Ah, the holidays!

I have a story to tell you, but I’m not quite sure where to start.

Let’s try it this way:

Last year, my husband’s family agreed to let me have a go at hosting Thanksgiving. I was SO excited. I live very far away from my own family, and we do holidays BIG  – mostly because there are sooooo many of us. And even though I’d never had anything less than a lovely, fun time with my California family, I was looking forward to doing the things that my Wisconsin family does.

Oh, maybe I should mention that I’d never, ever, in my entire life, hosted such an important holiday get together. Nor, as I’m sure you probably guessed, had I ever cooked a turkey. Nor had I ever made any meal more complicated than burgers and hot dogs on the grill for that many people. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Now, no matter where I eat my Thanksgiving meal, I always get to make the dessert. Usually it’s pumpkin pie, but I’ve occasionally gone a bit fancy and made pumpkin cheesecake, or pecan pie, or something a bit daring. I’ve made dozens, if not nearly 100 pumpkin pies in my lifetime. And they’ve always been… well, good. Pumpkin-pie-y. Last year, not so much. Can you believe I forgot to put the sugar in?

Then there’s the fact that, even though I’d made broth from the turkey pieces that don’t normally get eaten (they’re put in an easy-to-toss-in-the-trash bag, stuffed inside the turkey – that was my first clue that they were extraneous), I forgot to use it for both the stuffing and the gravy, opting instead to use several cans of chicken broth.

And the fact that I spent all freakin’ day in the kitchen, on my feet, trying to stay on schedule, and still had a bizillion preparation dishes to wash when we were finished eating. I think I may have lain down on the couch as soon as the food was put away and given up, so tired and sore were my lower extremeties.

All in all, I’d say that last Thanksgiving was a mess. A meal that I look forward to all year, ruined. By me. I would not be exaggerating if I said I was concerned that my lovely in-laws hated me, and would never come to my house for any dinner, much less an important one, ever again.

So, imagine my surprise when I asked my sister-in-law what the plan was for Thanks giving this year, and she said, “I vote for your house.”

They don’t hate me! Not only that, but I’m getting a second chance!!

I’ve never been so excited.

Luckily, I’d already made arrangements at work to have this week off. On Saturday, I wrote out the menu, then spoke with various family members to assign side dishes, and made a schedule outlining the best, most efficient use of my time in order to realize my dream of the perfect Thanksgiving.

And so, today I began my Thanksgiving week journey. It began early (for a non-work day, anyway) with the shuffling of children between my house and their father’s, then off to Ikea to remedy one of the problems from last year – not enough serving dishes. When I arrived home, I looked for my master plan so I could put little post-its in each of the dishes so I’d remember what I planned to put in them (this is a major problem for me; please don’t laugh at my incompetence!). Alas, the master plan had disappeared. This resulted in a frantic search of every room I’d entered that morning, plus the ones I hadn’t; a call to Sami to see if she picked it up when she grabbed her computer from the car; the archaeologic-style sifting through of the several tons of junk which have taken up permanent residence in my little car – all to no avail. My plan is gone.

I tried to recreate it, but I think I’ve forgotten something. I could be because this time I typed in on the computer, rather than writing it longhand on a sheet of paper, then doodling all over the blank spots. I also tried to re-create my schedule, which had, in addition to when I was going to prepare which dishes, a list of other housekeeping-type stuff I needed to do when (for instance, cleaning the living room is one of the last things I’ll do, because it gets messy so quickly). I think I got everything, but that only makes me more sure that I’ve forgotten something important.

For right now, I know that I have to make at least one more trip to the grocery store, as I forgot to buy bread and celery for the stuffing. But I also know that the turkey is in the ‘fridge, I have my grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe (which my mom swears by, but somehow I’ve never used), and my California family is, if nothing else, forgiving and patient. For that, I am thankful.

Now, if only I could find my master plan. I’d really feel so much better.


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