Thanksgiving is a holiday that is always filled with tension for me though I seek desperately for ways to end that and to feel happy and and have fun on this food holiday.
Every day of my life, with few exceptions, I prepare 3 meals. Breakfast is nearly always something I cook. Lunch, generally leftovers from the previous evening’s meal. Supper is also nearly always a meal I cook. This means a lot of time in the kitchen chopping and stirring and standing and wiping and washing. Then Thanksgiving rolls around and can I tell you that I am not at all thankful to have to cook one more meal that day? A larger, more elaborate meal that requires
days weeks of advance preparation and planning? No THANKS.
For many years my kids would all spend Thanksgiving with their father in exchange for my having them at Christmas. It was fine. Yes, I missed them but I also enjoyed having a quiet day to ride or watch a movie marathon. Somehow, as they’ve grown up, they have come back around for this holiday. I see them in my daydreams, all standing hungrily at the front door demanding turkey with all of the fixings while I scream and cry and tear at my hair (and there’s not much to tear at. It isn’t really funny, middle age,) and so I cook a huge meal and do all of the planning and creating and we all eat and it is good.
It. Is. Good. Shhh. I’m trying to convince myself.
Really though, I resent mashing potatoes while everyone else is around the fire in the back yard eating oysters and drinking adult beverages. I detest all of the dishes and when some lovely human decides to pitch in and help with the cleanup, I detest the dishes on their behalf.
And then it’s done and I need a nap and everyone goes tootling off for their own nap. I end up with this feeling of loneliness, more than anything else.
Having the kids around is always a blessing. I love feeding them. Hell, I love cooking and feeding people more than most other things I do. However, on this day, when everyone is visiting and relaxing and chatting and I’m mostly all alone in the kitchen, there is a deep feeling of being an unpaid servant…a slave. And while I know that I volunteered, sort of, and that everyone appreciates the effort and that no one really thinks, “Hey, Tina’s our slave for the day,” that’s just how it feels and it sucks.
So this year I’m not doing it. I am not cooking a huge Thanksgiving meal. We get that on Wednesday night with my dad and all of my step-relatives anyway. On Thanksgiving Day we are going to make 8 appetizers, 3 each from Mark and I, 1 from our little girl and 1 from our college-age son. I am going to stock up on wine, beer, mixers and Shirley Temple fixings. Yes, I’m going to clean the goddamned house.
Then we will put all of that on the table and nibble all day long and I will not cook one more thing. The only dishes we use can go into the dishwasher and they will fit! The best part? We will invite all of our kinfolks and close friends to stop by whenever they have a minute or few hours to visit, put their feet up, play a game, watch a movie or whatever the flow of the day brings. This way we can all enjoy and be thankful for those who choose to share part of the day with us.
One of my appetizers is going to be cocktail sauce. I sure hope Mark chooses oysters.