“Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.” Kevin James
I equally adore and loathe holidays such as Thanksgiving. I love cooking and entertaining. I live for comments such as “This is so good.”
I have hosted dozens of Thanksgiving meals, more than I can count—a ton of work and several days of clean-up. I now look at such family friend events differently.
Keeping in mind that the guest list is not an obligation to funky family and feisty friends; choose who you want to be around. It’s so essential, but it needs to be said. If it comes from the heart and does not cause anxiety, then you know that obligation was yesterday. Today is light and full of positive, healthier choices.
My personal checklist for Thanksgiving: Clean the fridge, don’t stress, shop three times, don’t stress, set the table, don’t stress, go to the store one last time, don’t stress. Thirty minutes before funky family and feisty friends show up, one shot of tequila. Note to self: if stress wants to join the party, take three deep breaths and make a mental gratitude list.
Boundaries can mean separation from snarky comments and deviant behavior; yes, jealousy is the worst; I can lovingly build a wall when needed. It’s great to have the tools to be able to do that!
Cooking a turkey is a snap. It is a large bird; seriously, too much fuss over messing this one up. I have done turkeys throughout the years, including soaking the bird in an apple cider brine for two days. The most delicious and straightforward is mayonnaise with sugar, salt, and pepper; place the covered bird surrounded by veggies such as garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and bake. I have most basic recipes nailed, like green bean mushroom casserole from scratch, which is simply yummy. Planning how the courses will be prepared is like a choreographed dance I have attended more than once. I write a list and tape it to the cupboard so a course cannot go missing, hiding in the now clean refrigerator.
I have learned that potluck is less stressful, and those who choose to can bring one fabulous dish. I am not such a cooking snob that I must do it all.
Family drama always will show up; it’s a holiday fact. Did you know FAMILY is the original”F” word?
Anyhoo, I have become skillful at stepping aside and staying on my path. Enjoy who shows up, and cheers to that. Blended families, all families have their messed-up deal. That is what makes us all us. Albeit nerve-wracking, nail-biting, over-indulging, hilarity. No matter how Martha Stewart I become (and I love Martha Stewart), I can always expect some awkward, strange moment where you can hear a pin drop, “Did someone just say vagina? Why???”. Perhaps having toddlers and dogs zooming in will keep things as light as possible.
All the feet that land under our table count. Memories are made. It is how life and love will continue. Some feet will change yearly, and that is okay as well.
As the family comes together and grows and sometimes shrinks, they form and reform to become who we are. Those we chose to spend time with, frankly, those who have earned the right to celebrate with us. As years pass and I value myself, my time, energy, and excellent cooking skills, I am also more discerning regarding a tighter guest list.
The last thing I do after the shot of tequila is lower my expectations. I am not here to impress anyone; at best, I would be delighted to inspire someone, but not required.
I am in charge of myself, and the good times had by others are truly up to them. I can create a yummy, fun time, but seeing through their lens is their view, not mine.
My Mantra: “Layering fond memories is what counts.”