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Is It Really Worth It ?

Get up at 5:00 A.M. to get the turkey in, make the dressing, the potatoes, the pies, make a nice tray of cheese, pickles, olives and all, break my favorite bowl, get a glass splinter in my toe., Watch the "Macy's Day Parade ". Not just Thanksgiving but Christmas also.. I've had it. It takes 20 freekin' minutes for the whole family to eat it. Uncle Mick is complaining about how dry the dressing is, and little JoJo want to play the WII game NOW. And Melissa hates the scalloped oysters so much she gags and wets her pants... Never again... Let my whole freekin' family go to Burger King next year...

....Ok. I feel better.

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  1. ****hugs****

    Sorry it was such a PITA!!!

    We were fortunate to be invited to the home of some old family friends and just take a couple of bottles of wine. Other than that it was just going to be the two of us. I guess we're fortunate not to have much immediate family nearby, just my folks in the next town.

    1. Darn. Bad day. Sorry.

      All across America, there are those (not just women) who slave to prepare a beautiful meal that often goes unappreciated or under-appreciated.

      But this isn't about Thanksgiving. Or even about eating. It's about not carrying such a big burden all by yourself and instead getting the several different kinds of support you need. Good luck to you.

      1 Reply
      1. *more hugs!*
        i'm sorry, hotmelly!! i personally love the holiday, but it helps that my friends and family appreciate my cooking (and i love having a captive audience ;).
        i really think you should ask uncle mick to bring the dressing next year and ask little jojo and melissa to help with the prep (mashed potatoes?) and have the meal later and get up at a non-ung-dly hour.
        or else just have it catered / be a potluck!!
        i hope you were able to recover today and do something for yourself.

        p.s. if you have any of those scalloped oysters left, please send them to me!!

        1. Sorry it doesn't seem like it worked out this year. Is it worth it? The memories, the good and the funnier catastrophes, don't really emerge until decades later. Melissa may remember the first year she is granted a place at the adult table. Hopefully everyone will be around to share them. Give the kids, and the uncle, some responsibilities for the Christmas feast, and they will be more invested. Change the schedule so you aren't getting up at the unGodly hour and are short of sleep and patience.

          One more possibility -- If you are in an urban area, most of the big shelters and churches that serve Thanksgiving meals to the needy also do Christmas. Take the young ones and have them volunteer -- they can set tables, scoop food, and help clean up. Will give a big dose of much-needed perspective and gratitude.

          1. My mother swears every year that she is not cooking dinner and that the family can go to Medieval Times and eat turkey legs while watching jousting.

            10 Replies
            1. re: lulubelle

              That's funny - Medieval Times came up at our Thansgiving meal too - in our case when my 7 year old niece announced she wanted to eat her whole meal with her fingers and I said, "Perhaps you would rather eat your Thanksgiving Dinner at Medieval Times?"

              1. re: flourgirl

                what is this medieval times of which you speak? it sounds fun! i might have to plan on having my next t-giving there. my favorite part of the turkey 'carving' process is where you get to tear all the leftover meat off the carcass with your fingers!

                1. re: cimui

                  Medieval Times is a dinner theater of auditorium-sized proportions. When I took my students there, they were doing a "damsel-in-distress" theme with jousting and a sorcerer. Each knight has his own section of the stadium to cheer him on. The display on medieval life is ok, but the portion on medieval torture methods is great! Yeah, I'm twisted but its humanity is too. The menu is set, and served to thousands at a shot, but you eat with your hands. The "novelty" gives the teen and tween set something to chatter about. But you can ask for silverware, if you are like the chaperones on our trip.
                  I think out menu was a veg soup (you sip from the bowl - no spoon) and a leg of some poultry. I don't remember much else - too busy trying to avert a real food fight in between the shows parts or students trying to wander away - but there is a website www.medievaltimes.com.

                  1. re: TampaAurora

                    "There were no utensils in medieval times, HENCE there are no utensils AT Medieval Times...would you like a refill on that Pepsi?"

                      1. re: nickblesch

                        Exactly! It was an entertaining afternoonm anyway.

                      2. re: TampaAurora

                        hah, that sounds great -- thanks for the lowdown. i notice they do corporate events, too. this will definitely need forwarding to my office's Party Planning Committee.

                        and their website says they have dancing horses! wow!

                        a choice morsel:

                        "11TH Century Spain. The ultimate business trip. Trade the power tie for a crown and enjoy the company of your coworkers amid the revelry of a medieval feast and tournament. If you think the corporate world is competitive, wait until you see our Knights in action."

                        1. re: cimui

                          The response which stops my mother from making reservations every year is "Manure Dust" . The thought of eating food in a swirling atmosphere of that puts me right off.

                          1. re: lulubelle

                            Manure Dust -- "for your special medieval tasting pleasure"

                            1. re: lulubelle

                              ah, a little manure never hurt anyone. in elementary school, my friend kim and i would eat sandwiches while riding around on her horse, casper, pretending to be cowgirls on a long trek. (no time to dismount for rations if you gotta make the border by sundown.) i bet i ate pounds of the stuff. =)

                  2. For occasions like Thanksgiving, cooking shouldn't be viewed as a means to an end.

                    Rather, the cooking should itself be the end.

                    1. If you really don't like cooking the meal and your family isn't enthusiastic about the food, then why not go out? Unless my family gets invited somewhere, we go out and everyone's perfectly happy with it. Obviously that may not be the case for Christmas, but it's not like there is anything forcing you to do a traditional meal. You can just make something everyone likes that does not take hours and hours of prep.

                      1. easily worth it to me,

                        to put together a meal for my favorite holiday of the year. Turducken, carrot cake, and everything else came out perfect.

                        1. A vegan meal cuts out the turkey factor. We make a couple savory pumpkin pies as the main dish. Vegans and omnivores enjoy it and the turkey is appreciative.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: lgss

                            I have changed my perspective about the Thanksgiving meal. In my mind, it's just an oversized chicken dinner, nothing more. I put everything together ahead of time so the only frantic things are making gravy and getting hub to slice the bird. Where I get in trouble is the clean up. I've made the mistake of getting overly attached to my yard sale, flea market and special-meaning-purchased dishes and serving pieces, that I insist on washing each one by hand so the kids don't break any of them. If I used plastic and paper plates, I'd have less work....

                          2. Lots of sympathy HotMelly... Some of the other posters already said some very insightful points.

                            I can tell you I nearly wet my pants thinking about the existence of scalloped oysters! You can add me to your virtual mailing list of scalloped oyster eaters. As for the suggestion to go out on major holidays, Chinese restos are often open on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. A fine time-honoured tradition is to order a whole lot of take-out, maybe supplement with one or two home made dishes and voila! No fuss, lots of food, no early morning. And if you do the math, it isn't even that much more expensive than doing the whole turkey thing. Chinese takeout goes a long way. And I would agree that you might get more appreciation in the future when you recover the energy to do another all out traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

                            Hang in there! And sorry about your favorite bowl too.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: moh

                              Oooh, we did that one Christmas when we were visiting my sister and she ended up in the hospital for the holidays trying NOT to have her baby too early. (Ben was still 2 months early). We ordered takeout and all hung out in her hospital room enjoying a cozy Christmas dinner. And no dishes to clean!

                            2. It's my favorite day of the year, but I understand how it can turn into a nightmare. Sounds to me like you need to simplify and make it about shared responsibilities.

                              Also, it sounds like the people involved don't really like each other's company all that much if you can finish it in 20 minutes. At our house, we invite friends over and we start with snacks in the living room. then we go onto salad, then an appetizer, then the main meal, and then we take a break to make coffee and we have dessert after that. I'd say we spend several hours from starting to eat to finishing dessert. We are four adults and four kids, so it's manageable.

                              But I have had negative T-Day experiences. A couple of times we visited my family and it wound up as an extended family meal with about twenty-two people, nobody knows everyone else, a few I don't know at all, and some who don't speak English. Plus the food is not all that good. After the second time doing that, we said 'never again'.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Steve

                                Yeah, I agree. something's not right if Thanksgiving dinner is over and done in 20 minutes. Our family does pretty much the same thing yours does - we eat various courses over several hours, starting with snacks. It's usually 6 adults and three kids (my parents, my brother, our spouses and kids.) It's really relaxed and I look forward to it every year. We also don't eat until 5pm and we all help out with the preparing and the clean-up.

                              2. HotMelly, boy I have so been there, done that and I feel your pain. I used to host Thanksgiving for my family and friends. We would invite any people we knew that didn't have family around, so sometimes I ended up with up to 20 people in a kitchen that could hardly fit 10. I would start prepping & cooking 2 days ahead, get up super early to make it all happen. I did all the things that others have mentioned with the starters, and extras along with the traditional and some vegetarian options. It would take us longer than 20 min. to eat, but what really pissed me off was how quickly everyone had to leave after dessert! Even my own daughters that lived here! I would end up with the biggest mess, and the DH would be asleep in his chair. I gave up, threw in the towel, told them I was passing the torch. Now we have it at my daughters, but still I bring the dressing, and have to make it taste like it's been stuffed in a bird (see my post about that in home cooking - that was a challenge!) and bring other dishes as well. She makes mashed potatoes, and green beans. Her husband fries the turkey. No relish trays, no fruit salads, snacks are tortilla chip that we deep fry before we put the turkey in, no pies, and I make the gravy. After we eat she plunks her bottom down on the couch and her husband and I clean up. One day I am going to leave town before Thanksgiving and not come home until afterwards. Let her try to do it all on her own.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: danhole

                                  Serve way less food and use plastic plates and cutlery. Relax and enjoy your time spent with family, start a new tradition (loving yourself first).

                                  1. re: danhole

                                    HotMelly and Mrs Hole, you two should be visiting me in Colombia at this time next year rather than putting up with any of the horrors you describe.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Sam, I'll start saving now! Just let me know what to bring.

                                  2. Next year, book a massage for the Friday after.

                                    In addition to a nice massage to look forward to, I cook less food and trimmed my guest list. Amazingly, critical and ungrateful relatives managed to find someone else upon whom to inflict themselves. Now I am free of them!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: three of us

                                      A massage after..................GREAT Idea!

                                    2. The favorite bowl is a real bummer. Hope you find another just like it before Christmas! As for the rest of it, I'll risk sounding like Pollyanna with this line of thinking, but... Your Uncle Mick and Melissa sound like the kind of people who simply don't have an "edit button" in their brain to keep them from saying stupid things. The long term reward of a huge Thanksgiving like you hosted is you never know who will remember and cherish it for years to come as their favorite Thanksgivng of all. Who knows? Maybe even Uncle Mick and Melissa! The only time you get to know what people really think is if you overhear them describing the occasion to someone else, and they have no clue you're listening.

                                      Have you thought about making next Thanksgiving pot luck? And tell Uncle Mick to bring the dressing... '-)

                                      1. Keep the holiday, lose the relatives.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: wayne keyser

                                          wayne keyser, brevity is the soul of wit! LOVE it!

                                        2. We got a full 40 minutes of table time, a possible record. But then after a few FB games and a few folks off to see the Christmas Lights at Longwood Gardens (PA) we all seemed to re-coallesce in the back room and folks picked at the left overs (some still in slow cookers, some sliced and cold, some heated in the micro. It lasted for several hours (including a rousing Scrabble game and a devastating UNO game). It's all about family and friends and we were able to make the day last from 1 until well past 10

                                          1. We had Thanksgiving at my mother's house upstate NY, we pretty much packed up and transported our kitchen. What we were not ready for was the fact that my poor husband had to spend the entire day Wednesday from 7 am until 10pm cleaning and fixing my mothers oven. It is a self cleaner and apparently that feature had not been working for many years. I was really angry, but my husband took it well. Did I mention we shopped for and cooked the entire dinner and cleaned up as well.

                                            1. I would cancel it next year and see what happens. If no one says anything or offers to host, then perhaps they don't care enough and don't deserve your time and effort. I used to plan vacations for my friends and families. Not that they need to say or do anything special for me, but I couldn't even tell if they cared or had fun, but they always went. I stopped planning, we stopped vacationing as a group, no one planned anything. 15 years later I planned again, oh everyone showed up again and went, and I'm not going to do it again for another 20 years. For the worker bee, it's a lot of work!

                                              1. Is It Really Worth It ?


                                                1. Is it worth it? Hmmmm....

                                                  My husband's family eats with us on Thanksgiving. I have NEVER enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal with them. It's not just the lack of "hello" when they walk in the door or the fact they glue themselves to the TV, not making conversation, it's all the usual things that bother me about them all year long amplified (I guess cause it's happening in my home after I've knocked myself out cooking for two days), things like the BIL with both elbows on the table leaning over his plate shoveling the food in (literally) getting up from the table in about 12 minutes flat. My SIL jumping up and clearing the dishes before I'm done my meal. She won't stop even after asking her to, "that's just the way she is" says FIL. The niece and nephew who never say "please" or "thank you", who also never asked me if they could bring their girlfriend and boyfriend to my home for Thanksgiving dinner, surprise....

                                                  It's not until the next night when I sit with a plate in peace and quiet with just my DH that I can really enjoy my efforts. If I did not have to eat with BIL, SIL and children I wouldn't - any time of year.

                                                  It really is only worth it because it's my husband's favorite meal of the year.

                                                  Oh, did I mention the sobbing MIL? That's a whole other story.....

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Axalady

                                                    Other have said it before me: it's time to cut them loose. Thanksgiving with friends and/or just the immediate family. Play games, swap stories, whatever. If you can help it, don't repeat your mistakes.

                                                  2. If you are doing it all for any reason other than that YOU enjoy the DOING of it, then, no it isn't worth it. If you are doing this for the enjoyment of other people, then you need to do whatever it is that is meaningful and enjoyable to them.

                                                    It's not possible to compel any real family to have a Norman Rockwellesque holiday experience. We have all lived through the forced Rockwell tableau holiday events, and frankly, it's a tradition that we don't need to perpetrate on future generations. If you are putting yourself through this because you need the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, you are asking to feel disappointed, exhausted and exploited.

                                                    You need to do what it is that will bring you joy. Give yourself permission. If you can't giver yourself permission then I give you permission. If anyone in your family complains, feel free to blame it on me! And then invite them to pick up the torch and carry it on.

                                                    1. Yeah it's worth it....
                                                      Count your blessings (it's just a meal).
                                                      Never know what next year will bring and who will/will not be there.
                                                      It's all worth it.