By coincidence this is the heading on my hanging calendar for the month of November. There’s a picture of a wide-eyed girl in a tiara and fur — Mr. Thrilling bought me this calendar, and he laughs every time he walks into my office and sees it. I try not to take it personally.
I’m actually a very good cook. True, I only know how to cook about ten things off the top of my head, but I’ve got stacks of cookbooks (not to mention Food and Wine back issues ) and I’m good at improvising. And, more importantly, I can be content with Jell-O for dinner, especially if there’s whipcream and nuts to top it.
(I’m not sure why, but that last sentence seems to read more racy than I intended….)
So, yes, in answer to your question, Mr. Thrilling does 99.9 percent of the cooking around the old homestead.
It’s only around this time of year that I start to feel inadequate. The truth is, I never have enough time to do everything I need to do — I’ve always got my back against the wall of some deadline or another — but in the general course of things, I don’t mind. No, I still haven’t tried even one of the sauces in that French cookbook I bought three years ago, and I’ve never made a centerpiece out of pinecones and orange juice cans — I’m lucky if I can keep the bird feeders topped up and the garden watered. I’m happy with the trade-off. I get to write books — pretty good books, if I do say so myself — and someone else gets to be Martha Stewart. Or maybe Wonder Woman. I’m sure there’s some amazing chick writer out there who does it all.
(And I hate her with a burning passion. Her, and her perfectly tapered candles in their gleaming crystal candelabras…)
It just doesn’t look like a Christmas card around here. It doesn’t even look like a Thanksgiving e-card.
Anybody else feeling this pressure to perform? Is it a chick thing? I mean writing just isn’t your normal nine to five job. I know we’re all making trade-offs, giving up things in order to pursue this dream. And not all the sacrifices have to do with accepting that we can’t eat off our floors (unless our furniture gets repossessed) or that our Christmas puddings come in a tin.
And it’s not just ourselves making trade-offs; we’re asking it of our loved ones, simply by virtue of who and what we are.
So I guess as I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this week I need to add something to my list of many, many things to be grateful for. Namely Mr. Thrilling, the guy who has to cook the Thanksgiving feast.
Yeah, I feel a little inadequate, too. I told someone who asked the other day that my cooking specialty is microwaving vegetables. Which is true. I can get them to come out perfectly every time - no matter what vegetable. It’s a microwave mind meld thing.
So when we go to my mother’s house for thanksgiving, she makes the turkey and trimmings, I nuke the potatoes and green beans and buy a pie. It isn’t glamorous or rewarding, but it works.
by Liz on November 19th, 2007 at 7:48 am
I can cook. I make all sorts of stuff, and it all tastes pretty good (except for that time when teriyaki roast beef when halfway through I accidentally grabbed the BBQ sauce instead of the teriyaki). But Martha Stewart, I ain’t. My food tastes good, but it doesn’t no one would take a picture of it to put in a cookbook. My house is tidy, but I do have that protective layer of dust on the furniture, and a protective layer of cat hair on the carpet. I don’t feel inadequate, and neither should you. As long as everyone in the house is fed and happy, who gives a rip whether it’s ‘house beautiful’? =oD
And Thanksgiving dinner is Hubby’s job around here. Good thing, too. One thing I don’t have the patience for is turkey. Mine is usually pink in the middle, but his turns out awesome every time. It’s the only meal he makes all year, and he does it very well. Yay.
by B.E. Sanderson on November 19th, 2007 at 8:31 am
I apologize for the above errors. In my defense, it was a late night writing and an early Monday morning. ops:
by B.E. Sanderson on November 19th, 2007 at 8:37 am
My DH insisted we get a cabin in the mountains for Thanksgiving this year, with dinner at a restaurant. I tried not to take it personally, and he SAYS it’s so I don’t have to go to all the trouble when it’s just the four of us… still, it feels like he’s saying there’s something wrong with my cooking. Likely there is. I’m pretty good at microwaving vegetables, but I’m not a good cook by any stretch of the imagination. I have a handful of dishes I can cook well, and I’m not a bad baker, but I hate cooking big stuff. Getting everything to be done at the same time stresses me out, and then I get crabby, and I think that’s probably what he’s trying to avoid. Anyway, I don’t have to worry about it this year. Now all I need is a Roomba to vacuum the floors while we’re gone, and I’m all set…!
by JennieB on November 19th, 2007 at 9:01 am
Turkey, schmukey! I say we should eat whatever inspires gratitude & celebration. For years, Snazzy Husband and I made a huge lasagna w/ piles of good Italian sausage for Thanksgiving. And it doesn’t dry out or resist carving! It’s not as if the Pilgrims ate anything vaguely like a modern t-day spread, so I say we should have the culinary traditions we like that won’t make us crazy once a yr.
by Cynthia on November 19th, 2007 at 9:35 am
I’m one of those people who actually looks forward to all the cooking and eating–the whole spread. I love it. The only trick is timing it for after the Packers’ game. But, now that we have tivo, I can pause it when I have to baste the bird.
by judy larsen on November 19th, 2007 at 10:00 am
We always go to a family affair on Thanksgiving day, but I love to make the whole dinner spread on Friday for the immediate family. My LW (lovely wife) is lobbying to skip the Friday feast. Even though I cook, She hates cleaning the mess. This situation has yet to be resolved.
Jennie, don’t read too much into the Thanksgiving cabin idea. Us guys are direct. Likely DH just wants a break. Sounds like a great idea, I’d like to tag along.
FOr the record, my arms are sore. I wrestled with a rented carpet cleaner all weekend. They sure are heavy, bulky things to drag around. I think I hauled enough water to and from that beast to fill a swimming pool. BUT, the carpets look fabulous.
by Will Bereswill on November 19th, 2007 at 10:29 am
Liz, getting vegetables to come out perfectly from the microwave isn’t a “cooking specialty”! That’s a super power! You be proud of that one, girl!
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:12 am
Hey, B.E., I know you’re right. And the best thing is, Mr. Thrilling agrees with you. He himself thinks my time is better spent laboring over the hot laptop — although I do have to take a fair amount of razzing over the fact that he thinks he saved me from a diet of gingerale and peanuts.
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:14 am
Ooh, Thanksgiving in a restaurant. That might be good material for a story. It sort of reminds me of A Christmas Story, where they end up having dinner at a Chinese restaurant!
I know, the timing is the worst part of the Thanksgiving feast. All those little side dishes that have to be hot at the same exact minute the turkey is finished being carved.
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:17 am
Hey, Cynthia, that is absolutely a great idea. I’ve always wanted to cook one of those northwest feasts — salmon and shellfish, etc. But my family is VERY traditional. The sislings would never let me hear the end of it.
No, it’s herb-roasted turkey, cheese and bacon mashed potatoes, stuffing made with my mother’s recipe (clams, walnuts, water chestnuts, etc.) — and pies from Marie Callender.
Actually…in all honesty I’m getting hungry thinking about it….
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:20 am
Oh, Judy, why can’t we be sisters for a week or so every year? You’re probably the family treasure.
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:21 am
Ah, Will, you’ve hit on the REAL challenge of Thanksgiving — the deeeeeep cleaning. It’s not enough to remove the protective layers of dust and cat hair, you’ve got to tackle corners and upper shelves.
Not that anyone will be checking the tops of my ceiling fan blades, but yet…I feel the pressure (and the sting of detergent on my poor hands)!
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:23 am
Sadly, I must say that my mother and her relatives made me dread and practically despise holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. I always was such a production and the need to ‘be perfect’ when most of them didn’t like each other very much, made holidays into such an unpleasant experience that since they’ve passed on, I just go to my friend’s parents as a guest (although I do a lot of helping with clean-up to show my gratitude for the lovely meal). The fact that we have 5 dogs and a house that has been in the process of a whole house makeover for the past 12 years (with no resolution to it without a big lottery win), means our house will never even be explored as an option, and that is one of the things I give secret thanks for every day of the year. A part of me wishes I could have nice parties and such, but…well, trust me, it’s better the way it is.
by Kate Hathway on November 19th, 2007 at 12:01 pm
We stopped cooking for Thanksgiving years ago - instead we allocate around $200 for Santoni’s and just buy it. We all work, and it’s just too much of a PITA to do all that cooking - and since we always have company of one sort or another (including occasionally college friends we haven’t seen in 40 years just happen to find out where we live) we order a great meal, cook a few of the sides, make the coffee and then it’s katie bar the door = the kitchen table becomes a buffet table with lots of keep-warm appliances assuring that everything is the same temperature, and folks help themselves to whatever they want, as much as they want. Thd dining room table is made as large as possible, but folks can sit where they want (including in front of the goddamnteevee) and chat with whom they want to chat.
We have come to like this methoidology very much - particularly the part that lets us sleep in on Thanksviging Morning instead of turning the whole house into a sauna.
by Bob Rudolph on November 19th, 2007 at 1:27 pm
Judy, I’m with you—love cooking Thanksgiving.
But I like to keep it low key. Have the turkey etc ready in the early afternoon so that I can spend the rest of the day curled up on the couch eating and watching movies that I love.
by Tasha Alexander on November 19th, 2007 at 6:33 pm
He himself thinks my time is better spent laboring over the hot laptop
Good man! My husband has the same thought about me and housework. He’d rather see me typing than vacuuming. =o)
(This, of course, explains why the dust bunnies here are mounting a coup.)
by B.E. Sanderson on November 19th, 2007 at 8:47 pm
Well, Bob, that does sound rather nice — the snacking and nibbling all day in particular. When we were little and we went to my grandmother’s, she served dinner quite early, so by evening time we were all eating turkey sandwiches and pie — it was a lovely long day spent together — very nice. Now we eat so late that no one really has much room for turkey sandwiches until the next day. Not that there’s anything wrong with leftovers — that’s part of the fun.
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:00 pm
Tasha, movies have become part of our Thanksgiving tradition as well — good old movies that we all enjoy — and of course the quantities of wine, chocolates, Baileys, Kahlua, pie, etc. doesn’t hurt.
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:02 pm
(This, of course, explains why the dust bunnies here are mounting a coup.)
Of course in a perfect world, our heroes would actually take on the dust bunnies themselves — but that would have to be in some parallel universe.
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:05 pm
and that is one
of the things I give secret thanks for every day of the year.
Ah, Kate. Before I was married I was in the same fortunate position — and I never regretted it. There’s a lot to be said for the bachelor girl lifestyle.
I will say, having skivved off for so many years, I don’t mind the hullaballo of now taking my turn at providing the holiday feast — and it does ensure that at least the house gets one serious cleaning each year. Otherwise…I’m not sure it ever would.
by Diana Killian on November 19th, 2007 at 11:18 pm