The Setting: Seattle, WA
Time: Thanksgiving, Present Day
The Scene: A nice couple are hosting Thanksgiving for nine of their closest friends. The girl, a vegetarian in her 40’s, is enjoying the beautiful fall morning while walking her dog, Puppy. She calls her mother to wish her a happy Thanksgiving.
GIRL: Hi, Mommy! Happy Thanksgiving!
MOM: Where are you? It sounds loud! Is that your oven???
GIRL: I’m taking a walk.
MOM: WHO IS WATCHING THE TURKEY?
GIRL: Watching the turkey do what?
MOM: YOU NEED TO BASTE THAT BIRD! BASTE THAT BIRD RIGHT NOW! DO NOT LET THAT BIRD BURN!
GIRL: It’s not even in the oven!
MOM: IT’S NOT IN THE OVEN??????????? WHY IS IT NOT IN THE OVEN????? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?
GIRL: We’re not eating for seven hours!
MOM: THAT IS NOT ENOUGH TIME! YOU ARE RUINING THANKSGIVING!
GIRL: I have an oven bag!
MOM: JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A VEGAN DOESN’T MEAN YOUR FRIENDS DON’T EXPECT TO EAT TURKEY ON THANKSGIVING!
GIRL: I’m vegetarian, not vegan! They will have turkey! The butcher said–
GIRL: I HAVE AN OVEN BAG!
MOM: GO HOME!!! GO HOME RIGHT NOW AND FIX THIS!
If you have a mom who used to/currently hosts Thanksgiving and you are hosting Thanksgiving, this probably sounds familiar. Thanksgiving was my mom’s jam and if she was going to do up the whole damn shebang from (literally) soup to nuts, for anywhere from 25-693 people then so must we all. It was a big production. Like several god damn days worth of producing.
I did not like Thanksgiving. Don’t get me wrong– I loved the food. I just didn’t love the lead up.
Polish the damn silver!
Get the good dishes out!
Get the leaf for the table!
Get another leaf for the table!
Peel 286 potatoes and then peel 925 more BECAUSE WE NEED ALL THE POTATOES!
Cut 837 celery stalks!
CLEAN, MOTHER ‘EFFERS, CLEAN!
Set the table!
Now set the table with the knives ON THE CORRECT SIDE!
Get the serving dishes!
DO NOT TOUCH THE DISHES!
Stash 83 pies in the laundry room! NO ONE TOUCH THE DAMN PIES! Don’t even look at the pies!
ARE YOU WATCHING A PARADE??? REALLY? TODAY OF ALL GOD DAMN DAYS????
It was madness! Madness, I tell you! My mom did all the food! There was no “bring a dish to share.” There was no order up some pies from Costco. THERE WAS NO COSTCO! If my mom was around for the first Thanksgiving there would be NO MORE THANKSGIVINGS. The pilgrims would have been like, “Well, that sucked. Great food, but holy stress, man! Next year it’s Cracker Barrel.”
And then there were the vegetables and all the apps.That celery wasn’t going to cut itself! My mom had cut all the vegetables by hand. THERE WERE NO PRE-CUT, PRE-WASHED VEGETABLES. (I would have helped, but my parents didn’t let me use sharp objects until I was twenty-seven years old.)
And then there was the turkey. Jesus God let’s talk turkey. The biggest turkey had to be purchased (months? years?) in advance. A giant, frozen ball of giblets and neck bones soon-to-be-shoved full of twenty-eight pounds of stuffing and salmonella. (They also didn’t have the internet and Alton Brown to warn you about pre-stuffing your turkey.)
The turkey was the star of the show, but it was also the biggest asshole. What a freakin’ diva that thing was. Was there ever a turkey shortage in the past 4 decades? Because it felt like just getting one home and into the freezer was a major coup. And then getting it out of the freezer and into the refrigerator for it to properly thaw had to happen at the EXACT RIGHT MOMENT or you’d be eating ice cold bird or worse– Chinese food BECAUSE YOU TOTALLY RUINED THANKSGIVING! Like me! Yes, the thawing the turkey was a big, freakin’ deal. You had to subtract thirty-eight hours from when you wanted it on your table, divide it by nineteen, multiply it by eleven, half it six times, and then add four minutes for every pound of human flesh that would be surrounding your Thanksgiving table.
I asked my mom if they didn’t have fresh turkeys back in the day. I mean, what the hell? Wouldn’t that have alleviated all this stress?“
“EW! That would be like getting your eggs from a farmer! Too god damn fresh!”
I feel you, mom and moms of the 70’s and 80’s. Your lazy Gen X’er children were no good. You had to chop vegetables by hand. You didn’t have Bob Evan’s mashed potatoes to toss in a crockpot with a brick of cream cheese and pretend they were homemade. (As if!) Turns out all that damn silver we had to polish wasn’t even real.
The Thanksgiving nonsense is behind my mom. Now she’s an armchair sous chef, riddled with anxiety at the thought of fresh turkeys baking in oven bags for two hours and potluck dinner parties.
“Not my circus, not my monkeys,” she told me.
But don’t feel bad for my mom. She may have baked her own pie crusts and shelled almonds by hand, but did she ever split her pants halfway through dinner? Nope. Did I? Yep. I am a Thanksgiving cliche. Ripped ’em somewhere between green bean casserole and Butterfinger Brownie Cupcake.
Don’t ever feel bad for a vegetarian on Thanksgiving.