I love the holidays. All holidays. But I especially love Thanksgiving. I love having my family over and showing off my Martha Stewart-inspired dining room with pine cone place cards, Fall-themed centerpiece and table runner. I love the tradition of watching the Macy’s Day Parade, the kids watching with wide eyes at the size of the bird, before we stuff it with homemade, traditional bread stuffing. It’s pretty much the only day of the year, that everything, and I mean everything, is made from scratch. No pouch mashed potatoes, no canned gravy. This is a hard-core meal, people. Planned and prepped days in advance, from the peeling of the apples for the apple pie, to the savory butternut squash with glazed with butter and brown sugar.
But as much as I plan and prepare, something inevitably goes awry. One year after spending hours on the squash, getting it to absolute perfection, I carried it to the basement until it was time to serve. Stepping over the just-folded laundry, I tried to grab the refrigerator door handle, but got caught up on the carpet, and I tripped. I tripped hard. The butternut squash went airborne, landing all over the laundry, the floor, and breaking my pinky finger in the process.
Not a good day for butternut squash.
I’ve had issues with my desserts, lumps in my gravy and a few other recipe disasters, but last year we faced a completely unique situation.
My brother and his family were hosting their own Thanksgiving with all their extended family, so my Thanksgiving would be just my family and my folks. The morning of Thanksgiving, my mom thought it would be a good idea to put away her Thanksgiving decorations. Because you know…by the time she got home from dinner, Thanksgiving would be over, and the decorations needed to be put away. (Note to self: This is where I get it from) So there she was, in the attic. The morning of Thanksgiving.
And then she fell. Down the attic stairs, and according to her, she flew across the foyer, and landed a good 6 feet away, in the living room. Now unless she is Wonder Woman or has a secret flying capability that none of us are aware of, I don’t see how that is entirely possible. But I digress. She fell.
I got a call from my dad in the ER, explaining what happened. And instead of being concerned, I found myself mad. Like, really mad. It was Thanksgiving. I was cooking a feast. I drove immediately to the hospital and instead of asking if she was okay, if anything was broken, I told her that I’d spent days preparing the desserts, the squash, the carved-out pumpkin that would be filled with turnip. What was she thinking! Wait…What was I thinking?
I had become so crazy-stressed with planning the “perfect” Thanksgiving that I was singlehandedly ruining it for everyone. I was selfish and childish. I was ashamed.
What is it about the holidays that makes us crazy? So, my squash fell on the floor. I made another batch. So, my pie caved in the middle. It was still fantastic. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect around the holidays?
After dinner, I put together a plate of all my mom’s favorites and brought them to the hospital, served with a big, fat apology.
Because Thanksgiving isn’t about the décor or the meal. It’s not about the pine-cone place cards or the carved pumpkin. It’s a moment in time to reflect and be genuinely thankful for what you’ve been blessed with, for your family & friends, your health, your life.
This Thanksgiving I’ll prepare my traditional meal. I’ll chill the wine and heat the pie. I’ll sit across from my family and be thankful for another year.
And dad has been instructed to lock the attic.