I cannot believe that a week has passed since Thanksgiving. Part of this feeling is due to the fact that I am currently over scheduled in a really obscene kind of way. The other part is that I’ve not had much of a chance to recover from BB’s visit due to the fact that I have had lengthy phone conversations with her each of the last seven days. I usually do a really good job of limiting our conversation frequency, but due to the hellish combination of BB’s approaching Christmas Eve visit and some extended family drama there has been no escape.
Okay, you asked.
I have cousin with a penile staff infection that has produced gangrene. No, I’m serious. Could I make this shit up? No, I don’t know how you get that. I have some ideas, but I don’t really know.
I had planned to write a finely crafted and hysterical article about how my Thanksgiving dinner in no way resembled the little Norman Rockwell fantasy that exists in my head. Unfortunately, in order for me to write funny stories about my very unfunny experiences I need a certain amount of separation from the event. Perspective, if you will, to make the subject matter funny and not just a stark raving lunatic rant.
I’m not really there yet.
So please, forgive me if this article comes off sounding bitter, harsh, or just downright unthankful.
Here are the highlights (lowlights) of last Thursday.
I don’t cook much. I’m capable enough and have been known to cook a really fabulous meal about which people rave. However, that all came to a screeching halt when my daughter was born. Once I added child number two to the mix, something had to go and I preferred to let cooking go rather than my charming disposition.
I have found that cooking is like a lot of things—you don’t really forget how to do it, but you tend to forget some of the subtleties that make the difference between cooking for your mom being tolerable or looking like something out of Christmas Vacation.
Subtleties like how long it takes to thaw a twenty pound turkey.
I knew I was in trouble at 7 a.m.. Fresh turkeys that are ready for the oven do not make an ice-crunching noise when you push on them. Further, the neck and gizzards are not cemented into the frozen cavity of a turkey that is ready for the oven.
Oh sure, I did all the right things. I immediately immersed the bird in water, switching the water out every ten minutes. I made progress. By 10 a.m. (an hour past the time the bird should have been residing in my preheated oven), I was able to break the neck in half and remove it from the bird’s cavity. At this point, I made the executive decision that this turkey was going into the oven stuffed with it’s own parts.
My mom was due to arrive at noon with an ETA for lunch at 2 p.m. This meant she would arrive at 11 a.m. and want to eat at 1 p.m. This would have been fine, except as noted above, the bird was still thawing and not in the oven at 10 a.m. This also happened to be the exact time BB called to tell me she was twenty minutes out and would be “a little early which will be fine because it will give us time to visit.”
Glory to God on this most thankful of days.
Twenty small ticking minutes. I had two competing priorities at this point. I needed heavy hors devours to feed everyone since lunch was looking more like dinner.
And I needed vodka.
Vodka trumps food.
For the next ten minutes I looked like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Individually shaking, in front of my mother, the number of martinis I was going to need to get through the day was out of the question.
So I made a half gallon all at once.
After the liquid manna from heaven was deposited into the fridge, I high tailed it out to the freezer in my garage. It’s always loaded with stuff from Schwann’s that can be easily prepared into a mini buffet. I grabbed spinach dip, cheese dip, chicken wings, cream cheese filled wontons, and shrimp. I headed back into the house and loaded the microwave, the oven, and the sink with food.
I poured my first martini and shoved my icy ass bird into the oven as the doorbell rang.
Joy to the World, BB has come.
The next six hours was filled with the following:
(Yes, six hours is how long it took the bird to get to 180 degrees—don’t think I didn’t think about risking salmonella, because I did.)
BB: “I think there are too many cooks in this kitchen.”
Me: “I agree.”
BB: “Then move out of my way.”
Me: “It is impossible for me to be in your way. This is my kitchen and therefore that means you are in my way.”
BB: “You made TEA? You never make TEA.”
Me: “That is NOT tea and I would be happy to make tea if you didn’t always bring your own.”
BB: “It looks like tea. What is it?”
Me (suppressing the urge to scream “MINE!”): “Cranberry punch.”
Okay, I realize telling her a half gallon of cranberry martinis is “punch” might not have been the smartest thing to do, but I was under some pressure people.
BB (talking to my nine year old daughter): “WOW. Since you have started gymnastics you are so muscular. I mean really. Beefy. You have beefed up.”
Me: “MOM! Do not tell her she looks beefy.”
BB: “Well, I can’t help it. She looks as strong as an ox.”
Me: “MOM. Stop that. She looks healthy and normal and fit. She is an athlete, not a Barbie doll.”
BB (talking to my twelve year old son): “What Thanksgiving food are you going to eat this year?”
My son: “Rolls.”
BB: “Is that all?”
My son: “Yes.”
BB (to me): “You know I’m just surprised he is not as skinny as a rail with no more than he eats.”
Me: “He is as skinny as a rail.”
BB: “Not really. Both of my kids were skinny, skinny and you were both good eaters too. What size pants are you wearing now?”
BB: “Those you have on look big and the pant legs are very wide.”
BB: “They just look big.”
Me: “Do I look big?”
BB: “I’m sure it’s just the pants. What size ARE they?”
Finally the turkey hit 180 degrees on the meat thermometer and we were ready to eat. BB flew into full blown whatdoeseveryonewanttodrink mode and before I knew it I was sitting at the table, facing my mom and step father, watching them drink my cranberry punch from large tea glasses.
I decided to just let that go.