Thanksgiving is a lot of work. Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is a scurrying, spastic event, running around madly turning burners on and off, opening and closing the oven, hovering over the slow cooker, agonizing over the pie. I have a special Thanksgiving apron that I wear when I cook Thanksgiving dinner, of course with an adorable calico turkey on it, with a big happy turkey smile. Little does it know…
There are the inevitable menu wars at Thanksgiving. My husband likes ham, but not for Thanksgiving. He only wants turkey. I hate turkey. I think no matter how well it’s prepared, it’s like dry, stringy cardboard. Not even the gravy can rescue it. My husband’s pickiness has caused me a lot of Thanksgiving grief. He doesn’t like any variation in cranberry recipes, not a single one. He only likes cranberry sauce straight out of the can, with the ridges still on it. One year my mother and I served him the contents of the entire can, still in can shape, with a sprig of parsley on top. He was not amused. He only wants Stovetop stuffing. Any attempt at something new and delicious, like cornbread stuffing, or New Orleans style oyster stuffing, is reviled and scorned. And then he must, repeat MUST have the dreaded green bean casserole with the fried onions on top. Nothing says Thanksgiving like everything out of a can or a box.
My mom has pretty much declared guerilla warfare on my husband’s pickiness. She ignores his preference for turkey, makes ham, and makes homemade dressing and cranberry compote. They are delicious. She is a fabulous cook. My husband also has the awful habit of going on the Atkins diet every year right before Thanksgiving. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he’s trying to give my mother a heart attack. For the first few years, she tried to cook Atkins friendly sides, but at last she has seen the hopelessness inherent in trying to please the unpleasable. She lets him fend for himself. I definitely agree with this (non)strategy.
There’s even stress inherent in where Thanksgiving is going to be held. Will we go see the folks? Will we go see the half-sister-in-law? Will we stay at my house because I’m stuck on call? This year I’ve evaded Thanksgiving call and we will be going to the folks’. Mom has already piled extra stress on me – she has requested that I make a side and a dessert “that my picky family will eat.” Well, I guess we’ll break out the green bean casserole. I don’t know what the hell I’ll do about dessert. My daughter wants apple pie. Does she realize how difficult it is to make an apple pie? She is only seven. I think not. Here it is Monday and I haven’t chosen recipes or gone for groceries. What do I do? I may make french green beans with almonds, as that is something my dieting husband will be able to eat. The irony is, my husband is on this strict diet and he only weighs 150 pounds. I’m the one that needs a diet. I’m on one – I just don’t know if it will survive the holidays.
Thanksgiving holiday also means The Iron Bowl. The epic battle between the University of Alabama and Auburn University takes place every year over the Thanksgiving holiday. This game alone can make or break a season for these schools. The rivalry is that serious. Since I am a U of A graduate, I of course root vociferously for Bama. This game has caused many a near-heart attack for all of us. Sometimes I just have to get up and leave the room.
So, Thanksgiving stress is upon us. But still, I love the idea of Thanksgiving. I love the idea of giving thanks for our many blessings. I love that we come together around the table and clink glasses and feel festive. I like to think that, despite the cynicism of the era, that Thanksgiving still has meaning for most.