Wind in my face—with a fork in each hand—I’m racing toward Thanksgiving. It’s almost here, so I’m ramping up the preparations and I’m going harder than I’ve ever gone before.
“Oh! It is onnn,” I tell Nate as I make my grocery list.
“I really hate to ask, but what are you talking about?”
“Thanksgiving! I have to shop like a . . . like just a giant wall of wind. . . and then I have to clean the house and then do a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the table.”
“A dress rehearsal for the table?”
“Yeah. It’s something new I’ve invented just for this year.”
Nate calmly nods his head and drinks some coffee. Then, I grab my keys, hop in the car, and “floor it” all the way to the grocery store. My cart may have two wonky wheels and I’ve certainly tested the limits of how many items should go safely into one shopping cart, but I’ve managed to grab everything on my list in just under an hour. I’ve forgotten the turkey on purpose because it’s a family tradition for Nate, Alex, and me to go to a different store and select one.
Beyond the shopping, here’s my Count Down to Turkey Day List:
- Find a Rockette’s Kick-Line instructional video on YouTube. Every Thanksgiving I inevitably pull an inner thigh muscle when I have a sip or two of beer, watch the Macy’s Parade on TV, and jump into the action when the Rockettes come into view. (I have been known to suddenly shout, “I could have been a Rockette!”) Not this year. I’m training for it. I’m training hard. I’m starting today (Saturday). By Thursday, I’ll be ready. I just know it.
- Get the turkey. This year, Nate, Alex, and I went to Haggen, which is a dangerous place to go because there are so many beautiful things in Haggen besides the turkeys.
Me: Hey, do you think I should set out an appetizer of cheese this year?
Nate: Cheese! Oh, yes! There’s a wonderful selection of cheeses here.
(Nate and Alex gobble down bites of cheese samples while I get ideas for “veggie tray” designs.)
Twenty minutes later: We have two different aged cheeses, crystalized ginger, fresh garlic, some onions because I can’t remember if I have them or not, and a turkey. So no, we didn’t just get a turkey. We may have been too distracted, which could set me behind on my preparations, but that just means I’ll have to dig deep and go harder, which brings me to number three below:
- Put the table through a dress rehearsal. This year, I put all of the plates, the table runner, the decorations, napkins, glasses, and cutlery onto the table. Then, I arranged and re-arranged everything at least ten times. I also played with the lighting. When I finally liked what I had done, I snapped a picture so that I could re-create the table without any problems on Thanksgiving Day. I know what you’re thinking: How did you come up with such a useful time-saver? I honestly hadn’t thought of it until this year, so I’m sharing it with you. You are welcome!
- Buy birthday cards for my younger brother and sister. This year, their birthday is the day after Thanksgiving—just as it was the year they were born (1979). Mom had Thanksgiving turkey; then she gave birth, which I believe is a metaphor for how many of us feel the day after Thanksgiving.
- Clean the house, with the help of the rest of the family, except for SeaTac the cat, who won’t move when we want to vacuum the couch.
- The day before: Make the rolls and the mashed potatoes. The secret to my mashed potatoes is plenty of freshly ground black pepper and chicken broth, which adds a rich flavor, without a lot of fat.
- Then, I make the fruit gelatin mold and the cranberry sauce from recipes from Cooking Light’s November 2003 edition.
- The night before: Nate makes the pumpkin pie from a Betty Crocker cookbook. (Nate does a fabulous job. He could probably “side-hustle” his way into homes all over the U.S. and cook pumpkin pies from my Betty Crocker cookbook. I could come too and perform a Rockette’s type show while the pies bake. Oh, the possibilities!)
- Thanksgiving morning: Nate gets the turkey ready. Even though the turkey has been hanging out in our refrigerator since the latter half of the weekend as part of our food safety precautions, the turkey may still be frozen, so we have to give it water baths to let it defrost a bit before cooking.
- Put out the appetizers and kick up my heels when the Rockettes come on. (Wish me luck!)
- Set the table.
- Heat up the stuffing in the microwave. (I made homemade stuffing once and decided that the boxed stuff tasted better. At least, it tasted better in my kitchen. In your kitchen, the homemade version might be better, so I’m inviting myself over to your house next year for Thanksgiving. We could do the kick line together when the Macy’s Parade is on!)
- Count our many, many blessings.
- Either grab an ice pack or buy a ticket to New York to audition for the Rockettes, depending on how my training goes.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!
Your Turn: What are your favorite preparations for Thanksgiving? What are your Thanksgiving short cuts? Do you make everything from scratch or do you buy mixes or items that are already made? (There is no shame in that, by the way!)