Just the other day, someone asked me if I had somewhere to go on Thanksgiving. “Oh, yes, I’m taken care of,” I answered. You see it has been almost 40 years that Carl Crosier and I always celebrated the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) with Frank and Sue Haas. When our son Stephen was born, we asked them to be godparents; and when their daughter Elizabeth Anne was born about fifteen months later, we became her godparents. Our kids grew up eating beluga caviar like peanut butter (!) as it was part of Frank’s Armenian tradition on holidays.
Sue remembers that the first time they met Carl was in December 1972 when they all joined the Lutheran Church of Honolulu on the same Sunday. Frank and Sue had just gotten married a few months earlier and moved to Hawaii. Carl was just named organist in that same month. It was then Easter of 1973 that Sue, Frank and Carl had their first holiday meal — rack of lamb — Frank remembers that he had to kill a cane spider on the ceiling during the meal. I hope it didn’t fall into the lamb! Their first Thanksgiving together was 1973 and Carl made his mother’s pumpkin pie recipe. Ever since, we have had just about every Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter together. Of course, I didn’t join in until Carl and I were married in 1977. Frank and Sue moved back to Chicago for him to finish grad school then they returned to Hawaii for good in 1980.
In 1992 the Crosiers attended a convention of the Association of Anglican Musicians where we heard The Rev. Jeff Smith aka The Frugal Gourmet speak about how Americans have lost the concept of feasting. I remember him holding up a TV dinner tray as a symbol of the sorry state of affairs concerning American food. Typically, Thanksgiving food is laid out all at once and then gobbled up — two hours later, it’s over and done with and everyone feels too full and sleepy!
Well, ever since, the Crosiers and the Haases have celebrated the holidays in style with the typical holiday feast lasting five or six hours! We usually start around 2 pm with at least an hour or more of cocktails and assorted pupus (hors d’œuvres for you non-Hawaiian types), followed by an appetizer course, a soup course, and then a salad course. We usually take a break to wash the dishes and then to prepare and enjoy the entrée and side dishes, and then another long break before the dessert course and lastly a cheese course. It sounds like a lot of food, but it’s spread over many hours so no one feels overstuffed. We don’t usually eat the dessert course until about 8:00 or 9:00 pm! Over the course of the day, we just enjoy each other’s company, listen to music, and talk about our children’s activities and our latest trips, and engage in lively conversation sometimes including even politics! Luckily I think we’re all on the same page in that regard.
Here are some pictures of our past Thanksgivings.
Over the years we have invited people to join us, and now we’re a group of about twelve people who feast regularly on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter (when we’re in town). The Crosiers and Haases have alternated being the host, with the host providing the entrée (i.e. turkey on Thanksgiving). Everyone else contributes a pupu and a dish. Last Thanksgiving was my first without Carl, so I had the responsibility of cooking the turkey. Luckily, it was a complete success!
We’ll never forget the year that the Haases had a new oven and were going to cook a goose for Christmas dinner. The goose was put into the oven, but all of a sudden, Sue realized that the oven started going into the cleaning cycle! Those of you with self-cleaning ovens know that once it happens, you can’t open the oven door for nothing! I think what happened next was that someone shut off the power in an attempt to open the door, but it still wouldn’t open. That goose was cooked for sure! Frank got some steaks out of the freezer and we had grilled meat on the barbecue instead. Apparently, the oven door finally opened the next day and the goose was perfectly cooked!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, though, and I’m looking forward to Thursday! I’ll be contributing dilled shrimp for the pupus, fresh green beans with mushrooms and roasted almonds, and a French tarte tatin (apple tart) for dessert.