There's a learning curve for everything, even cooking, and I was pretty far left of center when I undertook preparing my first Thanksgiving meal for my family. But really, how bad could it be? I'd watched my mother do it 100 times.
It was my first year of college in Athens, Ga., and the whole family drove down. I crammed my divorced parents, high-school aged brother and his girlfriend into a one-bedroom apartment with myself and two cats.
The day actually began the night before when everyone had a little too much holiday cheer. Chalk it up to the stress of parents who haven't lived together for the last two years sharing the same 400 square feet for a weekend and two grown children with no idea how to handle the situation.
At 6 a.m.
on Thanksgiving morning, I groaned and turned over in the sleeping bag upon hearing my mother busily cutting apples in the kitchen. Did we really need pies? And even if we did, does it entail that much banging to make them?
I finally forced my throbbing head through my kimono and shuffled into the kitchen to take over the rest of the meal, and that's when things began to fall apart.
A piece of advice: Never reach across a hot stovetop in kimono sleeves. They have a terrible tendency to burst into flame. And while the stench was bad, it did blend nicely with the aroma of burned boiled potatoes and metal, which left my future mashies a sad, mottled mess.
The turkey fared better. Does the 5-second rule apply to a 15-pound bird? I hope so. It took both my mom and I to wrestle it off the kitchen floor and back into the roasting pan perched on the open oven door while four hungry, hopeful cat eyes watched our every move.
I was in college, after all, so I guess I should look at that Thanksgiving as a learning experience. And what did I learn?
First, find hotel rooms for family in town, no matter the cost. Second, don't open the wine until you've put the turkey in the oven. Third, there's no shame in taking the family out for Thanksgiving.
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