I didn't start out wanting to get out of hosting Thanksgiving dinner.
As usual, in early October, my parents and my in-laws start asking about Thanksgiving.
"What are we doing for Thanksgiving?"
I remain annoyingly non-committal because the leaves haven't even started to change yet. I know it's expected, or at least anticipated, that I host my family and Salty D's family, together.
But preparing Thanksgiving dinner is such a pressure cooker.
It really should be just a fun dinner. Instead, it's an event that requires Help Lines be set up so people who are fretting about cooking times or table settings can call in for advice or validation.
Even though it takes something like 53 hours to plan and cook Thanksgiving dinner it's not the shopping and cooking parts that stress me out so much. It's the hosting and wanting everyone to get along and have a good time, and worrying about that while simultaneously timing all the dishes to be ready at once and serving them at a perfectly set table while also wishing I was a better interior decorator or that I had changed out of my yoga pants. It's not just putting out a tray of lasagna and a bucket of salad for friends.
It's opening up your home to being judged freely on the quality of your cheese tray or tabletop accessories.
D.'s mother can no longer prepare a turkey dinner.
My mother doesn't want to prepare a turkey dinner.
And I, given my anxiety of late, in October, didn't feel like I could successfully pull off a family summit without throwing hot gravy on the floor.
Salty and I talked about it and decided to make reservations instead of dinner. Problem solved, right?
Then his mother invited us to join his family at a restaurant. We declined. My aforementioned highway phobia (it's a 90 -minute drive over the river to their home) would really be in high gear on Thanksgiving. I'd be a mess. Not this year, we said.
Then I told my mother that we were going to make reservations for ourselves instead of dinner for all in our house. To be fair, I said, D. and I were going to go to a restaurant, just the two of us. That way we wouldn't be with either family and also, I wouldn't be making a turkey for two. Nobody would feel slighted and I would have zero stress.
And then my mom jumped into action. She made reservations at a restaurant near her home and included us. She invited us over for appetizers before the restaurant and dessert after the restaurant.
My plan wasn't working out as planned. I kind of felt like a big jerk. I was also starting to feel guilty about eating in a restaurant on Thanksgiving. But I didn't have a firm alternative lined up, so I succumbed.
Now I'm negotiating with D. as to which segments we will participate in. The latest settlement is that we won't have appetizers with my family, but we will meet them at the restaurant, and I will make a dessert because this restaurant's desserts are no good.
Now I'm trying to figure out what dessert to make, because half of us like apples and the other half like pumpkin and I'm not good at making pies so maybe I'll just go with chocolate.
*sigh* I miss drinking.
The last Thanksgiving I hosted I got so drunk before the two families dinner that it was a blur and I was staggering in and out of the kitchen. That's another problem with hosting.
Still, after discussing Thanksgiving IN THERAPY -- I mean who talks about Thanksgiving dinner in therapy?! This one! Right here! -- I found myself wondering if I could just put aside my neuroses, deep clean the house and pull together a two-family Thanksgiving dinner after all. It's just dinner, I keep telling myself.
Well, next year I'll probably host. Or, go away. But this year, no.