Thanksgiving is a big deal around here.
I plan for months. MONTHS, I tell you.
I scour Pinterest for the perfect recipes and I painstakingly keep my meticulous lists from year to year to make sure my menus are varied. I write notes to myself about what appetizers went over well, which dishes had leftovers and which recipes wound up being thrown wholly in the garbage six days later with nary a scoop removed (I’m looking at my mother in law’s Garlic Green Beans…shhh. Don’t tell her I said that).
Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday around here. It’s an EX-PERI-ENCE. A taste and smell extravaganza complete with a signature cocktail.
And I make a mean bowl of mashed potatoes, I tell you.
Every year, we are blessed to have upwards of twenty people around our table and the guest list has ebbed and flowed over the years. We’ve lost some valuable players who are missed dearly but we’ve also welcomed our table to neighbors who couldn’t head home for the holidays, Hubby’s colleagues and dear friends who have traveled from far distances to eat my aforementioned killer mashed potatoes. My cup runneth over on the fourth Thursday of November and it’s my favorite day of the year.
Suffice it to say, Thanksgiving is NO JOKE around here. Martha Stewart herself would be blown away at the table I set and the food I prepare. At least, in my head she would.
Of course, not ALL of our Thanksgivings have gone smoothly. In fact, my first Thanksgiving as a newlywed resulted in rather uncomfortable standoff with my mother-in-law which, thankfully, was peacefully resolved and did NOT involve her throwing her
disgusting homemade Garlic Green Beans at me. You can read a little bit about that HERE.
And, of course, we’ve all read about the now infamous Great Frozen Turkey Incident of 2005 (also known as “The Day I Lost My Marbles And Went Batshit Crazy In My Kitchen Because My Turkey Was Frozen With 22 People On The Way For Dinner’). Thanksgiving in my garage, with a frozen turkey defrosting in my bathtub, eight weeks after having Fruit Loop #2. Yeah. It was a beaut, Clark.
Then there was Thanksgiving 2008.
Or, as I call it: The Day The Lights Went Out On Thanksgiving.
On that beautiful, unseasonably warm day in November 2008, I was in full on preparation mode. I’d been cooking for days and I was coming down the home stretch. I’d risen before sunrise, as is my custom, to have a quiet cup of coffee and to commune with my stainless pots and chopped onions, craisins and stuffing croutons. By the time everyone padded down to my kitchen in the late morning, the smells and sounds of Thanksgiving were rising to a fever pitch. Bacon wafted. Turkey grease scintillated the senses. The sounds of the Macy’s Day Parade filled the house. I could practically taste the painstakingly chosen Chardonnay and it was only 10 am.
As I put the trussed turkey into the hot oven, Thanksgiving was ON and it was going to be a good one, I could feel it.
As I was gently sautéing figs and caramelizing onions in balsamic vinegar to put over goat cheese (Oh, YEAH I DID), I heard a loud boom. A boom so loud that it shook my house and rattled the windows. I paused, briefly wondering what would cause a such a loud noise, but I became sidetracked as my sangria cranberry sauce started to boil over (your mouth is watering, right?). Undeterred and keeping my eye on the Thanksgiving prize, I continued to work magic in my kitchen.
And then, it happened. The unthinkable. The unimaginable: the entire house went dark and silent. Deathly quiet.
As my sauté and boiling pots came to a slow, grinding halt, I realized The Lights Had Gone Out On Thanksgiving and my turkey still had four hours to cooked perfection.
Bewildered and confused, I did what any self respecting chef would in that situation: I yelled at the top of my lungs for Hubby to come to the kitchen “RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!”.
As he ran in and upon seeing the wild look in my eyes, reminiscent of the Great Frozen Turkey Incident, he immediately shot out, “ImonitIllfigureitoutdontpanicjustrelaxImsureitsnothing” in a jumbled mess of verbal diarrhea.
We quickly discovered that a inebriated gentleman had decided to drive his car right into the power pole at the end of our street, thereby rendering the entire neighborhood without power. Thankfully, his drunk ass was fine but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention I had a wishbone to pick with him and his poor choices that day.
As the emergency personnel responded and secured the scene, it was clear Thanksgiving had taken a turn: it was going to be hours until the power was restored, thereby casting a pall on my perfect turkey skin and gravy. My guests would be arriving in a half hour. What’s a Thanksgiving Overachiever to do?
I decided that the show must go on, people.
I ran home, got out every bit of cold appetizer food I’d prepared and threw it all together willy nilly on plates. Forget the perfectly timed appetizers. Screw the presentation. I threw caution into the wind and put as much food out as I could because I knew it would be a while until I served my actual dinner. Wine was poured, beer caps were popped and cocktails were mixed. We joined the neighbors in the street, block party style, marveling at the firefighters and their bravery. And, of course, we offered them food when they were done with their heroics and were thrilled that they joined us.
Yes, my turkey sat in a lukewarm oven for two hours that day. Yes, the power was finally restored two hours later by a very kind and understanding electric company. And yes, dinner was later than I planned.
But, we got to see community at it’s finest and gracious hospitality extend beyond the borders of our front door that day. And, so what if my carefully chosen Chardonnay was downed in red solo cups on my front lawn?
It was one of our best Thanksgivings ever.
And, uhm, sadly, the Garlic Green Beans were a victim of poor refrigeration….ahem.
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