Monday, November 19, 2012
Thanksgiving is the affair that gave me an idea for the book I’m supposed to be writing - “Cooking for Dead People.” It started last year when I wrote about the hysteria of putting together the biggest culinary event of the year, which I’ve made for the past 12 years without incident (except for 2005 when the heating element in my oven failed). I still feel nervous about getting the turkey and sides to the table in a Martha Stewart-esque fashion, and I dread the stacks of dishes that keep me from going to bed at a reasonable hour. As much as I want to love Thanksgiving, it’s a tremendous amount of work that is enjoyed, but not really appreciated.
After making the decision to “doctor up” recipes instead of cooking every protein, carbohydrate, starch, vegetable, and sweet from scratch, I also elected to ditch my “good” dishes and rely on … paper and plastic. The plates look like glass (they aren’t), the silverware looks like stainless steel (it isn’t), and the cups look like….well…plastic, but very clear plastic. You can see through them! Not a water spot to be found! I intend to toss every utensil and serving dish in the trash after I’ve kicked everyone out of the house.
I took the recipe cards and handed my husband the marching orders. It’s not that I don’t want a family Thanksgiving — I just want the kitchen to myself. We control freaks have to work alone.
“I am not getting up at 5:30 a.m. so we can eat dinner for lunch. I am not going to miss the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I am not going to skip a shower like I did last year because everyone showed up during breakfast. Therefore, at 12:00 noon, you are to take the drinks, vegetable tray, fruit display and cheese ball into the backyard. You are to put logs in the fire pit in case it’s not quite 60 degrees outside. Then, you are to turn the animals loose and create your own National Dog Show. This year, you’ll have a Golden Retriever, the 15-inch Beagle, a Welsh Corgi, and a mixture of all three. You are to give the girls a football and a soccer ball to play with, and a can of tennis balls for the National Dog Show contestants. Guests can find a bathroom in the garage, along with a hammock should someone need a nap. Then, at 3:00, you may come inside for dinner. And not a second before.”
Do you think he’ll ask me to say grace?
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Maryn came home from school with a picture pencil-drawn and partially colored depicting our Thanksgiving table. I am standing beside our cat, Ringo.
Where is everyone else? I asked.
“They’re not here,” she said. You chased them off.”
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Since I’ve been teaching a communications class at a local college, I’ve learned as much as I’ve lectured. I’ve discovered that despite working nearly every day for the past 9 years, I’ve done so from home, which means I’ve forgotten how the world turns and how the people in it tick. But, most importantly, I’ve learned how to be a better parent. How I hope my daughters’ teachers read this.
- I will always send a note or an email explaining the girls’ absences, even if it’s just a mild cold or a slight fever.
- I will always ask for their missing assignments, but I will never ask their teachers to go over the material beyond the basics. If they miss class, then I’m the substitute teacher.
- I will remember that good grades are a sign of the student’s achievement, but also of the teacher’s success in delivering and explaining the material.
- I will never challenge a grade or a score, unless it’s such a shock that I have to find out what went wrong.
- I will never ask for an assignment to be altered or replaced with something … dare I say … easier.
- I will order my children to pay attention in class and to keep their mouths shut unless they are called upon to answer a question, or they are asked to participate in classroom discussion..
- I will remind my children that school starts at 8:25, and being even five minutes late is a lengthy distraction.
- I will stress that neatness, effort and due dates count as much as correct answers.
- I will check the website for classroom updates, particularly messages from the teacher to the parents.
- I will confirm to my daughters that teachers have bad days, too.
Thursday, November 23, 2012
My little backyard Thanksgiving backfired like a Ford Thunderbird. I cheerfully ushered everyone out the door to enjoy food and drinks by the fire pit (with the dogs and children), and everyone found their way to the patio with the exception of my aunt, who announced, “That sounds like fun, but I’m going inside.”
I can also report that you can get the platter of turkey to the table a lot faster when you trip over the aunt’s cane.
The meal was a success, every crumb was devoured and there was nothing left of the bird but the wishbone. I took one end and broke it off, silently wishing that my parents had been here.
Friday, November 24, 2012
It’s the morning after and I’ve eaten as many Tums as cranberries. That’s the funny thing about cooking Thanksgiving dinner (or lunch, or if you flip back to 2011, it was breakfast) – after you’ve diced, chopped, seasoned, basted and tasted every recipe, you no longer want to eat it when it’s spooned onto your plate.
So now it’s Black Friday, and I have no desire to bust a door, as the sales flyers tag the hours of 6 a.m. to 12:00 noon. There’s nothing on God’s Green Earth that I need or want that much, other than a box of Zantac 150.
I’m protective of Thanksgiving because it was my mother’s favorite holiday and her culinary home run of the year. I usually have a healthy dose of seasonal depression from November 1st to the middle of January, and this year proved to be no different. I felt guilty about treating Thanksgiving as a day as opposed to a long weekend, particularly after I opened the Christmas decoration boxes and started hanging familiar bobbles around the house. I don’t think we’re supposed to put pumpkins under the tree.
Speaking of trees (as I ramble), my turquoise and orange Christmas ornaments looked quirky (yet modern) until Mike showed me the Howard Johnson motel chain logo. He calls this year’s tree theme “The Hojo”.
Saturday, November 25, 2012
A close friend of mine had dropped off a seasonal book for the girls to read this weekend, which I didn’t pay much attention to after I pulled it out of the mailbox. Ava and Maryn read it to each other, placed it aside and moved on to other things. This morning, as I sat on the couch with a hot cup of Starbucks’ Thanksgiving Blend coffee (which is by far the best concoction made, in my opinion), I opened the book, Thank You, Sarah, and began to read something that was as important as it was personal.
Thank You, Sarah is the story of Sarah Hale, whose relentless letters and 38 years of begging presidents, secured Thanksgiving’s status as a national holiday (thank you, Abe Lincoln). But author Laurie Halse Anderson’s description of Sarah Hale captured my attention so much that I read the book three times.
Thanksgiving needed a real superhero. Someone bold and brave and stubborn and smart. Thanksgiving needed Sarah Hale. Yet, Sarah Hale didn’t look like a superhero. She looked like a dainty little lady.
Never underestimate dainty little ladies.
The story goes on to explain what Sarah Hale did before she became a protector of what was supposed to be a religious holiday – one of gratitude, not of greed.
Sarah Hale fought for playgrounds for kids and schools for girls, and she protested spanking, junk foods, dull stories, and unreasonable attire for women. She also wrote articles and books, became the first magazine editor in America, and she composed “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
And how did she do these great things? She used a pen.
When Sarah saw something she didn’t like, she picked up her pen and she wrote about it. She wrote letters. She wrote articles. She wrote and she wrote and she wrote until she persuaded people to make the world a better place.
Because, as they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. Write on.
Observation after week four:
At first, I thought this exercise would be beneficial because it would force me to do other things – such as pay attention to my kids. But even without Facebook, my kids didn’t want to pay attention to me. So that hypothesis was proven wrong.
I thought Facebook was my addiction, but then I discovered that writing was my real obsession. So that hypothesis was proven wrong.
Lastly, I soon realized that I wasn’t really “off” Facebook if my husband was scanning his own page on an iPad from the opposite couch. He would read funny posts aloud and growl in frustration over others. If Facebook really is an addiction of some sort, then merely hearing about what’s going on is like inhaling second-hand smoke. You aren’t lighting up, but you’re still satisfying the craving. Can a person give up social media cold turkey? So far, research findings are inconclusive.
Marital argument of the week:
It’s awfully hard to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when your husband hates Matt Lauer.