Saturday, November 18, 2017

How I Survived Thanksgiving Dinner without Going to Jail

Well, it’s that time of the year again. Thanksgiving! The official beginning of the “holiday season.” I have a love-hate relationship with this particular holiday thanks to my wholly dysfunctional family and my obsession with creating the perfect gourmet dinner. Seriously, this is a hugely important meal for me. I start planning in August and shopping in October. The menu changes yearly and depends on my mood, my energy level, and my tolerance for family drama. We typically have six adults and four kids gathered around the table. Don’t get me wrong. I love my son and my nieces and nephews, but they could drive a saint to murder!

Since I’ve got an aversion to jail cells and straitjackets, I’ve come up with a few essentials that help keep the stress down and the cook (me) from poisoning the troublemakers. Take a look!

1. Lube: Slippery, flavorful, and... burn resistant? Well, yeah. I’m talking about butter here. What were you thinking of? Every turkey needs a good lube job. Mine comes out moist and delicious every time. My trick? I blend softened butter with fresh chopped sage, rosemary, and thyme, a little sea salt and cracked black pepper. I slip my fingers under the skin of the bird’s breasts and give her a slow, sexy butter massage before roasting. Every 30 mins or so, I reapply with a basting tool. My girl’s lubed from the inside out. Try it!

2. Batteries: Do not run out of these! You’ll kick yourself. Not for my bedroom—although you don’t want to run out there either! I’m talking about batteries to power my nifty little food thermometer. I’d be lost without it on Thanksgiving! DON’T trust the plastic popup thingy that’s stuck in the turkey. They don’t always work! All the lube in the world can’t save an overcooked turkey. A food thermometer is essential and hey, you can repurpose the batteries for, well, you know... those other important household tools!

3. Restraints: Handcuffs on Thanksgiving? Well, yeah. Maybe. Have you seen my kids??? Even more importantly, have you ever roasted a turkey without trussing it? Its stubby little legs just fall open like a horny, dateless middle-aged woman who’s just found herself trapped in an elevator with Thor! It’s sad really. Pathetic... Okay, so enough about me... Let’s get back to the turkey! I leave my bird its dignity by trussing with twine since my handcuffs keep falling off. Ooooh, maybe I could try little thumb cuffs this year?

4. Alcohol and drugs: In my house, these two things are absolutely ESSENTIAL to both the flavor of my dinner and my sanity... Note: I don’t recommend trussing the bird after too many glasses of wine. Bad things can happen. Also, don’t drink too much before making dessert. I once forgot to add sugar to the whipped cream in a big, glorious trifle. We don’t talk about that particular holiday anymore.

So, let’s get to the specifics, shall we? Booze first. Pinot Grigio goes into my mouth and into my gravy. It’s a must, must, must have in my house. Mmmm. Delish! Since I’m a big bourbon fan, bourbon finds its way into sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Sometimes, I add some to fresh whipped cream. Also my mouth. I add it there too. Depends on the amount of family drama and the number of arguing children.
Drugs? I bet you think I’m going to say something dramatic here! Sorry, but no. I confess I’m a Tylenol junkie though. By the end of this glorious, fun filled, family holiday, I want to crawl into bed with a bottle of Tylenol and a snuggly blanket. And Thor. I’d definitely like to crawl into bed with Thor. Hey, I might be a dateless, middle-aged woman, but I have impeccable taste in fantasy lovers.

5. Last, but not least, NAKED TWISTER: Say what? Made you look, didn’t I? I’ve always wanted to play that, but not with my relatives. Ewwww! All nakedness aside, Twister is an awesome game and kept my kiddos occupied so I never had to threaten them with handcuffs. Seriously, the Olerich household playroom is a Thanksgiving—and Christmas—miracle! Filled with Legos, air hockey, video games, and movies, banishing the kids to this room probably kept me from running down the street with that bottle of Pinot Grigio.

All kidding aside, the holiday season is a big stressor for a lot of people. There’s tons of pressure to shop and entertain and volunteer and cook and handcraft and party and, and, and... Well, you get the idea. How do mere mortals do it all? For me, it’s all about finding a balance and enjoying the things I love doing the most. Take a deep breath and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'll be back on December 18th!

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