I don't know who gets credit for saying Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a race first, but I agree with him or her wholeheartedly. Did you know I've run 25 marathons? I hope you didn't even believe that for a second. Anyway, Thanksgiving is a long haul. No singular component is that hard, but almost any Thanksgiving dish has many involved steps. I realized a few years ago that I was losing the most time with tasks I thought of as quick and easy--peeling carrots, boiling the potatoes, arranging the buffet, rolling out the pie crust. 15-20 minute things that are negligible for a normal dinner. What I never used to account for were how many of these 15-20 minute tasks Thanksgiving has stacked on top of one another. As we've all learned the hard way, getting behind 20 minutes quickly turns into an hour turns into passive aggressive comments about how I'll just fill up on this delicious bread and not be able to eat any turkey! said with a forced smile and cold stare.
|Last year's table|
I've had some variation in my Thanksgiving menu, but have repeated several years in a row now. I'm so happy with it and think it's a very well-matched, traditional menu. I tend to ignore recipes and never remember how I make things. That's part of the fun for me though. While the menu may read the same, the seasonings and preparation will vary.
Since I know my menu, the next step is list making. Surprise, surprise, I'm kind of a compulsive list maker. In my atrocious handwriting, I quickly begin drafting lists. I'll say that I'm not trying to teach anything here. I trust that you're all familiar with the concept of a list, so I hope it's not coming across as though I think I've invented the wheel by writing them.
|I wasn't drunk, but my handwriting apparently was.|
I grew up in the safest, luckiest suburban court. Thanks in huge part to my (still) best friend and her big, insane, open, accepting family. Sometime I will need to go into detail about the cast of characters on that court. Across the street was one of the greatest, Michelle. Michelle was my good friend L's mom. Michelle is batshit crazy. She has a laugh that is like a hyena on cocaine and she would wear recycled fiber knit tunics with crystal necklaces to events at the school, where she'd pull up blaring some new age flute jams out the windows. She didn't give a single fuck what the Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers-clad mothers thought of her. Though my mom looked the part, she wasn't like those women either. They didn't look anything alike, but Michelle and my mom were quite similar. They each were fierce advocates for creativity and neither cared if their children fit into boxes. This wasn't particularly well-received by the neighboring women. They didn't interact with Michelle and my mom wasn't exactly their favorite. Mainly because she'd let her son (me) run around in heels and tutus and have a rose garden instead of playing with a sphere or whatever normal boys did. Michelle was a great teacher to me. She was always there to remind me that the world was so much bigger than our little court, while still working to make our little court a safe shelter. The entire family did. Walking into their house, full of weird art is that a boob?!, was a feeling of comfort, happiness, and just the right amount of WTF. Michelle is an expert in all things sixth sense and magical. She taught me about Reiki, Feng Shui, energy, chakras, karma, marching to the beat of your own djembe, and the joy of not being shackled to normal. She was the perfect resource for a voraciously curious kid. I've never seen a person more excited about anything than when she was doing my numerology chart and I told her I was born at 11:11. She had to put me on pause and call like ten psychics to tell them.
|The 1s and 2s denote first or second grocery trip.|
|My elementary school teachers have PTSD|
|Can you read those three items above 'SAJ Bread"?|
Anyway, I think of Michelle when I write my lists. She also taught me the concept of intuitive writing. Where you let thoughts flow to paper without damming them in the process. For me, everything comes together when I begin to write my squiggly, messy lists. I begin to visualize my platters and setting up the buffet. I write the menu and then write each ingredient for each dish. Then organize the ingredients into a shopping list. Which is soon divided into non-perishable, perishable food, floral, wine, and specialty.
|Last Year, above and below|
Once the shopping lists are made, it's time to write the schedule--It's all fun and games until I write the schedule. Having an actual, written schedule is helpful beyond words. The schedule is obviously mostly for cooking, but it's also a great way to ensure other nice outings and moments aren't choked out by cooking. For me, this is grabbing lunch with a friend (even if I walk in the restaurant with flour in my hair), taking Barbie to the park, or even watching the Macy's Parade (which I kind of hate but also have to see at least five minutes of). Last year, thanks to my master schedule, I enjoyed the parade at like 9AM with an early sampling of mashed potatoes and prosecco. Clearly, it's all elegance around here. My favorite element to any holiday is the anticipatory energy, and making time to enjoy that is an important part. Do you schedule yourself for the holidays? Or let them unfold organically?