If you read my last blog, you’ll know I attempted the Herculean task of abandoning a 35 year run of being in charge of the Thanksgiving meal to turn the day and its meal prep over to my son, Ben, and son in law Charlie. Why was this a daunting task? My goal was to let go without succumbing to any backseat cooking.
In an effort to game the system and make it more likely that I had some small level of success, I decided to impersonate my Great Aunt Lois who perfected the role of entertaining but unhelpful guest. To help me, everyone called me Lois all day. On the
relatively rare occasions when I strayed from my course to sound the alarm about a boiling pot of gravy or thrust the potato ricer at someone, they would shush me out of the room with the sassy comment, “Snap out of it Lois.”
And how glad I was for every
shove nudge out of the kitchen back into the playroom with the grandchildren, because let me tell you…..It was fun to be Lois.
How freaky was it to be carefree and doing what I wanted as a woman on Thanksgiving? Pretty darn freaky and I loved it. In fact, I have already sworn off 2022’s Thanksgiving meal and passed the chef baton to Ben and Charlie.
As I watched the National Dog Show with the grandchildren, not a single concern about menu execution, food prep or time management entered my brain. Instead I could fall in love with Claire, the Scottish deer hound who once again stole the show.
When the little people and I put on our winter jackets and wandered down into the hayfield, nothing called me back to the stove. I was free to wander in the six different directions the grandchildren and dogs were heading in.
I tried to be slightly responsible and told the menfolk about my whacked oven and how it turned off randomly and frequently needed to be rebooted. But other than that I did a
fantastic pretty good job keeping my hands busy with the matchbox toy cars and a towering stack of toddler books instead of paring knives and wooden spoons.
So maybe the real Great Aunt Lois would not have been with the kids. After all she preferred an extra dry martini in the company of adults with nary a toddler in sight. But I like little people. As I sat amongst them I knew when they cried it was probably because someone needed a snack or a diaper change. When things escalated to a cousin to cousin meltdown, I was already on the ground with them to listen to their feelings and help sort out who got the next turn with a toy which previously no one on earth had ever had any interest in.
Somehow these lovely little people reminded me that we are all children here on Earth. Maybe offering snacks and listening to each other’s feelings could help us get back to appreciating each other versus fighting so much.
While we brought world peace closer in the playroom, Ben and Charlie appeared energized by their cooking efforts. Such good smells and so much laughter. Women kicked in with roasted vegetables from Lizzie and mashed potatoes from Emily. Lois? She brought her appetite.
As we came to the table the mood was one of gratitude. Like so many other families, ours did not meet for Thanksgiving last year. What a blessing we could be with each other this year sharing this fabulous meal. Our gratitude even brought out a gentleness when the topic was raised: How did Lois do?
There were a fair amount of teachers in the crowd so they missed almost nothing. If I glanced at the stovetop, one of them saw it, if not two of them. I knew I couldn’t expect grade inflation nor did I think I deserved it. I noticed my own problems keeping my hands off the oven mitts, so I gave myself a B- but the family elevated that to a B. I was very happy. I put my pearls away carefully that night, knowing Lois would live again next year and maybe even get a B+ for her lack of effort.