It is two days before Thanksgiving. Two days before I am to prepare a feast for the family. Two days and I had not moved much past the thought of Thanksgiving dinner until today. The frozen turkey will not have time to thaw out, according to safe handling directions, before I am to season and place in the oven for an early dinner.
I do this every year. I know that I am to prepare the meal for the family. I have been preparing the meal for twenty plus years now. It is tradition. My children won’t have it any other way because The Man will die without his mother’s signature dressing. The Girl-in-the-Middle will die without her favorite macaroni and cheese despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing special about it: noodles, velveeta, butter, milk. If I even think to try to add something to spiff it up a little, she won’t have it.
Our menu is just about the same year after year after year after year. If I switch it up even the slightest, somebody is not happy because they have waited a whole year for this exact meal and “why did you have to change it, mom?” The only thing that changes is the type of green vegetable and I am free to do with the side salad whatever I please because few are likely to eat it anyway.
- mashed potatoes
- macaroni and cheese
- a green vegetable (my wild card)
- cranberry sauce
- sweet potato pie
We have the same meal every year and yet, I can never think of what I will need to prepare it. How did I make that dressing last year? Wait, which seasonings do I use? How many sweet potatoes do I need to make sure to not have enough pies for the entire community?
I stress over the preparing to prepare such that I never prepare. But, this year, I enlisted the help of a couple of coworkers. An “are you ready for Thanksgiving?” ended up with a “let’s go over what you need” counseling session. My coworker pulled up a chair and walked me through my menu, helping me decide (or rather, remember) what we were to have and what I would need to prepare each item on the menu. It is not that we cook the exact same or that our tastes are equal. Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving and there are some universals.
I had struggled with putting a list together all week and had gotten to the point where I was seriously considering which restaurant we would patronize on Thanksgiving. The problem is that I have never eaten out on a major holiday. This was a time reserved for eating in with family and friends. I was considering a restaurant and refusing a restaurant. I was going crazy and in 15 minutes I was able to sit with a coworker to come up with my grocery list and then cross-reference it with another coworker’s list.
Man does it take a community. My coworkers helped work out my list. The Man picked up The Boy from school and the Girl-in-the-Middle checked my list against what we already had at home. Traffic on the way home was easy breezy and the grocery store was unexplainably empty for it being so close to the holiday. Where was everyone else who had waited until the last minute? I put on my headphones and listened to smooth world music while walking the isles with list in hand. It was the most productive shopping trip I have ever made.
I am starting my thanks giving early. Giving thanks to community support and to that lucky penny (24 hrs was not completely up yet).