I have had some really great Thanksgiving dinners in my life, some interesting ones and a few lousy ones. In a former lifetime, they were pretty crummy and I discovered that if I didn’t expect much, then I was happier. Now my life is pretty darn great but still I maintain that that it’s best to lower expectations for a Happy Thanksgiving.
If this Norman Rockwell painting is your view of how Thanksgiving is going to be then you might be in for a disappointment. Your dinner might not be perfect, I am just trying to warn you. What can be perfect? Setting the table, I did a whole post on it. It’s dishes and linens and you can do it ahead of time. I think it’s my preferred part because it’s controllable. Do it a day or two early to savor this perfect part.
I also love sewing ahead of time for Thanksgiving. Again it appeals to me because it’s fabric and thread, I can make it all turn out.
A real Thanksgiving dinner on the other hand has lots of variables that you cannot control. People are great, they are, but they are also quirky, unpredictable and messy. If you count on that then your Thanksgiving will be perfect.
Let’s take a realistic view of how Thanksgiving might turn out in comparison with this painting.
Let’s call this painted view a 20 on a scale of 1 to 20. I am giving all of you 20 points, the potential for a fantasy picture perfect family dinner.
Now read the following questions and add to your 20 or deduct from it.
1. Will there be children present? Take away one point. They add to the fun, for sure. They also throw up, pout and spill. Just part of life but I don’t see that going on in the picture.
2. Will there be teenagers or eye rolling adults present? Take away one point. They can be charming and gracious or they can be sullen, shut up in their rooms and wanting the world to know they are miserable. And the adults are even worse, take away two points for having the person who wants everyone to know they are way cooler than everyone else present.
3. Will anyone present have attended the biggest drinking/bar night of the year, aka Thanksgiving Eve? Take away one point for having a hung over, wants to sleep it off person on your couch.
4. Will anyone have more than one glass of wine? Take away one point even though alcohol never made anyone act stupid, right?
5. Is there the possibility any food will catch fire? Yes, this has happened in our family. It involved a ham, some pineapple and a fire in the oven. Take away one point if you can see this happening.
6. Will any food be placed temporarily outside? Some meat still on the turkey so you think it’s a great idea to wrap it and stick it on deck and cut it up after all the dishes are done? Or no room in the fridge for dessert? We did this and lost the turkey and all the leftovers to a really ferocious raccoon. Minus one if you’ve ever thought about this.
7. Any one crazy enough to call the police on a suspicion of poisoning? Nothing says I love my family like a uniformed officer at the door. And yes, this did happen in my former life. Take away two points.
8. Any of your food being prepared by non professionals? I thought so, lose a point. Real people have menu fails, admit it, it’s possible.
9. Any of your guests family? I knew it. Families love each other but sometimes, well, past feuds are remembered. (See #4.) Families are, well, families. Surrender a point. If you have one member who really likes to take pictures and another who would rather go to the dentist, subtract two points.
10. Any dietary restriction guests? Have you accounted for all the allergies, vegans, vegetarians and picky eaters? New dieters? You know you forgot someone, lose a point.
11. Anyone usually late, leave early or not show up? Nothing better than an empty seat. Lose a point for each of your guests who is perennially late, leaves while everyone else is still eating or just doesn’t show up at all.
12. Have you counted right? Do you have the right number of chairs, plates, rolls and knives? I miscounted once. OK, twice. Lose a point if you ever got a grade below A in a math class.
I think that covers the highlights of what potential there is for future good stories about Thanksgiving. Let’s add up those points.
Here’s what your score means.
20 pts – Solo dining on Thanksgiving. I understand.
19 pts – Really? Go back and do the math again.
16 to 18 – You’re Norman Rockwell’s cousin
14 to 16 – Sounds about right, Happy Thanksgiving.
12 to 14 – Hey, turkey is good, football is on, who cares what else is happening.
0 to 11 – Funny story to tell plus leftovers, it’s a win in my book.
I may or may not have experienced all 12 ways to lose points listed above. But not all in one year and most years, it all worked out fine. As long as no one gets food poisoning and I get help with the dishes, it’s a great holiday. If you’re less than thrilled with your experience, do what I used to do, watch Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter. You’ll feel better.
Having holidays with my family makes me laugh and feel sew happy! Or I have great stories, either way I’m eating turkey.
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