[Sca-cooks] My Big Fat Weird Thanksgiving

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu Nov 27 21:01:34 PST 2008

Hullo, the list!

For those who are hoping this isn't going to be my usual disjointed  
ramble, abandon ye all hope...

As some may remember from earlier posts, we opted to do the holiday  
thing with old friends, instead of our normal alternate years,  
alternate families thing. Something I can't explain just told us to  
arrange it that way. We snubbed everyone equally and just spent the  
day with the people we most felt like hanging out with. I prepared and  
brought with us the previously-discussed brisket, and found myself  
home early last night with not too much to do, and called my hostess  
to ask if she needed anything done. I offered to make a mince pie  
(having put up a dozen quarts of the stuff in jars a couple weeks ago)  
to eke out desserts, and she said she was a whole lot more than well- 
stocked in desserts; everyone and his brother were already making  
cakes and pies, no need, no room, and sleep is good.

She also sounded a little odd, possibly a bit stressed, which was  
natural enough, I thought, at the time.

When we arrived today, an hour before the time we had been instructed  
to show up for dinner -- I having assumed we'd want to throw the pan  
of brisket in the oven, for example, and generally make a pest of  
myself -- and our hostess still seemed a bit stressed, and a little  
unfocused. Things like the peeling of potatoes were being done, then  
put in pans of water and abandoned for hours because nobody  
_In_Charge_ thought to mention that potatoes don't cook themselves. I  
said (quickly reaching for the dial on the gas range), "Look, there's  
a fire under that pot! However did that happen? A miracle! The  
potatoes are cooking! Praise be!"

Those of you who know me, well, you know where this is going. Our  
hostess was obviously very distracted by something, and not only were  
things not getting done, but there were head-on car crashes as half- 
finished jobs competed for space. "Barbara, I see you have a pot of  
what looks like stock for gravy. Do you want me to make a roux to  
thicken it? Sure, no problem...you can still come back and do the  
gravy thing when you're ready..." [An hour later] "How about if I just  
make some gravy? You can go change your clothes, have a drink, sit  
down, Susan and I know where everything is, we'll be fine here."

Well, not to go into the gory details, but everything got done and  
everything was splendid, and I wasn't a wreck after the food went out  
-- I'm still recovering from some surgery myself, so my ability to  
stand and juggle full 60-quart stockpots for 16 hours straight without  
a break is not what it used to be, but I'm getting closer to that than  
I've been for a few years now. In the middle of dinner, which was sort  
of a buffet-style free-for-all melee, my spouse came over, quite  
upset, and whispered to me that our hostess had just, yesterday, been  
diagnosed with some pretty advanced cancer that had spread into her  
lymph nodes, and she's going in for surgery, at age 75, on Tuesday.  
The last thing this lady needs right now is to harassed about cooking  
for 30 people, but one could easily argue that a successful holiday  
surrounded by her family and friends was just what she did need, so  
I'm glad I listen to the voices in my head sometimes...

I guess there's no moral to this rather non-linear tale, but if there  
has to be one, I suppose it is that you sometimes need to listen to  
those voices, and above all, to make sure to spend quality time, while  
you can, with your loved ones, both those with whom you share a name,  
blood, and genes, and the ones you simply choose as friends. And don't  
sweat the small stuff, just be sure you know the difference between  
the small stuff and the big stuff.

As Tiny Tim says, G-d bless us, every one, and have a joyous remainder  
of your holiday!


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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