Truth be told, the real reason I’m thankful at Thanksgiving is that it comes only once a year.
Don’t get me wrong. I make a practice of giving thanks and recognize that giving thanks usually lifts my spirit–but the Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t. Frankly, I blame my dear husband. If he had warned me during our brief season of dating–that period I call “false advertising”–that I would forever host a Thanksgiving dinner and never again land in my mother’s kitchen to merely lend a helping hand and “ooh” and “aah” over her turkey successes (and failures), I would have turned him down. Maybe.
Instead, I am forever dreading this holiday centered on turkey–with its finicky cooking time range–and its cumbersome side dishes that must be choreographed perfectly with said finicky bird. In short, Thanksgiving stresses me so much I fail to give thanks. I’ve suggested foregoing the traditional dinner and simply having crab legs with a side of broccoli. My husband says, “With the number of people eating here, that would cost a small fortune!”
Apparently, he has failed to make note of the host of Publix receipts tallying the plethora of ingredients and produce that accompany the relatively inexpensive turkey.
But today is the day after Thanksgiving (and I am blogging rather than Black Friday shopping). Yesterday is but a memory–evidenced by a takeover of my refrigerator(s) by leftovers, a stack of china and silverware begging to return to their places, and a nagging ache in my back that reminds me I stood all day long (except for the 20 minutes we spent eating dinner).
But Thanksgiving is done–and now I can truly give thanks! For me, the day was a success–for the most part. Yes, the pecan pie appears a bit dark and crunchy. Yes, the pumpkin pie is missing half its crust (which stuck to the pie shield I used in hopes of not overbrowning the crust). Yes, my mother’s apple pie recipe–always delicious–didn’t produce the usual juicy interior. Yes, the turkey took an extra hour to cook and made my side dishes a bit well done.
But this year I didn’t have Campbell’s soup cans exploding in the lower oven when I preheated it, forgetting to remove the casserole dishes in their wicker baskets (with the necessary ingredients I would need). My attempt to be uber organized and prepared backfired (and exploded) last year. Actually, only the wicker baskets charred; I prefer to consider the soups “precooked.” Cleaning the oven midday was a minor inconvenience. (And I admit I might have hidden the entire experience from my husband by quickly removing all the items to the back porch while waving pot holders frantically to prevent the smoke detector from sounding. I also managed to salvage the soup–once the cans cooled–and hide the burnt baskets at the bottom of the outside trash can.) Crisis averted.
As opposed to the previous year, when all seemed well, except that I kept comparing my turkey in the oven to the turkey on the computer screen and declaring I didn’t know where to put the thermometer–only to remove it after roasting and pass the carving job to my husband who declared, “This isn’t the breast! You cooked the turkey upside down! You’ve boiled it!” (I had used an oven-roasting bag, and, indeed, the turkey had stewed in its own juices.)
Of course, I maturely responded, “This is the last turkey I’m ever cooking!” before rushing into the bathroom for a good cry.
My husband–who still can’t understand how someone with breasts cannot recognize the breast side of a turkey–has declared that bird the best he’s ever had, with its moist breast meat–but I have yet to purposely cook the bird upside down as a result. (And for the record, I don’t see much of a resemblance between my body and that of a turkey.)
Every year, I stress. Every year, I spend days preparing for the 20-minute meal (although it is lasting longer now that my children are aging). And despite all my worrying (I always purchase a ham to serve–just in case the bird fails), Thanksgiving dinner has been a success (and a story).
Especially when looking back on it the day after.
Now, to tackle those leftovers! (I think I’ll start with the pie…)