Two days later: Oven-Roasted Tri-Tip with Southwestern Spice Rub.

Three days after that: Sautéed Pork Chops with Wilted Greens, Pine Nuts, and Raisins.

By the time he got to Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cranberry and Apple Stuffing and Cranberry–White Wine Reduction Sauce, Bill had bought a new meat thermometer, digital, with protruding wires and flashing lights that made it look as though he'd lifted the whole apparatus from an intensive care unit. He had driven to the Indo-Pakistani food store one city over, brought home a dozen bags of spices, and rooted around in the cupboards for empty jars to store them in. Six o'clock had become a delicate, perilous time at the kitchen end of our house; a white-wrapped butcher package would show up on the counter, and I would say to myself, "Ah! We should talk about this!" But then we wouldn't. I would stand around the kitchen for a while, looking for some lettuce to wash, and finally Bill would stride in and start pulling out frying pans and turning on three burners at once and flipping through measuring cups. I couldn't figure out how he had found the measuring cups, but he had, and furthermore he appeared to have mastered the trick of opening that cabinet door slowly, so the bud vases and the tea bag boxes don't fall out on your head. And now here he was on Roasted Pork Tenderloin night with his dried cranberries and his apples and his big damn cookbook, and he was holding a measuring cup up to the light, pouring wine precisely to the three-quarters mark, and he glanced over and saw the expression on my face.

We regarded each other for a minute. He scooped a wooden spoon into the stuffing, keeping his eyes on me; he had already sliced the meat, I noted stiffly, and fanned the pieces down the length of my grandmother's china serving platter.

"You should taste this," he said.

It smelled ridiculously good—sage, I guessed, and butter and garlic and onion, and maybe some thyme, and the faint sweetness of the fruit. I did a rapid calculation of the number of holiday tables at which Bill must have watched me push turkey around my plate while taking thirds on stuffing, and somewhere in the back of my head a tiny cloud of reason began to form. I thought about gratitude, about adaptability, about the splendid and infinite reach of marital give-and-take. I thought about compromise. I thought about grace. I thought about pecans, which it seemed to me the stuffing needed, you know, for the crunch, and not cut too big, and perhaps a bit more pepper.

But did I say that? I did not.

What I said was, "If you start baking desserts, I will blow up the kitchen."

Get the recipe for Cynthia Gorney's Chocolate Chip Cookies

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