Okay, let’s get this thing really clear. Everybody has their own idea of what constitutes a proper Thanksgiving meal. Most of this has to do with what you mother did, or perhaps just the opposite of what she did. You see the point?
Anyway, if yours looks something (and I use the term loosely) like that to the right, well, let me explain. It does not pop out of a box that way. It’s the product of hours of painstaking work, toil, trouble, and aggravation. Which explains why the “doer” is often frazzled by Wednesday evening, grumpy, and otherwise more akin to a drill sergeant than a human being.
Holiday week is a unique time and those who must move amongst the “doers” should tread carefully. Most of us doers (those who host the event) realize that intense planning and list making are required to pull this off. Pulling it off means that the turkey and mashed potatoes are ready at about the same time. Food can thus be consumed warm if not actually hot. It goes without saying that as you sit down is not the time to contemplate what kind of dessert would be nice.
Plans are created and pretty much set in stone by Sunday. Lists are made, sometimes, multiple ones pertaining to different areas of concern. Shopping, cleaning, actual cooking, are only the beginning. The drill sergeant has the right (under natural law) to conscript anyone within view to assist in said tasks. It is best to make no objection but to acquiesce with some generosity. After all you are going to be expecting a spectacular meal, and should be happy to help, right?
You may be handed dusting rags or a vacuum and pointed in the direction of rooms you have not seen since last year at this time. You may be pushed out the door with list in hand to fight the hordes of other wild-eyed spouses in markets across the land, fighting for that last brussel sprout that just went dancing along aisle three. Do it. Don’t complain. The drill sergeant is deeply engrossed in a check down list of her own and cannot stop to listen to your whimpering that you just missed the early pre-Thanksgiving bowl game between Altoona State and Bald Mountain Tech.
Pets and children fare alike during this time. The general rule: be seen, barely and not heard at all. Most of all, stay the freakin’ heck out of the kitchen. Did I make that clear? “Get out of my kitchen!” Tiptoeing is at a premium during this time, and the adult non-doer spouse should train all short people and other than humans this important lesson. The penalty for disobedience is: “Get outside!!!!!”
All passersby are requested to keep their mitts off the food that is sitting around cooling, or awaiting some final disposition. When the shopping trip is complete, all such foods are packed in the fridge or onto a neutral table. These are OFF LIMITS. In fact any opening if the refrigerator will be met with a resounding “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR????” This will happen even if the drill sergeant is three rooms away. Uncanny hearing is part of the DS packet of tools.
In fact, it’s best if you operate by the rule: Do not eat anything during holiday week without first asking. Those peppermint candies? They look innocent enough. NO NO. Do not touch. They are going in the final frosting for the cake! All those lovely pecans? NO NO. Do not touch. They are going atop the squash!
And speaking of shopping. This is so essential, that the DS will seldom allow anyone to do it lest they miss something or get the wrong variety. Case in point.
On Sunday, after church, I wandered over to the ever present Walmart with a “Thanksgiving menu” list. I had carefully written everything down, and was systematically working my way through the 3,729,237 other individuals who also thought that Sunday at noon would be the perfect time to slip in and pick up the bird and the other fixin’s.
I’ve decided to cheat a bit, and not make my bread for the dressing. I’ll buy an appropriately “artisan” type and save myself a few minutes. Okay. So I go to the “artisan” bread section, suitably located near the “baking” area of the store and suitably wrapped in “authentic” looking bags. Why you could close your eyes and swear you were in an open air market in Paris right? Yeah. Sure.
So I see this rather nice loaf, looking officially “homemadish.” I flip the loaf and examine the ingredients. For $1.50, I’m expecting something decent here. The ingredient list is most of two inches in height and about two inches across. There are more than a dozen different things listed, and I struggle to find flour among them. I do find high fructose corn syrup. I wrinkle my nose.
I have wandered upon a “artisan” type loaf, but one that is meant to survive a nuclear explosion and then last until the next ice age. Preservatives by weight outweigh the flour. Since bread is composed at its basics of flour, water, and a bit of yeast and salt, I’m confounded.
I move down the aisle, and spot more bread. The price has now leapt to $3.00. I flip another loaf and find a list of ingredients about six items long. Prominent is flour. I choose that, but I can’t help wondering–why must I pay double for bread that has more than half less ingredients? The answer: This is America. And that’s all you need know.
Trust me, we are going to have a wonderful day on Thursday. But suffering is part of joy. You can tell you are happy by realizing that you aren’t suffering. Get it? So stop that whining, follow orders and I promise you, you will be so glad you did come Thursday. That’s an order!