Everyone loves the holidays—except for the work. And some even like the cooking part. Not anybody at my house, but I’ve heard they’re out there. So here are some solutions to the predicament that is Thanksgiving.
For purposes of this discussion I’ll refer to the non-orchestrator of this production as “the male.” No offense, but it’s often the case. In some homes they practice role reversal, but studies have proven…and, really, ladies, even if he does assume the chef’s role, you know that you’ll have to clean up the mess, so you might as well do dinner yourself and control the number of dirty pots, pans, and utensils.
Preparations. There are things that you may want your male to do, that you will want him to anticipate that you want him to do, that when you finally resort to verbalizing what these things are, he’ll look past you and say, “Sure…” and then not do them. Because activities that fall under the female’s definition of “helpful” are unnatural acts for many men. At this point, it’s ok to have a sip of wine—and offer him some when he finishes your list.
The guest list. Who came last year? If you can’t recall, it’s because you’ve repressed the memory. But your male will remember if it was your side of the family, because this time it will be his side. This can be played two ways. If you don’t want a crowd, leave the invitations to him. That solution has the potential to correct itself at the last minute, so you might as well just call everyone yourself. Although the grocery stores are open ’round the clock during the holidays, how lucky do you feel?
Staging the dinner. The table is just as important as the food and drink which will end up on, over, under, and around it. Prepare the house. This is where the male can be counted on because you cannot be trusted to navigate through his mountain of tools, car parts, and sporting equipment as you try to access the cubby hole in the garage that stores the good china, crystal, and plastic carpet covering. This will be his greatest contribution to the holiday dinner. As Moses parted the Red Sea, your male will lead you safely to the table settings. Praise him.
The menu. The possibilities are endless: Safeway does a complete take-out dinner, which, of course, requires the service of a cab driver to pick it up; Marie Callender’s frozen turkey dinners have an excellent cost-benefit ratio; but my favorite solution, the menu that looks like I actually spent time in the kitchen, features “personal turkeys,” those pre-cooked, heavenly-scented, rotisserie chickens from Costco.
This choice keeps you busily engaged in the kitchen putting lots of frilly little booties on legs, boiling water for Stove Top Dressing, opening cans of cranberry sauce, and removing cellophane from cheese platters while your guests marvel at how you spent the morning at Macy’s and could still whip Thanksgiving dinner together. True, a glistening, 23-pound roast turkey resting in the center of your holiday table would look festive, but all those personal turkeys take up way more room so that other traditional side dishes aren’t conspicuous by their absence. If your guests get suspicious (the hazard with this approach is that they may have been to Costco recently, themselves), confess that, yes, you did have some help, but you personally selected each item and paid for it with your own hands.
The Afterglow. You, maestro of this grand event, must delay your glow until after dinner because all this effort will be for naught if you can’t negotiate it to the table. No matter how much you’d love and deserve a beverage, you must postpone yours until the heavy lifting is done, until the last morsel is devoured, until the reminiscences trail off. It would be a shame if you slept through all the compliments you’ll certainly receive for producing a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner.
Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!