Two plus decades and several children ago, in my mid-20s with the energy of a jack rabbit who took lessons from Martha Stewart, we planned Thanksgiving Holiday in our new home with the whole Fam Damily. I was several years into my Bon Appetite monthly magazine subscription and sat down to plan Thanksgiving Dinner ahead of time to avoid the shopping rush.
After picking out the perfect Bon Appetite Thanksgiving dinner, I prepared to hit the store at O’Gawd Awful Early Saturday Morning Before Thanksgiving. The evening before OGAESMBT, I handed my husband the Bon Appetite magazine, with the pages earmarked and said, “Take a look at this and tell me if it’s ok.” In which he quickly replied (from looking at the front of the magazine), “It looks great!”
Off to shopping I went with my two year old in his footie pajamas, passing through the bakery aisle for donut holes and a coffee, stocked up and ready to begin the holiday preparations. It was barely 6 a.m.
Approximately 2 days before Thanksgiving Dinner, as I was starting my prep work, husband started thumbing through the same Bon Appetite magazine I had asked him to look at a week ago. He oohed and ahh’d about the turkey, oohed and ahh’d about the pumpkin soup with lobster and crème fraishe, oohed and ahh’d about the desserts picked out and suddenly got very quiet. After a lengthy pregnant pause…..
Husband: Where are the mashed potatoes?
Me: I am not serving mashed potatoes this year.
Me: I’m serving braised root vegetables. I asked you last week to look at the menu and let me know if it was good. You didn’t say anything, so this is what I am cooking.
Husband: (incredulous) WHAT??????????. We can’t NOT have mashed potatoes! Are you kidding?
Me: (calmly) I already finished my shopping and I am not going back to the store until at least the Sunday after the Thanksgiving madhouse. If you want to have mashed potatoes, you can brave the masses, go to the store and purchase them. You are also welcome to cook them as my proverbial plate is full.
Within an hour the phone lines were lit up. Husband calls his cousin,
Husband: Jaye Lynn is not serving mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.
Husband and Cousin call their mother’s, also known as the Olsvold (their maiden name) Grapevine.
Cousin/Husband: Mom, Jaye Lynn is not serving mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.
Olsvold Grapevine: What????
The Olsvold Grapevine kicks into action as they master the phone tree better than Lily Tomlin. This would be a great time to point out that my mother in law thought nothing of serving boiled potatoes, without gravy for their Christmas dinner of boiled lamb and was known to provide a lovely dinner of perfectly fresh cod, but not before it was soaked for days in lye.
Thanksgiving arrived and dinner was beautifully executed, staged to perfection. The braised root vegetables were perfectly cooked and definitely the Big White Elephant In the middle of the china, silver and crystal. Not one guest said a word about the lack of whipped white stuff on the table. Can I just say for a moment that no one went home hungry?
Over the years, I continued to break tradition. When Aaron was 5 and begged for a slice of pumpkin pie Thanksgiving morning, the same pie(s) that I made for our Thanksgiving dinner at the Outlaws, two pumpkin and two pecan. I looked into his big blue eyes and said, “Absolutely.” We cut into the pie, covered it in canned whipped cream (including a quick squirt straight into the mouth because that’s what you do). He even shared his pie with me. The look on my MILs face when I brought four pies to dinner, one with a slice missing, was one for the books. IT’S FAMILY. It’s not like we dug into it with our fingers or juto’d (loosely translated from Nepali as contaminated –pronounced like judo, but with a T) the fork. We always took home leftover pie at the end of the night. What’s a piece of pie? The only regret I had was that I didn’t do the same for all of my children.
Last year we celebrated on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, this year on Sunday. Having all of the kids in our house, laughing, joking, this year with the new addition of “Onion”the cat. We use John’s mom’s Thanksgiving recipe and it is another new tradition that I just love. Yes, I cut a piece of pie out before dinner – this year, not for Aaron, but for a friend. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
However way you celebrate your Thanksgiving – don’t sweat the small stuff. Raise your glass to the braised root vegetables, to a slice of morning before Thanksgiving pie, to an overcooked turkey. Go rogue. Live a little. Be kind. They are all memories in the making.