Thursday, November 21, 2019

Thanksgiving You-Might-Want-To-Dos

A straw cone-shaped basket with fruits and vegetables spilling from it.There is so much hullabaloo around Thanksgiving – what to cook, how to cook it, who to invite, how to deal with them, how to avoid kitchen disasters and so on and so on. There are endless avenues for advice online, in videos and in family lore.  Most of it is a bunch of hooey (except maybe the family lore part). It’s really a pretty simple process to create the meal: put the turkey in the oven, prepare the side dishes while it’s cooking (you have hours, after all), take the turkey out, put in the rolls while the turkey is being carved and then put in the pies. Or, if you want your pies quicker, stick them in the oven before the turkey – either way one dish will have a nice, preheated oven to get the second dish going. Voila – your dinner is done! People worry overly much about the food when it is really the things outside the kitchen realm that can cause the day to go haywire. Here are some suggestions to smooth your day:

A group of dark-haired watching a TV in front of a white wall.
Get some DVDs – Keeping a horde of youngsters occupied while you’re mashing potatoes and drinking wine can be challenging. Give them a space of their own and some movies to watch. You don’t need to get a bunch; younger kids will happily watch the same movies over and over (this article explains why). Hit up Redbox or that one guy you know who has, like, 300 DVDs for no apparent reason. And, yes, there is Netflix, but taking the endless chunks of time necessary to find something for them to watch is just not practical on Thanksgiving Day. If a streaming service is how you want to go, I suggest VUDU. With them, you are able to pick movies ahead of time and watch them when you’re ready. If you’re going the Redbox route, be aware that they often run out of movies (especially the most popular ones), which can be super-annoying. You should plan to get to the box ahead of the Wednesday-Thursday rush. Basic DVD players are quite cheap these days (here’s one for $19.98 at Walmart); so go ahead and get one for that spare room.

A table full of Thanksgiving and a black and white dog on his hind legs begging for some.
Prep your house – You should prepare your home for guests well before they arrive. Declutter everywhere, store away breakables and other treasured items and add work space in the kitchen and eating space wherever (this article has some excellent ideas) Adult-proofing a house is as important as child-proofing – grown-ups will also spill, put drinks on every surface and possibly knock over Aunt Vera’s crystal vase in a fit of  excitement during the game. If there are smokers among your guests, make it clear when and where smoking is acceptable to you. If you want them to go outside, then provide them a place to sit and a spot to leave their butts (otherwise they may trample the flowerbed and toss butts in your neighbor’s yard). If you have pets, consider where you want them to be during the gathering. Some are a natural part of the busy day, others may need to be separated. If you pet can’t be outside, don’t let them wander around while your guests are there. “Don’t let Roscoe out” never works – he will make his escape when your cousin Bill is hauling in the beer or little Peggy answers the doorbell. And then the chase is on. Here is one of the many articles with tips on Thanksgiving with dogs.

In the foreground there is a view of the Thanksgiving goodies inside a shopping cart, in the background is a blurred out view of a grocery store aisle.
Plan to shop more than once – Go early (at least the weekend before), get the
essentials and plan to go back to get those things you forgot. Because, unless preparedness is your superpower, something will be forgotten. As soon as you say to yourself, “I’m pretty sure I have that” or “There’s always some in the fridge” you are doomed – those are the things you’ll need to go back for. Choose your poison as far as what day you should return on; unless you shop at 3 am, stores will be crowded no matter what. I, personally, avoid the Wednesday before. Black Friday shopping mayhem has nothing on The-Day-Before-Thanksgiving mayhem. In this article, they argue that Tuesday is the worst day.

A view of people's legs as they are stand in line at a store. One man is holding a shopping basket full of toilet paper.Stock up on non-food items: Again, there are lots of articles online that list the common items people forget. But there are so many things that do not appear on these lists that, if considered, can save the day. These include baby wipes (great for general Thanksgiving stickiness), dish soap, dog food, trash bags and Grandpa’s heart medication. Are you going elsewhere this year and would like to bring something besides a boring bottle of whatever? I don’t know any household that wouldn’t be grateful for some extra toilet paper or aluminum foil. And the bottle of whatever, of course.

Closeup of a pug dog with an exaggerated look of surprise as he looks at a bathroom scale. Caption reads, "That look when you get on the scale after eating Thanksgiving dinner".
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Take away the bathroom scale: I mean this both literally and figuratively. Thanksgiving is no time to subject anyone to the bathroom scale’s silent judging. Everyone knows that the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is fattening – the menu has been the same for how many years? Don’t let the joy of the gathering be sabotaged by food negativity. Just as you would steer people away from contentious political topics, do not allow comments on weight, healthy vs unhealthy food or even “I’ll start dieting tomorrow”. Likewise, do not push food on anyone. Let Aunt Sophie do her own calorie-counting, food-averse thing all by herself. Without a bathroom scale to validate her worst fears. I agree wholeheartedly with what this man has to say about this subject; I wish I had his humor-writing skills. And the subtitle is the best of 2019.

A table full of traditional Thanksgiving food and a bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey.Plan to remember: Above all else (yes, even the food) Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for the people in our lives. Plan to acknowledge those that will not be at your table this year. I lost someone very dear to me this past week, and you can be sure he will be at our table in spirit. But, remembering is not just for those who’ve passed. Is there someone who just plain can’t make it? A doctor on duty? A Marine deployed overseas? A student who can’t afford to travel? Remember them: add something to the meal or day that he/she particularly liked (Carmen’s favorite pie); root for his/her team (especially satisfying  if it annoys your brother John); put on that parade while you’re stuffing the bird – Grandma always liked to watch it. Sometime on Thursday, no matter how disgusting I find it to be, we will be drinking some Jack Daniels in remembrance of Dave. Because he liked it.

This is a turkey dancing as gravy is poured over it.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.                                                   

Submitted by Pam             

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