To Give Thanks, Or Not?
[image deleted] Something’s about to happen, guys. I feel it in my wings. My horoscope today warned me to watch out, or I might lose my head!”
Tuesday Tales guest spot is moved to Wednesday for a reason this week. My special guest today is a funny lady, and a talented Young Adult author I met during a workshop offered by the delightful historical author, Eliza Knight last fall. A group of wonderful ladies all came together for her workshop on self editing your book in a month, and we stayed together afterwards to help, cheer, and boost each other’s writing efforts. I love all my Romance Divas! Please welcome Joelene Coleman, aka Harley Brooks, to the ranch today to gear us up for Thanksgiving in a way you’ve never viewed the foody holiday!
Wow! So this is the ranch? I’m honored to be counted among the special guests you’ve invited here. Thanks for letting me post my WACKY WEDNESDAY blog on your site.
This particular blog I’m dedicating to the “feast of foul”…Thanksgiving dinner. Why do we do it? Tradition? The need to gorge ourselves? Impress the in-laws? Or need an excuse to hold a sharp knife close to our wrists? My first Thanksgiving with my hubby was actually in a Denny’s restaurant. Someone else cooked, served, and cleaned up the mess, for a heck of a lot less money than I spend every year to subject myself to the torturous task. I’m re-thinking the “$5.99 special.”
I love sitcoms – back before Reality TV turned our brains mushy. (Anyone else tired of the heartbreaking drama poor deprived Kim Kardashian has to endure? My apologies to those who adore her and can’t afford therapy.) One of my favorites was Frasier – the “Lilith Thanksgiving.” The best line delivered was “…I have a turkey so undercooked, a skilled veterinarian could still save him…” Memories flash of my first time at trying to cook a turkey the way generations of my family had. We finally ran out of munchies and ate the pies while waiting for the main course. After that, I discovered the “cooking bag” – my holiday guardian angel!
Another favorite, WKRP in Cincinnati – the infamous “turkey drop.” Live turkeys were dropped from a helicopter for a publicity stunt and well, the best line explains it all…”As God is my witness, I really thought turkeys could fly…” Check out http://youtube.com for snippets.
I live in a house of men. My daughter lives at the other end of the state, leaving me to cook the traditional feast by myself. Every year I have great expectations that I will finally achieve the perfect Thanksgiving holiday. I’ve been in charge of the feast for over twenty years, and I’ve yet to serve it on time.
The minute the calendar flips to November 1st, my thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. I start planning the menu, clean the house (wondering if it would just be easier to buy new blinds than dust them) and make sure all the cutesy decorations no one notices, are out. The only decoration the “man team” cares about is that the tablecloth be plaid. They hold “napkin ring races” after dinner and the criss-cross pattern serves as “point markers.”
I picture myself getting up early Thanksgiving morning, welcoming the sunrise with a cup of coffee. I set the table, arrange the centerpiece, and prepare the turkey. Of course everything will go smoothly…the side dishes will all be ready at the same time. The gravy will be the perfect consistency, and “football” won’t interrupt my magic moment. Oh, and I’m also dressed in a stunning holiday outfit and wearing high heels (now we’re talking “fantasy”).
Here’s my “reality show.” I do get one, maybe two cups of coffee in me before the clock starts racing against me. I start with the turkey. I rub my foul friend with butter, apply the seasonings, and then…attempt to put him in the cooking bag…alone. You see, the captain of the “man team” knows his help could be used in the kitchen, so he fakes a coma until he’s sure the turkey is actually in the oven. I’m balancing 23 pounds on my wrist (which as I get older, could snap) while fighting with the plastic. I swear the turkey spreads his wings at the last minute to avoid going inside.
As the day progresses, things slowly get out of control. The “man team” starts circling, waiting for the hors d’oeuvres to be set out. Shrimp rings last approximately 5 minutes. The seven layer dip looks like a murder scene within seconds, and deviled eggs are literally inhaled like oysters on the half shell. Meanwhile, I’m lucky to pop an olive in my mouth as I work feverishly to have dinner ready within 30 minutes of when I told guests.
Of course, all the timers go off at the same time, which causes the captain of the “man team” to disappear. By now, the 23 pound turkey has doubled in weight with all the juices. The family room is filled with testosterone and a football game playing loudly. I find hubby hiding in the garage. I always seek him, holding the carving knife. One wrong word, and I’m changing him from a rooster to a hen.
Together, we gingerly slide the turkey onto the platter. One year, we held the bag at too high of an angle and the turkey overshot the platter and landed on the floor. I immediately pictured my husband without a head. He quickly scooped up the escapee and cleaned it off with paper towels. Luckily, it wasn’t a rollover accident. No one saw the mishap or heard me exercise my right to freedom of speech, thanks to a “touchdown.” I was mortified and reminded my husband that Lorena Bobbitt was my hero, so he better not cut any meat off close to the bottom. He complied, and our guests were never the wiser.
I’m also lucky to get a toothbrush in my mouth and out of my pajamas before company arrives. Most of the time, I’m zipping my pants on the way to answering the door, opening it with a wide smile, oozing the illusion of “calm and collect.” Inside, I’m praying my shirt isn’t on backwards, let alone inside out, and that they’ll never notice the constant twitching above my left eye. Hair? Pulled back. Make-up? Possibly still yesterday’s. Bra? Optional (not by choice – by brain fart). From this point on, whatever isn’t done, never existed in the first place.
I figure it takes less than an hour to devour ten hours worth of preparation. By the time everyone finally leaves, the kitchen and dining room resemble a war zone. Hubby, fond of certain appendages, helps dry the dishes that don’t fit in the dishwasher and snuggles with me on the couch. I’m usually asleep before the first log on the fire burns out, and just as the feeling is starting to come back into my legs and feet, the alarm goes off. It’s Black Friday. Time to shop!
So why do I put myself through all the fanfare, spend the money, and pack on the pounds for one day? Because for one glorious moment, I have my family and friends surrounding me, and when we go around the table naming the things we’re thankful for, I’m lovingly acknowledged by my “man team.” Traditions are important. They keep our lives balanced in a very rocky world. Yeah, they can be a pain in the ass, but in the end, they’re worth every memory.
Thanks again Calisa for letting me share a page from my wacky life on your site.
If you feel so inclined, you can check out Joelene’s Wacky Wednesdays each week on her blog http://www.jcolemanauthor.blogspot.com/ I promise you won’t waste your time!
*Chokes down the final hiccoughs * Thank you for that laughable enjoyable recount of what this holiday truly means, Joelene. I could tell about my own, but then we wouldn’t have this great chance to visit with my lovely lady friend! Yeah, I realize how that sounds- but you heard her talk about her “man team” and you’ve read some of my work and the men in it- so you know I don’t swing that way. Lol
I hope you’ll all take a moment to share some of your own Thanksgiving memories with us before you wander off to more important stuff.
Be sure to come back next Tuesday to meet another of my Divas and Carina Press author, Ruth A. Casie, as she shares her debut novel, Knight of Runes. Trust me, you DO NOT want to miss that one!