Thanksgiving is upon us and we are gearing up for one of the busiest days, if not the busiest day, of our year. The day before Thanksgiving we are rocking and rolling out bread and dinner rolls, pies and pastries, quiche and cakes and anything else that we can think of to make our customers’ holiday less stressful. We take pre-orders right up until closing on Tuesday night, and we learned early on that those orders must be pre-paid or we will have wasted alot of time, energy and money when folks forget to pick up their orders.

Mark and I will get there around 3 am to start the breads and the morning baking, then Ivy and Lori will join us at 5 am to continue the baking on. Betuel will be in by 8 to do his part and Sharon, Leslie and Rheycel will cover the front counter for the day. We also learned early on that we had to set a time period for when everyone can come pick up his or her orders, so that we have time to get as much done as we possibly can. It takes time for bread to rise and pies to bake! Plus, we only have 2 ovens, so we have to stagger things as much as we can. Mark and Ivy have been rolling piecrusts for nearly a week now and we have been hoarding our marionberries and huckleberries for this special day.

Everyone loves homemade food on the holiday, but not everyone has the time, the resources, the desire, or the talent to put it all together. That’s where we can help! We always make several dozen extra rolls that day for those who did not think to pre-order and stumble in desperate for our fabulous rolls. Only a few sad souls go home empty handed at the end of the day because they waited too long and we ran out. Orders can be picked up from 2-4pm, and we are open only until 5 that night, which gives those who are extra delayed one last chance to pick up their orders. Mark and I go home around 5, bleary-eyed and exhausted, usually stopping somewhere on the way to eat a meal together before dropping ourselves into bed.

Since we are closed until Monday now, we normally find a place to go for the long weekend (it’s the most amount of time we get off in a row all year) where we can just rest and rejuvenate. Last year we rented a house in Yachats, OR right on smelt sands, and we went out for Thanksgiving dinner. The year before that we had a tiny little cabin up on the northern tip of Washington and cooked a small feast for ourselves in the tiny little kitchen. Just the basics: a turkey breast roast, some mashed potatoes, a few other little things and of course Mark has some pie. This year we are going to my sister’s place in Bingen, WA (down near Hood River, OR) and my parents will be there, also. It has been several years since we were together and with one of our families on Thanksgiving, so we are looking forward to it. I used to work the holiday when I was a police dispatcher, and often my mom would have us over for a leftover dinner, or we would even eat a family meal the week before the holiday. Mark would often go to both my parents and his parents’ houses for Thanksgiving and boy was he full!

For the first time this year we will be having a Heritage Turkey and I am really excited about that. We are getting it from a farm in Snowden, which is near Bingen, and so we are keeping it local. The turkey will be brined and dad will cook it in the charcoal BBQ so the skin turns purple and the smokiness is all though the super moist and flavorful meat. I have to admit the turkey and potatoes is my favorite part. My sister and sister-in-love are vegetarians so mom will make 2 kinds of stuffing (one with sausage, one without) and all the rest of the hearty sides and salads are vegetarian, so we all eat really well. We bring the dinner rolls and desserts, of course, and we all bring wine. Our family tradition is that as we sit down to eat we go around the table and everyone tells at least one thing that we are grateful for. Mom always cries and we always tease her and now my sister and I are starting to be criers, too. Sheesh!

Our family of staff all goes to their families and we all get a quiet weekend before the busy bustle of the Holiday Season really hits hard. Christmas and Hanukah cookies galore for a month! Not to mention our fabulous Tea & Stories with Mrs. Claus, which is a fantastic family event the 2 Saturdays before Christmas. We have lots of catering and special orders this month, and it is really fun to take care of everyone’s food wishes! We also ramp up our request for donations for the homeless, since it seems a bit easier to get things for those in need this time of year. This year it has been harder to collect those needed items and I am really hoping that the holiday spirit hits everyone soon in the giving department. I am so grateful every single time a customer walks in to the cafe, and we are blessed beyond belief. I want to be able to pass those blessings on to those who are out in the cold and feeling very lonely out there in the world.

What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? What are your traditions? I know we would all love to find out what others do to celebrate their gratefulness.