Here it is — Monday evening before Thanksgiving and I have yet to cement any plans for the big day. Rest assured, I will eat something and be grateful for it.

Last year I took the family to a buffet at the Harbor View Hotel and I must say, it was worth every penny. There is much to be said about not cooking or cleaning up after.

For countless years — decades really — I started the night before and was up at the crack of dawn preparing a huge meal that was eaten in less than an hour. Forgive me if I sound critical of a great American family tradition, but honestly, Norman Rockwell was not a family member of mine.

In my family of origin we always went down the valley to my Gramma Kate’s and Granpa Bill’s, my father’s parents. He was one of 12, so there were dozens of uncles, aunts and cousins. It usually had snowed by then so we children played outside most of the day and then were assigned our spot at the kids’ table.

I do not remember the women ever sitting down. There was a lot of fetching and serving. The football game was always playing in the background. I vowed right then and there to have television, radio and now device-free meal times.

Oh, how I digress. The one thing I did miss last year was the leftovers. I am the queen of them. I think Calvin Trillin said the same of his mother. He said she served leftovers for 30 years — a team of anthropologists has been searching for the original meal.

Several of the job sites have yet to have a frost, unlike my garden, which was blackened weeks ago. Blue ageratum, petunias and alyssum are holding their own. I do not have the heart to pull them yet, even though it would be nice to finish some jobs.

I’ve been busy in the kitchen of late. I, for one, love the long nights. I finally come inside at a reasonable hour. Since I have quite a few local apples I’ve been making pies, crisps and sauce. I soak some rolled oats overnight in apple cider before using them with a butter, cinnamon and sugar mixture on the top of one-crust pies. I am pleased with the results.

There are dandelions blooming in my garden paths. They are so cheerful. I can’t ever pull them up! Cilantro, dill and bachelor buttons have seeded themselves everywhere. It’s astonishing that the one-inch tall seemingly tender plants are so hardy given our cold nights.

The winter berries are very nice in the up-Island Cronig’s parking lot. I have a couple of small ones. Last year, a flock of cedar waxwings devoured every berry in a single afternoon. I was fortunate to witness the feeding frenzy. I do not have bird feeders in the yard. I have barn cats that live outdoors and it would be unfair to lure birds to their possible demise.

The oak leaf hydrangeas are particularly nice this year. I never give them enough credit the rest of the year. Even their blossoms don’t do much for me but now the leaves against the exfoliating bark are striking.

I made several calls this past week to the governor’s office to express my displeasure with Governor Baker’s decision to bar Syrian refugees from our state. First of all, he cannot even do that so it is political grandstanding at its finest. To his credit he has changed his mind and did not sign the open letter to President Obama sent by a couple dozen Republican governors. Apparently, the protests at the State House did the job.

Let’s see, last year the big scare was Ebola and/or the children coming in from Mexico. Honestly, so much for Home of the Brave.

I listen to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me every Saturday morning (can I say how much I miss Car Talk). Anyway, this week they wee poking fun of the red state governors over the Syrian refugees. They said that Alabama does not need legislation to keep people out — just keep being Alabama.

By the way, the Governor’s office number is 888-870-7770.