My husband does all the work of preparing the big meals on the big holidays. Even the shopping, you guys. I love his ass so much for that. Until I became an adult and had to shop for, buy, make fridge room for, prep, chop, stir, whisk, simmer, baste, and roast a holiday meal – I had no idea just how much work went into Thanksgiving dinner. And given that the whole holiday has evolved from and revolves around the meal itself, I find it distressing and ironic that one of the following five things will usually happen.
1. The ill-timed nap
Someone will fall asleep 5 minutes before the turkey hits the table. It’s inevitable. Then you’re faced with the following choice: let them sleep or wake them up. If you let the kid sleep through dinner, then it’s not officially a “real” family dinner because not everyone is at the table. But if you wake them up, it could lead to…
2. The holiday melt-down
If you insist on waking up a 3 year old who wants to be asleep, guess what’s going to happen? There will be tears and yelling and mucous streaming and maybe that thing where you try to pick them up and suddenly they go limp and somehow increase their body mass by 400%, leading to a thrown out back and a turkey you can't lift out of the oven. But let’s be honest, kids aren’t the only ones who have melt downs. I used to suffer from Griswold Syndrome, where my ineffectual pursuit of the perfect family holiday would result in getting my B on and being truly lovely to be around. And then there's the tantrum that invariably happens when you find you didn't buy some critical ingredient, and every store is closed even though all of America is cooking.
3. This tastes weird
Imagine spending 10 hours cooking a meal, then serving something to a group of people whose duty it is to praise the food and the effort, no matter what it tastes like. Little kids don’t get that. They just know what they like. That citrus cranberry relish may be good enough for Julia Child herself, but a 5 year old is just going to see that’s it not macaroni and cheese. And most will comment on that. They will also praise that which they like the best. “These rolls are really good. They’re from the freezer, right? I could eat ten of these.”
4. Something bathroom-related
One of two things may happen here. Someone small will really need to go to the bathroom and decide not to go, resulting in some covert sniffing followed by a conversation that includes the sentence: “Does anyone know where that smell is coming from?” The other option is the opposite. Someone will decide to hop up and use the bathroom likes it’s their damn job at least ten times during the meal. Each trip will be punctuated by cries of: “I have to pee!” or “Momma! Wipe my bottom!” or “There’s something on the floor in here!”
5. Speed eating so they can go watch TV
For some reason, on Thanksgiving, the TV seems to be on for a good chunk of the day. It starts with the parade in the morning, followed by an old movie or some holiday specials, and then of course… football. So while I’d like to say this is just a kid thing, I’d be lying. While the smaller ones may run for the TV in order to take control of the remote from the grown-ups for a few fleeting moments, the adults may do it, too, sensing an imminent touchdown and scarfing down their dinners in the hopes of seeing it happen.
All these things happen and you know what? It’s cool. Kids are supposed to be kids, and I’ve learned the hard way that nothing is perfect or ever goes as planned. What I’m looking for is a moment, even if it’s brief, where we’re all together and on the same page. We have food – we are so lucky. We are warm inside on a cold day – so many are not. We are together - isn’t that awesome?! We’re grateful for it all. That one moment makes the day a success for me. And it makes it a lot easier to giggle when I have to ask where that smell is coming from.
The awesome people at Sweet Relish are working with us to help moms in need this holiday season. They will donate $1 in gift cards for every person who joins their site and follows me (up to $5,000!!). If you're too busy or too broke to help to a family in need this year, here is one really quick and easy way to help. It only takes a minute and is really useful and fun.
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