Each year, the day after Thanksgiving, I make a series of peeved pledges. I will not cook another Thanksgiving dinner, decorate a table, or wash dishes again.
My patient spouse listens and always agrees that next Thanksgiving will be different.
He promises that our adult children will help set the table, cook, and clean up. And, when dinner is over, they will honor my culinary skills and original pilgrimesque table décor with a toast.
He doesn’t promise the last part but knows that such a toast would validate my anal-retentive, almost militaristic approach to preparing for the feast. Ultimately, I will feel appreciated.
In a post-Turkey Day tantrum brought on by exhaustion and bloating from too much green bean casserole last Nov. 27, I decided that this Nov. 25, my husband and I would be on vacation for the holiday. The kids would have to fend for themselves. I had basted my last breast.
To prep for the fowl escape, I researched Caribbean destinations in November.
Unfortunately, most websites warned that it’s hurricane season. And the vision of a swirling white cloud reminded me of whipped cream and apple pie, one of my Thanksgiving specialties. I softened like a vat of overdone candied yams. Who would make the handmade leaf place cards, personalized glitter ornaments, and Fortune cookie messages for the table?
With full-time jobs, how could the kids get the table set the requisite three days before kickoff of the Cowboys game?
Who would make the gluten free dressing, squash soufflé, and three specialty cranberry cocktails to compliment the Brie cranberry appetizer tartlets? The holiday would be a complete disaster without me. I had to stay to save our family traditions.
Oddly, also in that moment, I engaged in some self-reflection. The kids really do try to help, but the fact is that I am the Kim Jong-Un of holidays; it’s my way or nuclear war. So, in a self-reflective conciliatory move that felt like the slow expulsion of air from a balloon, I decided I will get the kids more involved. This year, I will let them clean up.