The holidays are coming! Run for your lives! What makes one wish to go to a deserted island for the holidays? Could it be the pressure for perfection, the stress of getting everything done, and how do I put this gently...the relatives. Thanksgiving is but one holiday where there is extra emphasis upon family harmony and togetherness but what happens when things aren't exactly so darn harmonious? Getting along seems much easier when you are interacting with people one on one. But for some reason something less than magical happens when you stick a large group of individuals together near a platter of turkey and mashed potatoes. Chaos.
Can anyone relate?
Once upon a time long ago, the Pollyanna in me decided to make Thanksgiving dinner for my then fiance's family and my own. We would get them all together at one table and it would be lovely. At that time I was in my twenties and still very wet behind the ears. I had these visions of family laughing and talking into the evening hours with glasses raised in a communal toast. The food would be picture perfect and new traditions would be started with our generation. Uh huh. And turkeys can fly. Actually I have heard they can fly a little but not much. But I digress.
The first thing that I failed to understand at such a young age was that one member per family owns each holiday. It is a simple fact but so true. In asking family to come to MY Thanksgiving dinner I was violating this very important rule. "But we always have Thanksgiving," was the instant reply. "Well this year we want to have you guys over so you won't have to do all that work," was my cheerful come back. "But you have never done this before are you sure?" Of course this triggered my defenses as in this person is telling me I can't pull this off! "Yesssss I am sure," I seethed. How hard could this be?
I found that the physical work to make this happen was nothing compared to the emotional stamina I would need to make it through this one dinner.
We didn't have much money back then and lived in a small apartment. I quickly found that we also lacked many of the items necessary to create a big feast. Like for example, a gravy boat. Let's just say that gravy wasn't an important food staple to us in our day to day life thus we never had a reason to buy a vessel to contain it. But on Thanksgiving gravy is pretty much second to the turkey. Of course it was Thanksgiving Day when we discovered our lack of hidden gravy boats in our larder. "WHAT WILL WE PUT THE GRAVY IN?" I groaned with the emphasis that only all caps can convey. My fiance's solution was to use a milk glass bowl his grandmother gave him which had a little ladle to go with it. I looked at this offering and knew that this was all wrong. I didn't know much about gravy or gravy boats but I did have a gut feeling about how gravy should not be presented. "It is either this or a cereal bowl," he reminded me. I quietly acquiesced.