Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Thanksgiving Is a Battlefield
I haven't been home for Thanksgiving for three years now. Sometimes that makes me sad. But I'm realizing that it is a lot less stressful to just stay in my apartment and enjoy four days of a "HUGE AND IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT!" than it is to spend an entire day cooking. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner is hard work, man.
My "HUGE AND IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT!" this year is painting my apartment and packing up my bookshelves. Since I'm moving at the end of December, and since I like to be seven steps ahead of schedule on things, I have made a list of things to do in advance. 1) Packing of bookshelves 2) Painting of walls 3) Talking to self about what else I can add to list. It is a "HUGE AND IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT!" and not just a "huge and/or impossible project" because I know myself well enough to realize that at some point tomorrow when I have painted several walls and just want to lie around, eat pie, and watch a movie, I will utter the words, "I am never going to finish this, am I?"
Two years ago on Thanksgiving, my "HUGE AND IMPOSSIBLE PROJECT!" was painting my kitchen avocado and putting up my Christmas lights. It took me four days. I left only once to go feed my friend's cat.
But before I decided that it was better for my financial situation to just stay in New York over Thanksgiving weekend, I would be home every year, cooking and cleaning and being generally jolly. (And don't even get me started on how much I love turkey and pies.)
My mom would be up at 4 AM to put the turkey in the oven. My sister and I would grind cranberries, apples, and nuts for the cranberry salad with the old hand-crank grinder. That was our tradition. My dad's tradition was coming into the kitchen and saying, "I hope you don't use too many cracker crumbs in the scalloped cabbage this year." My younger brother had to make the mashed potatoes. My mom always got all twitchy and had to say the words, "Well, I'm just going to make the turkey, and the oyster dressing, and the gravy, and that's IT. That's all I'm doing!" After which time my sister and I would point out that for the 20th year in a row, we were helping her out. (She still has flashbacks to cooking Thanksgiving dinner by herself. Poor Mom.) And my older brother had to come by to check on the dessert situation. There was lots of yelling involved. Generally, the sparkling wine was opened at noon. And as stressful as it all was, it was a lovely tradition for a while.
I talk about it in the past tense because I'm almost positive that the next time I get to be with my family for Thanksgiving, everything will be different. My sister will have finally broken down and used the food processor for the cranberry salad. My dad will have finally overruled the use of cracker crumbs in all dishes involving cabbage. And Mom will have finally realized that she doesn't need to make a pan of oyster dressing for 50-60 people. By that time, I might even yearn for one of my "HUGE AND IMPOSSIBLE PROJECTS!" and four days of laying on my couch moaning for someone to just kill me already.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!