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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