Thursday was our big dinner.
Jay came home from school right after lunch and we set to work. As an aside, let me just say that I simply don't understand how my grandmother cooks an entire Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner by herself. Jay and I had worked out a very specific schedule of when we needed to start preparing/cooking each item. If we hadn't done that (and if there hadn't been two of us) we would have been in a world of hurt.
We decided on oven-fried chicken rather than pan-fried chicken since my dry run (and I do mean dry) on Sunday turned out to be a debacle. I couldn't get the temperature of my oil right and I didn't have time to experiment and tweak during the rest of the week. Other than that, the menu stayed the same: macaroni and cheese (doubled the recipe and could've fed a small country), greens (I was right; they weren't excited, but polite enough to take a small bite each), mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, cornbread, apple pie, and sweet potato pie. I did the cooking, Jay did the baking, and we almost even got it on the table by our intended start time!
They were very gracious and seemed to enjoy everything. But the most exciting part is that the Student Activities Director, who set up the whole Be Our Guest event, had a sneaky hand the choice of these particular women to dine with us. One of them is going to my seminary alma mater for her Master of Theological Studies and one of them is going to another Boston area seminary for an MA in Church History. The third woman was a friend of the latter who is planning to teach.
All three have had an interesting four years at the university. They could have been absorbing and internalizing all the messages they've been hearing about their role as Christian women, including what they are and aren't "allowed" to do and be. Instead, they have come to realize that they are called most of all to be stewards of the gifts and graces given to them by God, and that using those gifts may directly contradict the messages they've been received so long about what they "can" and "can't" do. They have realized that thinking is not a dangerous or threatening activity (and believe me, these were some sharp women), but rather their Christian responsiblity. They have had some unpleasant experiences because of these realizations and their choices to act upon them, but those experiences have only made them stronger.
We all came away, I think, with bellies full of food and hearts full of hope.
When they left later that night Jay and I realized that none of the water anywhere in the house was draining. Our guest bathroom toilet overflowed and the master bath toilet wouldn't flush. Our kitchen sink was making very disturbing gurgling noises. So Jay crawled around under the house until 1:00 a.m. trying to figure out the problem. When he realized that the clog wasn't in the pipes under the house, he put in a service call to our home warranty company. So there we were...a sink and counter overflowing with dirty dishes, no water, and no idea what the problem was or how long it would take to fix it. So we headed outside with our toothbrushes to brush our teeth in the backyard with the hose.
Did I mention we were having 20 folks from the Engineering Department over for dinner the next day and that 10 of them were camping out on our property?