Thanksgiving Postmortem

From my current perspective, Thanksgiving 2018 has taken on a warm fuzzy glow of comfort and happiness. From where I sit (nearly a week and several nights of excellent, non-turkey-being-eaten-by-wild-animals-nightmare-infested rest) it was just great.

But my daughter keeps saying “We should take notes on Thanksgiving,” and she’s right. But as I prepare to do so, some little details are coming back to me.

We’ve hosted Thanksgiving for three years now, so we are pretty good at getting things done in advance. I had all my shopping done Sunday, did a lot of prep Monday and most of the cooking and baking Tuesday and Wednesday.

As we consumed Thanksgiving-themed media (tv morning shows, radio commentary, the odd podcast) we remarked to one another that it was not our experience to feel so bad about coming together for a meal with family. So many people seemed to be dreading sitting at the table together. And I have to admit that the concept of “Friendsgiving” started to fester in me like a splinter. Why were so many people championing NOT being with family on Thanksgiving? I mean, a gathering of friends in addition to the family meal to mark the occasion is lovely. But what’s so bad about your family?

On Wednesday night, my oldest daughter suggested that maybe be don’t host next year, and I was surprised. Kind of. I knew that I wasn’t being the nicest these past days. And that was even before it was discovered that I had bought pecorino romano instead of parmigiana reggiano for the artichokes. (I’m married 22 years to an Italian-American man, I was a devoted follower of Mario Batali until his recent troubles, I took Italian for four years in college and did a presentation on Italian cooking as my final project — I can’t really still believe there’s a difference between those two.) *

The point is, maybe the problem isn’t the family on Thanksgiving Day, but your mother on all the other days. And I don’t mean my mother, I mean me. Entertaining is a funny balance of being in charge and also sharing responsibility. After the pecorino/parmigiana mixup, I took a moment (actually the five minute car ride home from Stop and Shop with two bags of parmigiana riding shotgun). I decided to step back. There were too many cooks in the kitchen. And I get the kitchen all of the other days of the year, often to my own dismay. The house was sorely in need of a deep tidying up, and it made more sense to let others carry the cooking to the end zone and go make sure there was a full roll of toilet paper in every dispenser. So what if they didn’t use the half and half I specifically got for the mashed potatoes?

It was fine, really better than fine. We had food for days, everyone got along and the house looked pretty tidy. When we toasted the cook, I made sure we pluralized that and toasted all of the cooks and named all of my helpers. Because I don’t want them to chose Friendsgiving over family when they have the choice.

*They are actually quite different, but one is not made of sawdust, as some people may suggest. Read all about it here.