You know, Mom was automatically an early riser, anyway. She needed an alarm clock, but years of raising kids had permanently made her a morning person. She'd get up earlier than usual on Thanksgiving, though, and start making the feast. All that food--and not only did she cook half the day away on the actual day, but she'd spend hours on preparation beforehand, too, over the days leading up to the actual holiday.
I don't work that hard.
Brining the turkey is automatically a time-saver, because you don't have to spend hours fussing over the thing as it roasts. No basting. No covering or uncovering or-or-or. Twenty minutes to make the brine, maybe an equivalent time actually to put the bird into the brine the next day. Twenty minutes of prep while the oven is preheating. Into the oven at one temp for half an hour or so, reduce to cooking temp, then check the little popper deal after a couple of hours.
Mom would make home-made stuffing, even to buying several loaves of cheap bread and making her own croutons. I remember the trays of bread cubes, sitting out and drying for several days prior to the actual day. As a little kid I got a kick out of stealing one or two of them and eating them, for some reason. Every year I'd get a headache when she simmered the onions and celery in butter, the night before. (When she later went low-fat, due to pancreatitis, she switched to chicken stock...and my headaches stopped.) I don't think I have her recipe, but then I never really cared for it all that much--not a big stuffing guy, myself, and the seasonings leaned too much on sage.
She'd bake pies, too. Pumpkin, of course. Later, she'd make pecan pies, too. Apple pies--or apple crisp--was not out of the question.
Jellied her own cranberries from fresh, made a delightful spinach salad with fresh mushrooms that I don't know how to make, candied yams and mashed potatoes and-and-and. (Not green bean casserole, though, that I remember.) Makes my own efforts look a little pathetic...but they make us happy, anyway, my wife and I.
* * *
...woke up almost at 8 on the dot. We're planning to get up around 10:30, so I'm going back to bed in a bit (having spent about 45 minutes already on this post, and eating a PBJ) but I'm kind of enjoying the peace and quiet.
We've got a 1 PM Skype call scheduled with the in-laws, and I want to set up Achernar with a webcam so we can sit on the family room sofa and talk to our relatives without huddling around a cell phone. But that's later.
Right now...a few more winks before the day really starts.