The Thanksgiving Plan
I would drive down to the greater Charleston area with Scout Son for a fun-filled family-by-choice “weekend.” I would get there early Tuesday evening, allowing for some writer-only time before the kids all came back from school in New York that night. We’d stay through Sunday noon, or until the end of time, whichever came last.
On Wednesday, after a good night’s sleep, I’d get up early and take my time making Pumpkin Cheesecake with Sour Cream Bourbon topping. We’d all take turns in the kitchen and the pre-event cooking would all be done in a leisurely fashion.
Thursday morning would be bright, shiny and relaxed, as Captain Thanksgiving took care of the turkey, potatoes and gravy.
Then, a weekend of holiday hoopla, online shopping, and torturing each other with family ornament craft time, much gaming, and a lot of eating.
The Thanksgiving Reality
One week before Thanksgiving: Get two-month temp assignment. No one mentions the upcoming holiday, or the belief that anyone would be willing to change travel plans to meet their needs. Work schedule bartering takes place, with me offering the soul of my next born child (I might have neglected to mention an inability for there to be a next born child) in exchange for working as late as necessary to meet a given goal on Tuesday and not being there on Wednesday.
Scout Son and I pack the car up, and seven hours after I planned on leaving, we hit the road. The race is on. Who will get to Charleston first: those of us driving, or the kids flying in from Rochester, NY? According to the Google Maps, we will win by ten minutes. But as every self-respecting speed demon knows, Google underestimates times. I feel good about my odds.
Scout Son drives as far as South Carolina’s Welcome Center. When I take over, something insane happens. Google announces there’s a bit of a backup on I-26 in Columbia, and no lie, I drive for an hour at higher than approved speeds (my Kia is the Millennium Falcon) only to have the Google tell me that I’m now 3.5 hours away instead of 2 hours away. Um, WTF?
For once in my life, I do not ignore the Google when it suggests I might want to consider an alternate route that will save me 1.75 hours, and… it is right. I win the race, but just barely, and not by the “I will be there before you get to the Rochester airport” amount I’d been hoping for.
Wednesday does start out early, as Captain Thanksgiving has to go to work for the morning. Well-rested is not a word that enters our vocabulary as we all had to do the catching up we’d planned to do earlier, and nobody went to bed before 2 a.m. With four-ish hours of sleep, we are now downing pots of life-saving coffee, and completely ignoring the plan.
Thus, at 3:00 that afternoon, there is a mad rush of four cooks into the kitchen because we’ve finally realized if we don’t get our $#@! together (yes, I had an opportunity to swear in the blog and passed it up), there will be no Thanksgiving feast. Oops.
Kitchen hilarity occurs. Yes, there might have been a wee bit of Jameson’s involved. Some whiskey for the cheesecake (don’t start – yes, I know whiskey and bourbon are different; whiskey’s better), some whiskey for the cooks.
Now, we come to the true holiday crisis. We’ve put together the breakfast casserole, but egads! It has to sit on the counter and “rest” (again, WTF?) for thirty minutes before you can bake it for an hour, and there’s one oven, and one turkey and it’s 24.5 pounds so it’s not going to just cook up in an hour.
Here’s where I make my mistake. I look at my dog. “You know, Princess Cassie of the Weak Bladder always gets up at 6ish to go out. I’m going to be down here anyway, so I could pull the casserole out when I bring her down. Then it’d be ready for cooking when we need it at 7:00.”
Much celebrating in the kitchen, and some more tequila/whiskey/wine, depending on who’s glass you sniff. (Julia Child was a wise woman.). Another late night of games, conversation and hilarity ensues.
6:00 Thanksgiving Morning: Princess Cassie snores on as my alarm goes off. You’ve got to be kidding. The one day I have to get up and she ignores me completely. I strongly consider putting her in a hamster suit and sending her back to the college dorm with Snarky Daughter. Stumble downstairs, pull out casserole, write time on aluminum foil (every minute counts when your casserole is resting), and fall back into bed.
6:33 Princess Cassie stretches, and comes over to nose me awake. Evil Cow from Hell. Fantastic! Now I’m awake – again – so might as well go downstairs, start the coffee, put the well-rested casserole (glad one of us is well-rested) into the oven and work out.
8:34 Captain Thanksgiving is wrestling a turkey in the sink. Bacteria-infused water has sloshed everywhere during the Turkey Tsunami of 2015. Dogs and cats are all about helping clean up the bacteria water, while humans practice their slip and slide skills in the kitchen. Points to the turkey for a last ditch attempt to save itself.
2:15 The table is set. Many platters of holiday goodness have appeared on the table. I am handed the most important bowl of all: the ton of mashed potatoes, now referred to as pota-tons! Yes, we are an amusing group, and no, for once, there wasn’t a large amount of alcohol involved in our humor.
I was told, “Please go put these on the table.” Small problem. There’s no room on the table, which is now listing under the weight of 24 pounds of turkey, five gallons of gravy, and fifteen side dishes. Then, I see it. The perfect empty space… and drop the serving bowl of mashed potatoes on my plate.
Let the mashed potato wars begin. I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to have me sit next to my arch nemesis Potato Guy, but there it is. He walks in and complains about my perfect potato placement. Silly boy. While everyone else wonders if they’re even going to see a potato, he and I reach a potato détente. Yay! Potatoes for all… but mostly for us. Seriously, eight people at the table, and I believe over ten pounds of mashed potatoes were made.
8:52 Gaming continues. I think we played Dark Moon, but really I’m not too sure. By that time, the exhaustion and the whiskey had kicked in. Also the allergy attack from hell that lasted 18 hours. We still haven’t figured out what triggered that.
I’d fill you in on the Crafting Explosion of 2015 which took place Friday night, and the holiday decorating that involved an English major doing electrical engineering of the Christmas tree, but there are some stories that are best saved for another day.
Stay tuned for the creating of the St. Lucia’s wreath of fire crafting project!