I've got trouble with a Capital "T". And it's not the kind that rhymes with P. No, it's the T that rhymes with key. As in tur-key. Thanksgiving turkey.
As in, I haven't started cooking yet. And there's a hard deadline. Tomorrow!
I'm a relative newcomer to the family Thanksgiving table. It's not that my family didn't celebrate America's favorite holiday. We did. But my mom, tired, I guess, from cooking for all of the Jewish holidays that typically fall in September and October, was finished by the November feast. So, our family tradition centered on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York (chilly but magical) and dinner with close family friends in a real restaurant. Because we rarely ate out in restaurants, let alone "fancy" restaurants (it was the 1970's, after all), this was a huge treat! For the kids and the parents. (Except, of course, for the one year that the chef quit and we were not feeling thankful when our food had not arrived more than three hours after our order.) I still think that's the way to go.
But my husband's family takes their Newport, Rhode Island to Newport News, Virginia (not too far from Colonial Williamsburg), and spend Thanksgiving weekend eating, reminiscing, and laughing. Then eating some more. I knew that our relationship had serious potential when my then-boyfriend, now-husband invited me to Thanksgiving dinner. Now, every year, I look forward to the gathering.traditions seriously. They gather each year up and down the East Coast, from
Since I've joined the family,though, we've only hosted Thanksgiving once, back in 2004 when we only had one kid. And then, I cooked for weeks before and filled the freezer with soups, muffins, and sauces. This year, for some reason, my plan to cook early went off the rails. (Well, I know why. Two kids, two big projects, one illness, this blog. A recipe for procrastination and delay.)
So, now its our turn, and like the turkey, my time is up.
It's not that I haven't done anything at all. I've ordered my turkey. Free range. (But not organic or brined. Did I make a mistake?) And I've narrowed down the recipes. And shopped for all but the freshest (and forgotten) ingredients. And baked a few pie crusts. (No fillings, yet, though.) Mostly, though, I've prepared for Thanksgiving by reading glossy food magazines, including the final issue of Gourmet. I've wasted time envying the impossibly-perfect looking families eating beautifully-prepared food in impeccably-decorated homes. (See, for example, page 148 of Martha Stewart's November Living magazine.)
I know that I could outsource some of the holiday. There are many yummy-sounding options from the numerous food purveyors around town. And some of them are bound to be tastier than my concoctions. But that doesn't seem right. I'm all or nothing here. If I'm not dining out, I'm not taking out either. I may, though, have to discard my dream of serving freshly-baked bread and creating table cards for each guest with preserved maple leaves and glitter glue.
So, I'm doing what any busy working mom with would do with the turkey-day clock ticking down. I'm taking the day off and cooking from morning to night. (I may take a few Blackberry breaks to check in with the office, but I'm hopeful that it will be a quiet day.) Fortunately, my sister-in-law, who is a wonderful cook, arrived last night ready to serve as my sous-chef. Given her culinary talents, I might even promote her to head chef. I know we'll have fun cooking together and sharing the results with the rest of the family the next day. And, once the turkey's done tomorrow, relaxing at the dinner table and savoring not only the food but my family and all of our blessings. After all,Thanksgiving is really about being grateful for what you have. And my culinary trouble is only temporary.
Here are a few Thanksgiving tips for busy working moms:
1. Dine out! (Easier said than done, but, as I said before, I still think this is the way to go.)
2. Take out! (With all the wonderful, "home-cooked" options out there, why cook everything yourself? Yes, this gets filed in the "Do as I say but not as I do" category.")
3. Work out! (This is not about exercise although I could certainly benefit. No, its about putting work and other obligations out of your mind and focusing on the task at hand. For me, today, cooking. And blogging.)
4. Time out! (Take the time on Thanksgiving to breathe deeply, laugh, and feel grateful.)
Photo via alasam on flickr.com