It isn’t a secret, I’m known as the Thanksgiving Day dinner mooch. I inherited this from my mother. Avoid having to cook Thanksgiving dinner, this is what I can take away from some of her teachings and guidance. At the beginning of November we check in with each other often, “Did you find a place to go for Thanksgiving yet?”
“Working on it.”
It isn’t that I can’t cook the biggest dinner of the year, it’s just that I don’t want to. I once dragged my husband and three boys to my niece’s boyfriend’s parent’s house on Thanksgiving Day. I bestowed upon my niece’s boyfriend’s mother a decorative candle to represent my thanks for feeding us that day.
So you can imagine my horror a couple years ago when I found out I had to cook. It was a last minute, five days before Thanksgiving decision. My mother-in-law was recuperating in a nursing home and we decided it would be best to keep it simple and split off into family sub-divisions, cook our own feast and visit mom on a planned, round the clock nursing home schedule and take her various versions of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Not only did we each stuff a turkey, we stuffed my mother-in-law too.
With my mom and dad firmly seated around my brother’s dining room table for dinner, yeah mom scored, I bought a 20-pound turkey, stuffed it and peeled the potatoes. Made pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, opened a bag of frozen corn and about one hundred and sixty-seven other things. I almost enjoyed it, there were just five of us so I didn’t trip over anyone in my small kitchen with no counter space. The problem is my husband expects this for all the Thanksgiving Day feasts for years to come. It was one thing to schlep the family to stranger’s houses when the boys were young, but we’ve multiplied. There is a daughter-in-law now and girlfriends, we take up half a dining room. That first year that I took over the cooking was the inevitable beginning of what I had been avoiding and doing a great job of avoiding it really.
I am now the Thanksgiving Day dinner hostess, waitress, chef and busboy. It’s really quite sad when you think of it, all that finagling down the drain. I had a good thing going, I’d make the mashed potatoes, grab some jars of pickles and leave the house. We’d walk into someone else’s home and the heavenly smell of a turkey would swirl around our heads.
Now I have to do the Thanksgiving dinner dance, year after year. Since I’ve eaten the once a year feast of turkey and stuffing at several different homes. I have to be on guard the entire month of November. I use to time it in such a way that we’d get an invitation just in the nick of time. I have to play this right. There will be friends and relatives milling about fishing for turkey information, I know this because I’m good at it and I can spot someone looking for a seat around the dining room table a mile away. There are only so many I can let in without my house becoming a fire hazard. I have to keep as many in the dark as possible for as long as I can so they make other plans. It sounds cruel, but I only have so many chairs. If I had everyone over that I’ve mooched off of over the years, dear God, they’d be hanging from the ceiling.