I never told you what happened Thanksgiving.
I gave you the run-up on our family holiday, but I never circled back around and told you how it all went down. Because I was (still am) out of action because of Gimpy the Foot, my husband and sons gallantly decided that they would cook Thanksgiving dinner.
And they tried. Oh, how they tried. I could see part of the action from my recliner in the living room. It reminded me of the first time I tried to put one of these things together as a newlywed. Only they didn’t have a Fannie Farmer cookbook to cheer them on.
About 3 on that Thanksgiving afternoon, I heard my husband’s voice, coming from the kitchen. “I can’t do this.” he said. “There’s too much to get done all at once.”
He sounded sad. Lost. Defeated. Beaten to the tile floor by the mashed potatoes, dressing, ham, turkey and deviled eggs vying for his attention. The chaos of our sons, bouncing around the kitchen like St Bernards as they tried to “help” only made things worse.
I have to admit, I got a bit of … what is it? … pleasure, I suppose is the word. I got a bit of pleasure out of this. It was one of those, see? It’s not so easy! moments.
After 30 years of cooking these big dinners for my extended family all alone, (my sister has multiple sclerosis, my brother-in-law has various health problems, my niece is a drug addict and never shows up, my husband has matrimony-induced cooking amnesia, etc, etc) those sad, defeated words coming from the kitchen felt kinda good. They felt like … vindication.
Then, my better instincts kicked in.
I could’ve sat there and done nothing. No one would have blamed me. It was, after all, doctor’s orders. But that plaintive voice, and the growing certainty that we were headed for Spam turkey with a side order of Beanie Weanies for Thanksgiving dinner, got to me. I reached for my walker. It was clearly time for mom to set things aright.
They brought me a chair and put it next to the kitchen counter so I could stir and season while sitting down. They more or less obeyed my orders as I told them, “The turkey’s done. Take the lid off the roaster and turn the temperature up and let it brown. When it comes out, put those dishes in the oven and put the roaster on the stove to make gravy.”
It wasn’t exactly military precision, but they bustled around while I put things together and we — finally — sat down to eat.
Now, Christmas is upon us and I am still not supposed to stand. Gimpy’s moving on, so to speak. She has a spiffy new boot that looks like it was stolen off a starship trooper and I can walk for short distances unaided. What I can’t do is stand. More than about five minutes of flat standing and the Gimpster gears up the old pain alert.
The boys have invited their friends for dinner. Other friends have asked to come. I’m not sure why they want to spend Christmas here in Dullsville. I won’t let them curse. They have to say grace. And they’re probably going to end up having to cook a big part of their own dinner. All I can figure is that we have an intact family and we all like one another, something these young people don’t have. One of them said he wanted to get away from his family because he didn’t want to have to go from one house to the next.
Whatever. They’re welcome here.
I plan to put them to work. At our house, you don’t sing for your supper. You windex the glass dinner table (genuine hand-me-down, circa early matrimony) set the table with our mismatched plates (genuine Target) and our equally mismatched stainless steel ware. Then later, you help load the dishwasher.
They know that, and they still want to come. Go figure. If somebody lights a match at the wrong time, this house may blow up from excess testosterone. I expect great clouds of the stuff. Frankly, the thought of so many young men trying to peel potatoes, make gravy and whip up deviled eggs in my little kitchen is pretty funny. I will, once again, conduct this tuneless orchestra as they labor to produce an edible meal.
I’ve also made a list of restaurants that will be open Christmas.
Just in case.