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  • Writer's picture Jana

A Hallmark Channel Thanksgiving? Not Exactly, but Still Much to be Grateful for.

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Is it just me, or is it mandated somewhere that all holidays have some sort of chaos, calamity or drama built in? And if that is the case, why do all of us continue to hope and expect for the Hallmark Channel version, year in and year out? I think I just answered my own question. It is the Hallmark Channel, and the like, that perpetuate the the myth and keep all of us chasing the ideal, to no end.

As holidays go, ours was relatively happy and stress-free compared to ones I can recall from the past that were more drama and chaos-filled. Nonetheless we still didn't escape unscathed, nor manage to attain that picture-perfect Thanksgiving that I keep striving for, no matter how often it eludes me.

It started first thing in the morning when I discovered that Garin and I had different expectations for the day. He had wanted to wake up and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade first thing. However, I told the kids that I wanted to join in, so I asked him if we could watch it later. He reluctantly agreed, displaying great disappointment as he said, "Okay, I guess so Mommy." Rather than languishing in my pajamas, I wanted to get out for my morning walk to increase my odds of retaining my sanity through the long day of cooking and childcare that lie ahead. Catherine decided to join me (I had no other takers, despite all but begging the boys to join). We got a bit of a late start on our walk, which was the first thing to disrupt the timing of my day.

Once I got home from the walk, I made everyone a late breakfast (thus causing me to get further behind) before embarking on my cooking marathon. I had made three of the ten dishes the night before (the cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole), but still had hours of cooking ahead of me. I started the stuffing first thing since it is always so time consuming, all the while watching the clock to make sure to get my 15 pound turkey in the oven on time.

It was at this point that Garin, still in his pajamas, had a minor meltdown. When I asked him to get dressed he said he would prefer not to (he didn't quite say it that politely), because he wanted to watch the parade in his pajamas so it would feel like he was watching it in the morning like everyone else. Who is everyone else? Would that be all the other families in America who do things right? I think that was a dig? When I explained that I had to get some of these dishes started and cooking or dinner wouldn't be ready, ever, things took an even more unpleasant turn. He reminded me, "I wanted to watch the parade in the morning like everyone else does. Instead, you have to spend the whole day cooking a meal that no one is going to enjoy eating because it took so long to make and ruined our day." Gut punch.

After we had words and I told him that his opinion about how the day should go had hurt my feelings, he apologized and said he was being irrational. A thirteen-year-old hormonal boy being irrational? Go figure. I accepted his apology, even though I still felt put off and went on with cooking the dinner that presumably, no one was going to enjoy eating.

No sooner, did the turkey disaster ensue. I had purchased a kosher turkey (for no particular reason, other than I had never tried one before) at Trader Joes a few days before Thanksgiving. When I removed the turkey from it's packaging I had a slight freak out at what I found. For your sake and mine I will not go into the gory details, but suffice it to say, I didn't find the turkey in an acceptable condition to cook. Sheer panic came over me. It was noon and the turkey was due to go in the oven. I took a deep breath, packed it back up and calmly told the children I would be leaving the house for a short while in search of a new turkey. "What? You have to get a new turkey?! It's Thanksgiving Day, Mommy! What's wrong with the turkey you already bought?" I can't answer that question without ruing everyone's appetite for turkey forever and yes I have to go out a get a new one on Thanksgiving Day.

Catherine decided to join me on my quest. Our first stop was Trader Joes to see if we could just exchange the turkey for a new one, but alas, it was closed. Catherine, the turkey and I got back in the car and headed across the street to Ralph's. I was practically praying at this point I was so nervous. What if they didn't have any turkeys? It is Thanksgiving Day after all and all the news programs said to buy early because there was a shortage on everything. What will we eat if the shelves are bare? Catherine and I ran through the store directly to the meat section and much to my delight we found plenty of turkeys! Not only did we have enough to choose from, but they were 75% off! They were perfectly lovely, but in an effort to get rid of what they had left, the store had marked them way down. It was my lucky day (well, sort of). Most importantly, we were back in business.

Catherine, the old turkey, the new turkey, and I rushed back home as quickly as we could get there without breaking the law. Catherine called the boys on our drive back (who were probably secretly watching the parade without us) and made sure they pre-heated the oven in anticipation of our arrival. I got that bad boy in the oven in fifteen minutes flat. I had never prepared a turkey that fast in all my life. I felt like I was on an episode of Chopped on the Food Network.

After getting the rest of the dishes prepped and or cooked, the kitchen cleaned up and a quick shower to calm my nerves, I was ready to watch the parade. But before doing so, I wanted to baste the turkey again. I opened the oven and saw the most picture-perfect turkey cooking away, which pleased me greatly, given the calamity I had averted. I called everyone over to admire the perfect specimen cooking away, but instead was met with, "Mommy, why can't everyone in the world become a vegetarian." I don't know Miles, why are you asking? "Well, would you want someone to do that to you?" he responded as he pointed to my magazine cover-worthy turkey in the oven. I took a deep gulp, looked at the other kids and quite frankly, had no idea how to respond. I still don't. From the mouths of babes.....

As it turns out, dinner was delicious! We did our best to put the low points of the day behind us and enjoy the scrumptious meal.

After dinner, we got back in our pajamas (for the night), and watched the parade, with great annoyance, as we always do. We all agreed that as nostalgic as it is, the entire show feels like a bunch of commercials strung together for a patchwork of products and services. I reminded Garin that we have the same complaint every year so perhaps next year he can go a little easier on me if we don't manage to get up with the roosters to watch the parade on time, in our pajamas. We both laughed.

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