November 26 is a predictably beautiful day at St. Philip’s, as we gather to give thanks. Warming sun, clear blue skies, and our gorgeous church, with its rich traditions and beautiful grounds, greet us. At noon, after the Thanksgiving Eucharist, the walk from the Church to the Murphey Gallery seems especially green and bright. We give thanks to the Garden Guild, the Phixers and all those who look after our buildings and grounds, keeping them safe, well maintained, and welcoming all year long.
We are grateful on this day, as we always are, for our dedicated volunteers. The Parish Life Ministry and Chair Jeannine Rainbolt rounded up dozens of us to prepare for this Thanksgiving feast. All involved are thankful for the time to renew friendships and find new friends as we share the fun of working together to dress the tables, set up and serve the buffet, and clean up afterwards.
We are grateful for the Rev. Canon Frank Clark’s blessing before our meal, and for our Master of Ceremonies, the ever-affable Roger Rainbolt. His good-natured but firm insistence on some sort of order generally keeps more than 150 of us in line or waiting patiently for our table number to be called. Finally our plates are full. The St. Philip’s sommelier pours red and white wine, and young volunteers serve other kinds of drinks at another table. There is plenty of food for all, warmth and camaraderie among us, and lots of leftovers to take home.
We are grateful to those who, early on this day, filled up their own kitchens with the holiday scents of roasting turkey, bringing a dozen or more for us to enjoy. Speaking of turkeys, we are always thankful for our hardworking Bill Brinkley, who this year almost singlehandedly carved those turkeys. Unfortunately, he ended up with one of them on his head.
We are thankful for our chef Thomas Valenzuela, dressed in his handsome kitchen qhites, who makes delicious gravy and prepares mashed potatoes and fruited dressing — 50 lbs. of each — in great vats. He, Michael Eppard, and the kitchen volunteer crew send leftovers home, then bravely attack the remains of the day, leaving sparkling clean tableware and glasses, pots and pans, and a spotless kitchen ready for breakfast on Sunday.
Thank you to those who contribute all kinds of delicious side dishes to our Thanksgiving feast. There are appetizers of cold shrimp, cheeses, crackers and breads. Wonderful roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, corn casserole, winter squash, and cranberry relishes are among the dozens of side dishes offered. Salads frozen, fruited, moussed, and green offer sweet or savory counterpoints to the main meal. There are plenty of the old familiar offerings, but also plenty of new tastes to please our palates.
Those of us with sweet teeth save plenty of room for the finale. We thank those who bring desserts! Lots of all kinds of pumpkin and sweet potato pies come, some with nuts or cream cheese, and whipped cream keeping icy in a bowl nearby. There are apple pies, too, and fruit bars, brownie bites with chocolate inside, cookies of all description. Not one but two luscious Pavlovas crown the dessert table. Invented by New Zealanders to welcome the famous ballerina Anna Pavlova to their country in 1926, it is made of real egg-white meringue piled into a bowl-like shape, then filled with a glorious light custard and decorated with fresh fruit of the season – in this case red raspberries, strawberries, and of course, Kiwi fruit.
We at St. Philip’s are truly grateful for many things this Thanksgiving, particularly the health and safety of our loved ones and for our church community. We thank our clergy and deacons, our staff and sextons, our wardens and vestry, and all those who dedicate so much time, thought, and care to our church. We thank Canon Clark, who, with a no-nonsense twinkle in his eye, is working with us to accomplish great things in the next year. His presence has focused our positive attention on the future of our parish. We do indeed have a Happy Thanksgiving!
photos by Roger Rainbolt