his month, multi-generational family members and friends will come together to share a meal, fellowship, and give thanks for our blessings. Many of us volunteer our homes for the big gatherings, and sometimes it can get a bit stressful cleaning house and preparing the perfect holiday meal for a large group. And the older we are, the harder it is to get everything done on time.

Some Thanksgivings are more memorable than others, like when my husband and I invited aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends to join us for gumbo, which is a tradition in many Louisiana households. I had spent hours chopping onions, garlic and peppers, stirring roux, and peeling shrimp. Shortly before our guests were to arrive, two huge cast iron pots full of savory gumbo were bubbling on the stove when my husband decided that it would be better to pour the pots up into one giant crock-pot. I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I began ladling the gumbo into the crock-pot. Ever helpful, my hubby decided it would go faster if he picked up the heavy, hot pots and dumped the gumbo into the crock-pot, which he proceeded to do. I don’t know what went wrong, but my uninvited helper dropped the pot of hot gumbo on to the stovetop where it bounced … remember the old song about the meatball that rolled off the table, onto the floor, on and on?

The hot cast iron bounced off the stove top, splashing boiling gumbo on its way to the ceramic tile floor where it crashed and splashed a whole lot more. You wouldn’t think that cast iron would bounce but bounce it did. Gumbo went everywhere – even the ceiling! We were standing in gumbo, and it was dripping off our hair and faces, burning as it streamed down skin and clothes. A shrimp was dangling from Mr. Helpful’s glasses, and pieces of chicken and sausage were sliding down the walls. As blistering dark liquid soaked into my clothes, I asked my husband (as calmly as could be expected) to remove himself from the kitchen and leave the cleanup to me. But in the spirit of the Thanksgiving company due any minute, I did tell him I’d appreciate it if he emptied the carpet cleaner water basin.

What was I thinking? As my well-intended kitchen assistant was taking the basin of dirty water to dump outside, he must have slipped on gumbo because just as the doorbell rang, my husband slid, dropping the two-gallon container of nasty liquid upside down right in front of the door. His verbal response was not fit for sensitive ears!

What else could I do? Since Mr. Supreme Mess-Maker wasn’t in a mood for cheerful welcoming, I opened the door to discover that most of our guests had arrived at the same time. Standing in a large puddle of dirty water and dripping gumbo, I smiled sweetly and said, “Y’all may want to abstain from hugging us and just slip-slide through the water and gumbo to wherever you can find a clean spot.”

There was a shortage of gumbo that Thanksgiving Day, but thankfully there was plenty of pecan pie. Not my best Thanksgiving dinner, but certainly one of the most memorable.