A Crummy Cook Gives Thanks

A Facebook friend posted the night before Thanksgiving that she was really grouchy just then and wondered if anyone else was feeling that way too. I was, boy. I was feeling super grouchy though I didn’t post as much, being at the time too grouchy to join in the spirit of generosity that characterizes Facebook at its best.

I had a list of good reasons for my grouchiness that night, or so I told myself. For one thing there were the muscle cramps I keep getting as I sleep, which make me dread the night as much as the parents of colicky newborns do. I LEAP from the bed every time one hits to put weight on the troubled limb, even knowing that one of these days I could accordion flat down into a human puddle, like those collapsible tin drinking cups the Scouts used to use on camping trips.

There was also the tedious chore of food preparation, a task I have not enjoyed since the Seventh Grade when our poor Home Ec teacher tried to teach me and 29 other snickering 12-year-olds how to make Prune Whip.

There was the personalizing of 200 holiday cards that I’d spent the previous six days working on. I wish I could just sign our names and be done but I can’t seem to do that any more than I can plunk a big box of Count Chocula down on a dressy Thanksgiving Day table.

And finally, there was the way I looked just then, in worn-out sweat pants gone in the waist, a hand-me-down man’s shirt in which I look like the old dad in Modern Family, and over it all an apron from a decades-past college reunion embroidered with an image of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

Well, I knew that much: I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, if Kansas is seen as Martha Stewart’s version of the run-up to Thanksgiving Day.

My husband David had gone up to bed before 9. I minded that and wished desperately to join him but instead stayed downstairs by the kitchen bingeing past episodes of This Is Us and inscribing another 40 Christmas cards while a slew of wee laboriously peeled onions seethed on the stovetop. (I’d been too late with my shopping to find the kind in a jar that comes all cooked, dammit.)

I worked and I worked and finally at midnight thought The heck with this, pulled off the apron and crawled into bed.

The next morning I spun up now less three bowls brimming with greens and various toothsome mix-ins. I made the bechamel sauce for the onions and blobbed the whole sucking lava-thick mess into a chafing dish even though at that point it looked to me like nothing so much as a mixture of Ping Pong balls and Milk of Magnesia.

I spread all these dishes out on our kitchen counter and texted a picture of them to our daughter Annie, along with the “caption” Three Salads and a Funeral”, the funeral being what I had come to think of as my Creamed Onion Surprise. She in turn texted back lovely pictures of the three holiday tables she had set up for the whole family and the next thing we knew we had set out Over the River and Through the Woods to her house. My failing Merit Badge contributions were added to the feast and we all sat down to eat on the all-too-short remains of the waning, amber-and-amethyst-colored afternoon.

In other words, the sun rose and the sun set on that day, mere hours from Decembers’ start, and we looked, and saw that it was good.


15 thoughts on “A Crummy Cook Gives Thanks

  1. I have not progressed much further than 8th grade home ec class and we never “got” to make prune whip (nor snicker about it) … cheesy weenies were our triumph and when I offered to make them at home, my mom rolled her eyes at me. My Thanksgiving dinner was lame but since it’s just me it worked out well. It is what I call “one-pot wonder” … green bean casserole, only in a pot with flame-grilled chicken strips. Your house is beautiful – I love that sunny kitchen Terry.

    1. Well you know ” all’s well that ends well”. The beautiful family ate a delicious meal and life was good and there was peace. happy holidays….Love, Judy

  2. Cramps at night!!! I hate them. My friend said I need more Magnesiim so I bought some and it seems less but it still happens. It feels like my calf muscle will rupture or else break my leg.
    Happy holidays to you all. I started my cards (first time in 6 years I think) then thought I want to do something mindless so watched AQUAMAN!!!!

  3. It all looks lovely! The kids are adorable and will have happy memories of these holidays.
    I also hear that magnesium helps a lot for leg cramps…and making sure to drink enough water.
    I, too, feel the need to add notes to every Christmas card, but my list is not as long as yours. This year I think I will do a short letter and insert it in the card with a photo. Maybe…we’ll see.
    Hope you have a jolly month! How can you miss with those cute grands?

    1. So true Morgan . I have never so enjoyed buying stuffed animals haha. Also thanks so much for this tip. I bet I DON’T Drink enough water before bed.. I will try that too though of course there is a consequence🤭

  4. with all the holiday insanity since November and mix in another getting her driver’s license (and all the insanity that comes along), I am finally catching up on my bursting email box.
    I always love getting your card, terry, thank you for always remembering us. your family is beautiful, so many blessings around us. xo happy new year!!

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