If I were a boy….
I wonder what it’s like to be a man at Thanksgiving. For the man in this house, basically Thanksgiving starts when you get sent to the store on Thursday morning to buy another dozen eggs and a can of sweetened condensed milk. It’s takes you 2 hours because who wants to hurry home to that mad house? When you finally do arrive with the eggs, a bunch of snack foods, and a can of evaporated milk (“I said SWEETENED CONDENSED! No, it NOT the same thing!”), and an empty bag from Five Guys–because who eats lunch at 2pm?–all you have to do is keep an eye on the kids until dinner is ready. Of course, you don’t actually keep an eye on them because Todd and Steven are over and there’s an Xbox in the room. But when you do get called over to stop one of them from eating the pumpkin cheesecake with his bare hands, you’ll express your extreme displeasure at his behavior. Kids these days.
For the women it’s much different. Thanksgiving starts in early November when you decorate the house, decide who’s hosting this year, and start nailing down the guest list. I looked through my Thanksgiving files from the past 11 years tonight. They are legion, and they are insane. They include:
- Three page shopping lists for Thanksgiving Week divided into the 5 stores that needed to be visited and further subdivided into the SECTIONS of the stores from which these items come because I shop in one pass through the store. None of this going back and forth between aisles.
- Email strings among the women coordinating times, places, menus, recipes, and decor. For example, the email string for 2011 among the three of us was 16 emails long with another 11 email string for my coop preschool group’s feast.
- Food prep schedules that start with one or two items on Monday (today) and culminate in a itinerary for Thursday that begins at 6am and has notes for times like “12:25 deglaze pan, 12:32 rice potatoes”. This isn’t just me is it? The first Thanksgiving I cooked for 16 people in 2003, the potatoes were cold. I never made that mistake again. If you can’t plan, you shouldn’t cook.
- Pinterest boards of thanksgiving tables and “to buy” lists to implement them.
- 8 sets of “Thanksgiving placecards 2008” “Thanksgiving placecards 2013” files of increasing complexity in Microsoft Word
- An elaborate set of riddle-clues for a scavenger hunt all over Palo Alto for the non-essential personel to enjoy while I rice the potatoes at 12:32.
- My Clean Up Checklist! Put away, throw away, load, wash. Truer words were never spoken.
Two of those years there are no lists and minimal email strings because we all went to Founding Farmers in DC and Gadsby’s Tavern in Old Town Alexandria. I’d like to say those were the best years, but they really weren’t. I usually love Founding Farmers, but they definitely had second string staff on for the holiday making horribly over-saged stuffing. And while the hammered dulcimer was nice at Gadsby’s Tavern, the food was middling at best, and the kids hated being on restaurant behavior for that long.
Which is why my motto is “If you want something done right, make a buttload of lists, do it yourself, and complain about it on your blog.”
Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted root vegetables, acorn squash wedges with cilantro-chile vinaigrette, roasted sweet potatoes with lime and chives, pumpkin ravioli with herbed cream sauce, fettucini with butternut squash