I have signed up to do another half marathon. The Bath Half. Eek.
Somehow, this is in no way as frightening to me as the prospect of cooking an entire turkey for 24 people. 24!! Ten plus ten plus four! Twenty Four!!
Because that is what I brilliantly signed up to do.
In a moment of clarity last month at our Ladies Who… meeting, between the glugs of red wine and the presentation of vibrators (no, it wasn’t some weird sexual ritual we do at our ladies group…although I’m pretty sure that’s what my boyfriend and all his friends are thinking goes on..it was Ann Summers), I had volunteered to host the next evening in November. Not only for Ladies, but also for Gentlemen.
It made sense.
We hold our meetings on the last Thursday of every month, and in America, the last Thursday of the month of November is…that’s right folks…Turkey Day!
No one was holding a knife to my neck saying “You must help America conquer the world by stuffing turkey down 24 British people’s throats, and sharing our tradition!” No, in fact, I’m pretty sure no one even asked me what Thanksgiving was, nor asked me if I could bring our weird tradition of, as Jock calls it, “stuffing-ourselves-silly-a-month-before-Christmas-just-like-we-do-at-Christmas-time-but-with-no-presents” to the British Isles.
In fact, it’s become quite difficult for me to even describe to questioning Britons why we actually do it.
I mean, why do we do it to ourselves? That’s what I want to ask my fellow Americans on this first Thanksgiving away from home. Why?? Not why like, “Why could we possibly want to get together with family and have a nice meal?” But more like “Why does this holiday still actually exist?”
The pilgrims and the Native Americans never got along. They definitely never had a big dinner on Plymouth rock (OK, apparently they did have a dinner – there goes my knowledge of history!), and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t really care if we continued this tradition or not. When I so naively invited these 24 people to my house for this evening of Turkey, Cranberry sauce, Stuffing and Pumpkin Pie, and a few did venture to ask me what the day was all about, the only thing I could muster was “It’s the day we give thanks…I guess?”
And, that seems like a pretty good explanation. Wouldn’t you say?
So, they don’t know it yet, but I’m planning on making the evening even more uncomfortable than it already will be with 24 people crammed in our small house, badly cooked turkey and not enough cutlery or places to sit by asking them all to give a reason why they are thankful.
I will ask for silence.
I will ask that everyone take a moment, and then go around the house and share what they have to be thankful for. After all, it’s what my mother would want me to do.
And, inside I will be giggling wildly. Oh, they’re going to hate it! I mean, it’s bad enough at home in America where we’re supposedly good at sharing emotion and deep thoughts. But here? Here?! They would rather give up such British institutions as Tea or Cadbury…oh wait, they’re already giving up that one…or the Queen! Yes, the Queen!, they would rather give up the Queen than share deep emotions.
Ok, I’m exaggerating. That’s going a bit far.
I would never subject my poor friends to such cruelness I had to go through as a child.
I’d just ask them to write down what they’re thankful for on a piece of paper and put it in a bowl. And, later, I will pull that bowl out and read them all aloud. Or write them all down and email them in a mass email. Or just post it on here. Or make billboards and hang in front of said person’s house…
Back to the turkey I’m trying to cook. How did my mom do it? How do moms around the world do it? I’m having panic attacks lying in bed at night thinking about hosting a party for this many…
Let’s be honest. I had never cooked an entire meal for more than two…count them…one, two…people before last year. But, being the Lady Who Lunches, I found it was my duty (haha, I said duty) to learn how to cook. Not do as most Ladies Who Lunch would do and hire a personal chef, but no, I wanted to cook. Because, as much as I do love stir fry and the ease of flipping meat and oil in a pan, after two solid months of Jock and I eating the same combination of three ingredients (i.e. meat, onions, peppers), I decided there needed to be a change.
So, yes, now I have had three, I would go so far as to say, successful dinner parties since then – for FOUR people. FOUR. Not TWENTY FOUR. But FOUR.
And yes, I have ventured out of stir fry into such realms as Jerk Chicken, Mango-filled Cream Puffs and Asian Five-Spiced Chocolate Cake, and besides the Chocolate Cake, all has come out well.
And, even though stir fry was a drastic change from my single days of popcorn and wine for dinner, skipping lunch and instant oatmeal for breakfast, cooking for 24 people seems a bit more extreme coming from small dinner parties, doesn’t it?
But none of you will feel the least amount of pity for me when I tell you that I have help. Gasp! I know. I confess it. I had to dish out some of the sides to the other ladies. I couldn’t do it all. Sob. I had to pass the baton to the others. Cringe. And here is the final blow – I am not wonderwoman. In case any of you were in doubt. I am not WonderWoman. All that fan mail gone to waste…
This Thursday, I am a Lady Who… asks for help when I need it.
And, I seriously can’t wait for Thanksgiving. I feel like I did when I was a little girl and got my newest Roald Dahl book for my birthday, staring at it knowing that it would be filled with joy, adventure, strange and sometimes off-colour English humour, and best of all, fantastic stories. I wonder what the others will think…
Oh, but one more thing. To put added pressure on myself, I asked all the ladies if they would read my first 100 pages of my newly edited book for feedback. I’m finished editing page 50. Only 50 pages to go in a week!
So, what are you thankful for?
P.S. Stay tuned for a tea giveaway….