My Thanksgiving Documentary

Thanksgiving morning wears on as I watch people fret over whether the oil is not enough in the turkey fryer. While I want to appear helpful, I move back from the flaming propane tank under boiling oil. Determined to make the most of the day, I go inside to the bag of Honey BBQ Cheetos I plan to taste test in honor of The Little Johnny Club (@debihen, @daralynneiloo, and @haircuter).

Look everyone! Honey BBQ Cheetos.

Wow. These are terrible.

My mother-in-law, sees the Honey BBQ Cheetos, and, much to my amusment and dismay, treats them like an actual food item. She gets a bowl out for them, because no civilized snack can just sit out on the table in its own bag.

It’s all in the presentation.

It may have in fact been the bag throwing them off. Once she put them in a fancy bowl, people were raving over them. Even @lahikmajoe was convinced, “I don’t even particularly like Cheetos, but that presentation is making me hungry.”

This is about the time the box Salt and Vinegar Crickets arrives. I know you are thinking that if there are crickets available as snack food, that they MUST be the same crickets I took pictures of and posted a while back on Twitter. However, these are totally DIFFERENT crickets. My sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s brother brought them because he was “interested in trying new foods.”

If I had brought crickets to Thanksgiving, I’m pretty sure it would be considered an act of war. I actually brought a stryofoam cup once and tried to hold onto it for the day, which wasn’t received very well. Crickets would have been way over the top. But somehow, when someone else brings bugs, it is whole different game altogether. Maybe there is some parallel universe out there where my snack crickets are better received.

At any rate, the crickets were treated with the same pomp and circumstance as Cheetos and placed in a dish of cut crystal. It was about this time that @LittleGirlGrey sends me a beautiful picture of her gourmet bruschetta creation, complete with Blackberry Lemonade Fizzy.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Blackberry Lemonade Fizzy

So, of course, I send her a picture in return.

Salted Crickets in Cut Crystal… WINNING!

@LittleGirlGrey, like most of my Twitter friends, was quick to show her support,  “Don’t forget to add a caramel dipping sauce! It will make that salty cricket taste GOLD!”

I was a little concerned when I couldn’t find a pumpkin or gourd with my name on it at the main table. Turned out, I finally made it to that little table off to the side where they put all the odd relatives and children.

Some people call it the kid’s table. I call it the table for the drunk and disenchanted.

By brother actually made it to the big table. He is little more civilized than me, I suppose. I exacted my revenge by giving him all the crickets left over from snack time, a surprisingly large percentage.

My brother has a surprise at his place setting.

Dinner commences and the afternoon wears on. For the entire day, I have really just wanted to take a break from everything and write my sappy Thanksgiving blogpost. @lucysfootball got to write one. I know, because I read it while I was hiding in the bathroom (Gooble Gobble Goo and Gobble Gobble Gickel; I Wish Turkey Only Cost a Nickel).

After dinner, when it seems like everyone is distracted watching the Cowboy game, I quietly take out the laptop and begin to type. I have not yet even typed one sentence when I notice someone reading over my shoulder, uncomfortably close to my face. I pull back with what I hope is a look of quizzical annoyance. “Watcha doin?” they ask.

I shut the laptop. Nothing. Now I am doing nothing.

The evening wears on. The room begins to darken. Cheers rise and fall in the background as someone wins the football game. Then people begin to leave. “Drive safe. See you soon,” we tell them, with hugs all around.

The night wears on. Someone builds a fire outside. My father in law grabs his guitar and heads out, yelling, “Fireside sing-along everybody!” Oh shit, I glance down and realize my phone battery is at twenty-percent. I should have been more careful taking all those Cheeto pictures then not charging it. Hoping for a Thanksgiving battery-life miracle, I head out toward the singing and general merriment. Neither of which I am good at.

The phone held in for a little while. Before I ran out of battery, I was able to accuse @AIRIGOAGAIN of being a van and somehow inspire @jbrown3079 and @lucysfootball to convince me to care about either dogs or Sarah McLacklan.

When the fire finally dies down, my sister-in-law and I head indoors, get our laptops and retreat to the dining room. Neither of us bothers to turn on a light and the darkness works its magic. Despite the eerie white glow of our computer screens, we become invisible as everyone moves past us for more pie, or to wipe the stickiness of the fireside smores from their fingers. I finally get to type.

When I get started on something, I am pretty good at tuning things out. So, once this blog thing gets rolling, I am determined to finish despite interruption. At some point, my sister-in-law starts singing show tunes, or a song from the Little Mermaid 2.  She was telling me about it, but I was too busy typing like mad to pay close attention.

Then, my mother-in-law comes in and for some reason beyond my comprehension, starts telling me about breakfast. I give her the same agreeable nod I gave to my sister-in-law in response to the show tunes. Then she says, “I hate to do this,” and literally starts pulling the tablecloth out from under my laptop. The tablecloth apparently needed to be washed… at midnight. I lift the laptop, and pause typing, never taking my eyes from the screen. Finishing my sappy Thanksgiving blog is only thing I really wanted to do all day and I will not be deterred, not by show tunes, and not by table clothes. And no…. I don’t want pie.

So, I type through the whir of dessert. Forks clink amidst the banter of a late night talk show host. Someone makes coffee, most likely decaf. Then, suddenly, the most amazing thing happens. Silence. Amazingly, everyone finally went to bed.

Alone in the darkness, I add a last few words to my Thanksgiving blog. Finished. With the feeling of gratitude I sometimes get when my life almost makes sense, I hit the magic button… ‘Publish.’ Like a message in a bottle, my sappy holiday post drifts out into the world, waiting to be found.

A sense of relief washes over me as Thanksgiving slides away, leaving only vast amounts of refrigerated turkey in its wake. The new day finds me on my own at a table once teeming with activity. Enjoying the small achievement of holiday-accomplished, I check to see who is awake with me on Twitter. Then, a timely  message appears onscreen from @heinakroon:

“Well, I’m glad you survived. On for Christmas!”

Sigh. Bring it, holidays. Bring it.

Side Note: I am totally aware that from an alternate perspective, there is a woman out there perplexed that her lovely formal dinner was waylaid by crickets and Cheetos. But, the world belongs to people who write shit down. Remember that. Or, you can just link here and refer back to it.

Thanks

It is the end of the day, Thanksgiving, and I finally feel inspired. I was supposed to be inspired yesterday, but a hell day of traveling in Thanksgiving traffic sapped every ounce of inspiration right out of me. I wanted to feel inspired earlier today, but the house was too busy, and everyone kept asking me what I was doing on the laptop. Actually, most people just leaned over my shoulder uncomfortably close to my face and said, “Watcha doin’??” in a cute high-pitched voice. Nothing drains inspiration like having to explain yourself.

I have wanted for a while to tell you all the story of how you came to be. Or, maybe it is a story about how I came to be. Maybe it is the story of how I have had too much wine.  I have probably been drinking more than my allotted amount. To my credit, I wanted to go to bed hours ago but circumstances would not permit. Now things have settled down, everyone is watching football, and I am typing away invisibly in a very dark dining room. My sister-in-law has now joined me. Our laptops feebly light the space in eerie white. I pour a new glass of wine, contemplating the percentage chance of tomorrow’s headache. But… I have packed ibuprofen. Tomorrow be damned! Here we go….

Once upon a time, my friend Jenny sent me an email asking if she could post some of my Facebook status updates to her blog, The Bloggess. I was actually thinking I needed something interesting to happen that day. I love my job, but it can feel isolated at times. I was thinking it would be nice to come in one day to a witty comment, or hear a funny, sarcastic remark once in a while. You see (really… I don’t expect ANYONE to understand this) I am in a very unusual situation. I work for, and with, people who are genuinely nice. These people are not prone to sarcasm or wittiness, to no fault of their own. Please note that I am in no way complaining about my generous and kind employers, I am simply noting that something crucial to me was missing from my life. Disgruntled addled people? Definitely not, but sometimes too much sweet leaves you craving for something salty. That is all I’m saying.

Just when I was sitting at my desk, contemplating my unlikely dilemma, I got Jenny’s email. She said that she was writing a book and needed something to fill in her blog. She told me she would like to use my Facebook postings and also that I “wouldn’t have to do anything.” While I did have some serious doubts about people’s willingness to read a bunch of my status messages on a blog, I figured that any disenchanted readers would complain to her and not to me. Also, she did say that I wouldn’t have to do anything. In retrospect, my favorite part of this whole scenario was the not having to do anything. I will do favors for everyone all day long that require no effort on my part. So, I responded back with a long rambling email, the gist of which was, “Knock yourself out.”

A few weeks later, Jenny sent me a link. The outpouring of her fans for the inanity of my Facebooks posts was astounding. And addictive. I should admit here that I have always read Jenny’s blog, usually leaving pissed off that I could never be that funny. In fact, one of the Facebook statuses she incorporated in her blog was directly related to how inept I felt after reading her blog. Irony rarely works for me so well.

So, with a fresh batch of inspiration, and a few very kind links and mentions from The Bloggess, I started a Self-Help T-Shirt Blog, and dusted off the Twitter account I’d been ignoring. This is also about the time I met my in-person friend, Michiel. I remember distinctly, for whatever reason, telling her, “My friend Jenny has this blog….” At this point, Michiel interjects with, “You mean, THE BLOGGESS??” It was incredible. Astounding, really. We bonded on the spot. Later, she took me shopping for metal chickens.

Today I was reading @lucysfootball’s “squishy” Thanksgiving blog post. What touched me most was a description of her unexpected connection with the Geek Girl’s Book Club  and how it was “Kind of the best thing that ever happened.” I can relate to best things happening this year. Through Jenny, I got an unexpected instant bond with a great in-person friend. Not only that, I have made bonds with people on different continents, in various time-zones, and in an assortment of life situations. We laugh together, make inappropriate jokes, wear terribly inappropriate t-shirts, and I deeply appreciate all of you. You are all the sprinkles on my cupcake and “kind of the best thing that ever happened.“

I am loath to say names at this point, out of fear I will leave someone out. Just know that you provide my commentary for life. You help me through difficult situations, and joke with me during otherwise uneventful moments. We read each other’s blogs, sometimes making a tangled mess of blog/Twitter connections I’m sure is almost impossible but for the most devoted to follow. Whether you connected to me directly through Jenny or not, she sent you on my path and, essentially, brought you all to me. There are a few key moments in life when you don’t know the value of the gift you are receiving. This was definitely the case that day I got that email.

Today, on Thanksgiving, I want you to know how grateful I am for all of you, and how much I count on you daily for humor and insight. Also know, that if The Bloggess ever knocks on my door and asks to have you guys back, I am NOT giving you up. I am scattering you around the house and acting like I have no idea what she is talking about. You are mine now. MINE!!! No backsies, Jenny!

So, that is my squishy Thanksgiving post. I can just get it in under the wire.

A Thanksgiving Post for the Travelers

Several of you felt a little left out during the Thanksgiving Survey because you will be traveling to other locations rather than sponsoring the event yourselves. Since you will not be cooking, you apparently don’t need to choose between pork rinds or skewered green beans for your side dishes. So Joshuapack your kids in the car with the diapers and milk cups, because this post is for you!

For those of you feeling out of the loop, I want you to know that I too will not be cooking during Thanksgiving Dinner. In fact, I will never get to cook for Thanksgiving. You see, I took my own Thanksgiving Survey and answered mostly B.  A Type B cook is someone who doesn’t understand enough about cooking to know the significance of say, baking powder. If baking powder is so important for that batch of cookies, why does the recipe only call for like a teaspoon of it?

Apparently cooking isn’t that logical, because that little dab of baking power is fairly important to the performance of the cookies. And also, if you are trying to make brownies and you have no eggs in your house, there is nothing you can put in brownie mix that will substitute for the eggs. Don’t even try it. As you can probably guess, a lot of times when baking I tend to give up and just eat the batter.

So, being a Type B cook, no one ever lets me do anything in the kitchen during holidays.  I think the problem is that no one has appreciation for the unexpected. Cookies have to rise, and turkeys have to arrive at the table un-charred with absolutely no room for error. Therefore, I will be joining all of you who will get in a car and drive somewhere. Some of us, like Debihen, are driving to see friends. Some, like Elizabeth Francois, will be on the way to the in-laws. Some of you are joyful about it, some of you are apprehensive.

I belong in the crowd of the apprehensive. It has come to my attention recently, that some of you think there is something wrong with me. Not that there is anything wrong with having something wrong with me. Well, I guess there is something wrong, because wrong is the recognized definition of having something wrong. Anyway, I think you see my point.

It started out when a friend of mine told me to read this article for people with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was a little put out by the implications of this, but it turned out to be a good article (See: How to Establish Rapport in the Workplace). Next, @eldergeek, in a totally unrelated situation, sends me a link so I can test myself for autism. A test which I PASSED by the way. Wait, which way is it if there is nothing wrong with you, to pass, or to not pass? Whichever one it is where there is nothing wrong with me, that is the way it went. Okay? So there is NOTHING wrong with me.

That being said, I think there might be something wrong with me. Take Thanksgiving, for example. These types of holidays usually involve getting together with extended family and hugging. I should point out here, that I don’t like hugging strangers. And by strangers, I am including distant cousins, close cousins, aunts, uncles, all in-laws and the elderly.

Also, I hate that thing where people greet you by kissing you on the cheek. Kissing on the cheek takes the whole greeting thing way too far. My husband’s family is the kissing on the cheek variety. Some of them even want to even kiss both cheeks, which I definitely consider overkill. Maybe, if I admit something is wrong with me, I can forgo all of this cheek kissing and live a normal life. Or an abnormal life, whatever it is you do after you admit to having a syndrome.

This should help cut down on the cheek kissing.

Another problem I have is people talking to me. Sometimes I don’t mind when people talk to me. Sometimes people say things like, “I read your blog and it is so funny!” I like talking to those people. However, my relatives never read my blog. Mainly because I hide it from them at all costs. So, they usually say something like, “How is your job going?” And I usually say something like, “Fine.” Then they look at me oddly because now the conversation is at a standstill. I try hard to think of something I can say that will be entertaining without pissing anyone off. Nothing ever comes readily to mind.

Caution: Use of this shirt could disrupt the natural flow of conversation, causing people to revert to the default topic of football.

In an effort to keep the conversation going, I will usually expand upon my previous statement, muttering something like, “Really fine.” The disappointed relative wanders away and I consol myself for this failure with a few gulps of wine. Then, another relative approaches. There is hugging, a couple of face kisses, and finally an animated question to which I can tell they are expecting a compelling answer, “How is your job going?” Sigh.

It’s been a long life already. I should have been an octopus.

Thanksgiving Survey

Preparing for Thanksgiving guests can be stressful and time consuming. Improve the quality of your Thanksgiving dinner by answering a few simple questions about your food and serving preferences. Based on your input, you will receive a helpful t-shirt as well as some tips to improve your preparation process.

1. How do you typically serve the Thanksgiving turkey?

  1. Fried in a large vat to the internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Feel free to verify the temperature by stabbing the turkey with the meat thermometer while it is hanging directly over
  2. With crisp black skin on the outside with raw/frozen turkey carcass on the inside.
  3. On a 19-inch Italian hand-painted turkey platter.
  4. From a package that says Oscar Mayer.


2. What types of beverages will you provide?

  1. A Pinot Noir with nuanced flavors and subtle earthy undertones. Don’t forget the wine opener, it was really awkward last year when you opened that bottle with the umbrella.
  2. Instant powered tea that is always too dark or too light because the instructions on the side of the jar are vague and hard to follow.
  3. The beverage doesn’t matter so much as the fact that all the stemware matches.
  4. Natural Light

3. What types of side dishes will you serve?

  1. Probably something you can skewer and cook over open flame. Like green beans.
  2. Holiday Jell-O Salad with cream cheese, seedless grapes, and cherry Jell-O. It is fine if you only have green Jell-O and you can substitute cottage cheese for cream cheese since it is about the same thing. However, you will realize at the last minute that you don’t have the right kind of pan to mold it all together, and the whole concoction ends up looking like alien vomit.
  3. The fruit salad one of your houseguests agreed to bring over. Of course, you will have to immediately stop what you are doing in order to transfer the salad from their Tupperware container to a more appropriate 12.5″ Diameter Lace Cut Crystal Serving Bowl, then quickly wash and hide the plastic container from view.
  4. Pork Rinds.

4. What type of dessert will you be serving?

  1. Caramel Apple Flambé or Pumpkin Crème Brûlée. It really doesn’t matter which, as long as you get to break out your new butane torch.
  2. Cookies. Except you were out of baking powder, so you left it out. Apparently, the baking powder is a more crucial cookie ingredient than it seems. You call someone to stop by the grocery store to pick up a cake.
  3. Dessert will be served on delicate china dessert plates with sterling silver tiny forks. You also plan to serve coffee in tiny cups on matching saucers with miniscule silver spoons for stirring. This ensures that everyone has twice as many plates and utensils as they actually need while simultaneously making them feel like huge cumbersome giants.
  4. Twinkies with chocolate syrup.

5. What types of centerpieces will adorn your table?

  1. Your last centerpiece unexpectedly caught on fire during dessert after you got carried away with the butane torch, so you try to avoid them.
  2. You were going to get a cornucopia at Wal-Mart but you forgot.
  3. Nothing says fall like a glorious harvest wheat centerpiece.
  4. The carved pumpkin from Halloween with the sagging part strategically angled.


6. What kind of dinnerware will you be using?

  1. Thick earthenware plates that are chip resistant and fire retardant. And skewers.
  2. Thanksgiving dishes mixed with two or three from the Christmas dish set because you dropped a few of each last year and now nothing matches.
  3. Delicate Autumn Themed China.
  4. Paper plates left over from your kid’s birthday party.

All done? Great!
Now it is time to view your results and begin enjoying your imaginary t-shirts.

If your answers were mostly A, here is your shirt:

This is really a shirt to help everyone else and not so much you.

Please take care when constructing your Alton Brown Turkey Derrick. Failure to follow the instructions can result in fire or explosion, most likely leading to property damage, personal injury, and/or death. Oh… and check the settings on your butane torch. You had the flame up way too high last year.

If your answers were mostly B, you get this one:

Who needs a cornucopia anyway? Even the word is strange.

Thanksgiving isn’t really your holiday. You should delegate this holiday to someone else and focus on traditions with fewer variables. St. Patrick’s day, for example, is holiday that is more your speed. You invite some friends to a bar, have some green beer, and you’re good to go. No one even expects you to decorate.

If your answers were mostly C, here you go:

You will probably want to BeDazzle this later.

You may be finding it difficult to refrain from putting up Christmas decorations until this lesser holiday has passed. I know Thanksgiving really doesn’t have the glitz and glitter of Christmas, but you can still make it work. In her Thanksgiving issue of Over-Decorating, Martha Stewart has included  instructions for several time-consuming and overly large centerpiece creations for Fall. By the time you finish arranging your citrus fruit, nuts, branches and wheat sheaves, it will be time for you to put up that long awaited Christmas tree.

If your answers were mostly D, nice work, this one’s yours:

Nothing says the holidays like gas fumes.

Relax, turn on some Robert Earl Keen songs, and enjoy chain smoking through this holiday season with your kinfolk. For holiday meal ideas, you can turn to Paula Dean. She has a great bread pudding recipe that uses day old Krispy Kreme donuts, plus she does things with butter that you’re going to love.



Thank you for taking my Thanksgiving Survey.

If you, like plumsauce10, happen to “live in a country that insists of celebrating things only when completely necessary,” and you are currently “sailing through to Christmas.” You have my eternal envy.

However… you don’t get a t-shirt. Sorry.

Holiday Dinner: A Field Guide

If you are like me, and disturbed by situations that seem common place to others, you are a little bit freaked out about the upcoming holidays. For example, on Thanksgiving Day, it may seem confusing to you that family members who have spent the entire year telling you not to eat carbs are now loading you down with cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, bread rolls, and three types of pie. This is part of the bizarre nature of the holidays and you will have to learn to cope without seeming odd. Luckily, this year I am writing a field guide to get you through these types of events.

First, upon entering any dining area, you should immediately assess the number of items on the table. This will be your first clue as to the length of the meal. As a general rule, the more stuff there is on the table, the longer you will be required to linger over the meal making small talk. A good sign is to see one plate on the table per person. Also, one knife, fork, and spoon per person is a good ratio. This means that the individual in charge of planning the holiday meal has not set unreasonable expectations for the experience. You will therefore be able to eat your food and get on with the rest of your life without unreasonable delay.

However, if you enter the room and see chargers*, bowls on top of plates, multiple sizes of forks, candles, and a centerpieces of any kind, you are in for the long haul. This stuff took a long time to set up and you can’t just put food on your plate and take it to the living room to go watch TV.

You will now be required to load a plate down with food to eat while talking about relatives you barely know. You should probably go ahead and figure out what to tell people when they ask how your job is going, and why are aren’t planning to have any more kids. Despite the fact there are numerous hand-held devices with which people can be entertained, they have set up this table and prepared this food so that you will entertain them by talking. And, no… you are not allowed to piss them off.

If you are not afraid to seem odd, this shirt might deflect some unwanted attention.

Despite your enormous plate of food, you will most likely get bored at some point during this process. To aid you in making it through the experience, I have provided a list of appropriate activities you may use to distract yourself during the holiday meal. These are all approved activities. When performed within the parameters documented below, these actions will not draw undue attention to the fact that you just want to ignore everyone and play Angry Birds on your phone.

Proper dinner activities include:

  • Pushing food around the plate with your fork. This will work as long as you do not get carried away and create entire food sculptures or castles with gravy moats. Also, do not ask for extra cranberries for the finishing touches on your potato snow man. That is going way too far.
  • Intense study of the formal centerpiece. You should note that it is important not touch or prod the centerpiece in any way as they are extremely top heavy and can tumble over without warning. I don’t care if you are wondering why there is a little bird in there with a pumpkin, DO NOT touch it.
  • Asking for extra ice so you can watch it melt. This activity is limited to ice placed IN the glass ONLY. Do not place melting ice in any other location.
  • Drinking more wine.

This year, I will also be taking mental notes to enter into Twitter. This is going to be my first annual Twitter Event in which I bitchtweet** all through Thanksgiving day. I know I will have lots of time to type things into Twitter while pretending to watch the football game. I may even attempt to complete Twitter entries during the meal itself, I will let you know how this goes over. If anyone has any advice for concealing Twitter-related devices during a formal Thanksgiving type situation, I would be glad to hear it.

Explanation of Terms:

*Charger – A plate you put underneath another plate which is not actually used for eating but that you will be asked to wash by hand once the meal is over. Do not ask why you have to wash a plate that no one has, or will ever, eat from. You will never get a satisfactory explanation. Unless, of course, you ask The Bloggess. She will tell you: “They’re those fancy plates that you put plates on. They’re ridiculous. I’m not using plates for plates.” I fully agree.

**Bitchtweet – To bitch about a specific topic on Twitter. Here is an example of proper usage in  which BlogDramedy encourages me to join NaNoWriMo, a 50,000 word writing challenge: “Join in…you, me, Shouts. We can be writing buddies and sit around and bitchtweetabout how many words we have not written yet.”

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