Is it still Thanksgiving if I don’t feel guilty?
This is the question I ask myself this year, as we plan to take the easy route and place an order for our Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans and fresh cranberries – all ordered from a well-loved local restaurant.
The question nags at me:
“Can I still be a good wife/mother if I don’t cook???”
I come across so many delicious looking recipes that beg to be made. Then there are the Pinterest articles which show how to set an AMAZING and lovely autumnal table. It’s all so lovely and inviting – I feel very obliged to follow suit.
If I don’t follow these strict, time-honored traditions, how will we survive? The guilt is hanging over my head like a dangling knife on a worn thread.
But my husband insists that I don’t cook this year. I’m a bit offended, since he prefers his mother’s cooking over mine. But he knows that we’re all working the days before. And Thanksgiving morning means prepping late into the night the evening before.
The alarm goes off early Thursday morning as I have to haul out the dark blue roaster out of the pantry. I’d have to wash it first, since it gets dusty sitting on the shelf for 365 days.
Then comes pulling out the turkey, hoping it’s fully thawed, and realizing that icky bag of guts and neck bone are still frozen deep inside the bird.
It’s a gross chore, especially when you’re still wishing you were in bed on your day off from work.
But that’s what I did year after year, while raising my daughter on my own. After all, what kind of mother would I be if I didn’t show her our family traditions?
We kept up the appearances, scouring the magazine recipes and making our own cheese ball to resemble a pinecone, stuffed with slivered almonds. The roast turkey did smell awesome as we waited for my aunt, cousin and family to arrive for dinner.
We ate the typical appetizers, enjoyed going for second helpings of turkey and dressing, and seemed to hold the usual conversations each and every year. Afterwards we finished up with a board game and watched holiday movies.
There was NO GUILT on my part
I had done my part as a hostess and mother -- dutifully making everything from scratch, pulling out the good dishes and creating a clever centerpiece for the table. It felt good that I taught my daughter the tradition of Thanksgiving and sharing with family.
Can I go ahead and order our holiday meal from a (gasp) restaurant?
Yes. I can.
The point is, we’ll be together. And I won’t be up at crack of dawn, grouchy that I have to tidy up the house and put together a full dinner with the expected dishes.
We’ll still eat together at the table, share some wine and the same old, worn-out stories. There will still be dishes to be washed and a tablecloth to be tossed into the laundry later that evening.
We may have some extra time that morning to make a visit to my brother-in-law, who isn’t well enough to come home for the holidays. We’ll still run around at the last minute to pick up the food. We will wait for my daughter who has to work that morning at a florist, as customers pick up fresh flowers.
And we will enjoy that delicious meal from a restaurant.
Because I finally learned something:
Thanksgiving arrives every year. And guilt doesn’t need to be a part of it.