Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Thanksgiving in a Nutshell a.k.a. Setting the Bar: How Low Can You Go? a.k.a. The Best Guest List EVER

   I hope that everyone had a happy holiday. Here's mine in a nutshell. (You must all realize by now that my nutshell is not small insomuch as the Hulk is small. It is the condominium of nutshells, and I shall take you through each and every room. Possibly several times.) You have been warned.

   To begin with, my husband and I, ever the pre-planners, found ourselves shopping on the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. On a Saturday. At two o'clock in the afternoon. The store could not have been busier if the TV news had announced a three week blizzard followed by a zombie apocalypse.

   The line for the turkeys- yes- the LINE- was long and winding. Though not nearly as pleasant as the road in the Beatles' ballad. Tempers were high, greed even higher, and everyone had the I'm-the-only-person-in-existence complex working for them. I advised one girl- a tiny, trim little thing- that was trying to wedge her way in to get a frozen bird to throw an elbow. She giggled. She thought I was joking.

   Alas, I was not.

   Eventually I got my bird without having to give one, and made my way through the rest of the aisles like Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible (I even had the theme music running through my head), winding and weaving, twisting, turning, feinting and all but cart-wheeling through the store. I was grace and determination personified. At least I thought so.

   With our cache of food, we made it home, to wait for the DAY. Okay, so waiting really meant working eight to ten hour days and juggling in choir practice, all with a blinding migraine. It was AWESOME!

   The day finally arrived and I dragged myself out of the bed at the ungodly six o'clock hour, stumbled in the kitchen to pour myself a cup of ambition (thanks Dolly) and started wrestling the turkey. I bathed, buttered, seasoned, stocked and slapped the turkey into the roasting pan, all the while waiting for the oven to pre-heat. Meanwhile, I was reminiscing the Thanksgiving from Hell.

   This happened many moons ago, when my children were still small and cute. We were celebrating the holiday in our new home, and some very close friends of mine (more extended family than friends) were coming to join us. At that time, I was a pre-planner to the hilt. You have to be when you have kids. Now, I pretty much wing it.

   Anyway, Sunday: pre-turkey day, I awoke to a chill in the air. A cold, Artic chill. Hmmm. Whatever could be the problem? The furnace was out. Great. So I called the furnace guys. The furnace guys enlightened me with the glorious news that indeed, my furnace was kaput, in every sense of the word. Bad news: you need a new furnace. Good news: they could install it in time for the arrival of my guests and just before I slapped the turkey on the table. Goody.

   Monday: I awoke to a flood in my kitchen. Egads! Whatever shall I do? Build an ark or call a plumber? I called the plumber. He found a leak in the pipe going in or out of the water heater in the closet in my kitchen, replaced it and went on his merry way. Meanwhile the furnace guys were tinkering around in the other side of the closet.

   Tuesday: I awoke to yet ANOTHER flood in my kitchen. Figuring the plumber had been thrown off his game by working in such close proximity to the furnace guys (who by the way, were still finishing up the job), I called him back. He returned only to discover the leak was not ONLY in the pipe, but also out of the bottom of the water heater that was completely rusted out. Off to Menards to buy a new water heater. Oh, and also new flooring because the second flood was too much for the floor to handle and since it had been carpeted (WHO puts carpet in a kitchen anyway??) it had to all be torn out and replaced. I spent the rest of the day pulling out carpeting and laying new vinyl flooring until roughly two in the morning. At least it was toasty with the new furnace cycling merrily away.

   Wednesday: With a new floor, new water heater, new pipes running to and/or from said water heater, and a new furnace, I was feeling more than slightly broke, BUT relatively safe. Until I started baking. And the oven did NOT work. NO joke. Heated up to about 100 degrees and called it quits. Back to Menards to buy a new stove. KILL ME NOW.

   Thursday: TURKEY day!! Hallelujah! We made it! I dragged my butt out of the bed at the ungodly six o'clock hour, stumbled to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of ambition- BUT WAIT- no- the coffee pot does NOT work. There is NO perk in the percolator. The stupid light doesn't even come on. I picked it up- not just the pot- THE WHOLE thing- and THREW it across my shiny new kitchen.

   So, back to the present, with the bar set that low there is NO way I can ever NOT clear it again for essentially the rest of my life. No matter how exhausted and over-worked I was, no matter how bad my migraine, I hadn't spent the week in mandatory remodeling. All was well.

   I went to shove the turkey into the oven when I realized that he/she was wearing a bracelet, or a watch, or something around it's ankle(?). What is this oddity? I wondered. I retrieved my glasses and looked closer. All of the turkey, with the exception of this one ankle, had been plucked smooth. The ankle was still fluffy with feathers. Weird. I plucked them and moved on. Who eats ankles anyway?

   The day went off without a hitch- except that I forgot to make my daughter's favorite green beans, and we had to scramble around at the last minute for an extra place setting due to errant counting. Overall though, it was a success. The guest list included some of my kids' friends, so it was a large group that sat elbow to elbow around the table, but everyone seemed to have a good time and they all seemed to enjoy the food. I was feeling gloriously triumphant. Victory was mine! The BEST Thanksgiving EVER.

   Until we went to my friends' house for a second, belated celebration of the same holiday. Upon entering their living room I found a life-sized cardboard stand-up of Saruman and another of Frodo waiting near the stairs. They were just in time for dinner. Damn. I had only invited family and friends. Obviously, their guest list was WAY better than mine…

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