of minced garlic, and sea salt. It adds a nice bright taste and, while I am not an advocate of that awful "sneaky" cooking, does ensure that people eat a little more broccoli and a little less fat than they think. It's good stuff! However, it's not so good served chilled. In a 1:1 ratio with Pepsi, which makes it look and smell especially vile. Garnished with green apple-flavored Gummy Maggots candy. Yes, it's the drink dare, my and my brother's tradition that comes between dinner and dessert! The pool ended up going to $202, split between L'Ailee's best friend and my work husband. The two dollars came from two little girls who very much wanted to see someone gag their way through that concoction and fight to keep it down for a whole minute. It's a pretty good return on investment for A's daughter, because that money's going toward her Christmas gifts.
* The girls asked us what maggots were, and "ewwwwwww"ed agreeably when they were told. (Some guests plugged their ears or left the room for that explanation.) Then they took the rest of the bag of gummy maggots upstairs to L'Ailee's sewing room/attic and played. That was fine by the rest of us, as we could talk about things that would have grossed them out worse!
* L'Ailee and I cleaned up and slept really well. She and a couple friends were among the Black Friday shoppers. Now, L'Ailee brings one of her mouthguards (being a martial arts instructor, she has a large collection of them) to shop on that day. And she's gotten into a few fights on Black Fridays. But I didn't worry, until I heard the horrible news about the Walmart employee getting trampled to death. I called her immediately just to check up. We are glad that Queens councilman James Gennaro just proposed a bill mandating security measures for large stores and malls having "doorbuster" sales.. And I'm not one for lawsuits, but I hope that poor man's family cleans Walmart's clock in court.
* But in better, more cheerful news, Ann Coulter's jaw got broken and wired shut. Schadenfreude is an ugly emotion, but she's said so many ugly things.
* Finally, the great Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten decided that, as a liberal, he should reach out to "rural conservative white males" and assuage their fears about an upcoming Obama presidency. It's real helpful.