Friday, November 27, 2009

thanksgiving 2009, part one: hitches + lists

One of the most fun things to show people on Thanksgiving is my to-do list.

By the beginning of the week, I always have a day-by-day list of things to complete (from hitting certain stores to cleaning particular rooms) up to Wednesday night, and then a down-to-the-half-hour to-do leading to dinnertime on Thursday. This year was no exception.

Except, of course, that the plan was totally derailed by 2 p.m.

But first: the morning. My alarm sounded at 6 a.m. I was scheduled to bake corn cakes, fill profiteroles and cut potatoes before the Turkey Trot, but when I opened my eyes I could barely move. While I’d had only four hours of sleep, it was the standing for 20 hours that really made me hurt. My knees, my feet, my back throbbed and swelled. Run? Really?

It took me a good hour of five-minutes snoozes (mostly because Neil was ready to kill me) to slump out of bed. I didn’t bake, fill or cut anything. I just got dressed, picked up my pops and hit the Turkey Trot with two of my favorite boys (read about the race).

We made it home on schedule, and I had most of the appetizers on the table by the time Neil’s family showed at 2:30 p.m. Then the time warp happened. Somehow 4 p.m. arrived, and I was just getting around to the prosciutto risotto!

I kept everyone really well fed with the crab dip, profiteroles, spinach-and-tofu dumplings, bruschetta and Jessica’s olive dip, followed by my mom’s chicken dumpling soup. But the whole turkey was delivered shortly before 4 p.m. and most of the sides were ready and waiting.

Sure, from an appetite perspective turkeys going long wasn’t bad. Everyone had been eating a while. But I could feel impatience building. Instead of seeing me, they imagined an old-style cartoonish roasted turkey bouncing around the kitchen. It’s my annual serve-late plan to trick Neil’s family into hanging out, spending quality time.

But this year’s two hours might have been too much.

Little excitement greeted the meal at the table. When the 3-4 talkers weren’t sitting, the room fell silent. No one really ooh’ed or ahh’ed anything.

There’s a huge learning curve to scale when catering to two very different audiences. How can I create a single event for one crowd that likes to mingle and another that eats and goes? What do I serve when things I think are “normal” are outside another’s box? Where’s the happy medium that won’t make me feel like I’m overwhelmed by an underwhelming occasion?

Neil highlighted a good point today: I made shiitake-seeduction bread stuffing; his brother asked where the Stove Top was. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Perhaps year three will be the charm.