I just want to kick this off by saying I like hosting Thanksgiving.
Sure you end up going to the grocery store about three to seven times a day leading up to The Big Day. Sure you end up going to extortionately priced alternative grocers, in a desperate effort to avoid the hellishness of going to the grocery store to the masses. And, sure, you inevitably end up forgetting a few things, like butter. Or beer. But it's all okay, 'cuz it's Thanksgiving! It's fun to keep going back to the store.
Truth be told, the only thing that makes all those trips bearable is the fact that the kids -- and by that, I mean Ryan -- are in school or in bed when I go. Nothing like blindly throwing items on the checkout counter, mindlessly and frantically bagging them -- making half an effort not to crush something with cans, bottles or a 20-pound turkey -- only to find yourself unloading two kinds of ice-pops, some cheddar pretzels and a power toothbrush when you get home.
But Thanksgiving was great. I had most of my family here. Later, we Skyped for the first time, reaching out to Mike's mom and family out in California.
The next day, the leftover party began with Cara breaking out some stuffing and apple compote for breakfast. Lunch was turkey and bacon sandwiches. Except for Ryan, who had the less traditional open-face grilled cheese and bacon. Still more turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and assorted root vegetable dishes were re-heated and consumed over the course of the long weekend.
By Monday, I wanted it gone. And I had this great idea that I could just layer whatever was left into a baking dish, top it all with mashed potatoes and call it Thanksgiving Shepard's Pie. Everthing gets mixed up on the plate anyway, right? How quaint! How clever!
"How to ruin perfectly good leftovers," Mike said.
It might be hard to believe, but Ryan wasn't into it, either. He started circling the kitchen around 5 p.m., when he could smell something cooking that didn't have that familiar and pre-approved pizza, pasta or burger scent. I knew what was coming, so I attempted diversion tactics, using one unpleasant task to distract him from what he'd immediately deem a very unpleasant and unwanted meal.
Ryan: "What's for dinner?"
Me: "Do your homework."
Ryan: "Really, what are you cooking?"
Me: "I'm just re-heating something. Do your homework."
Ryan: "I want cheeseburgers for dinner. Dad can make them."
Me: "Maybe tomorrow. Just do your homework before you get STRAIGHT F'S, for GOD'S SAKE!"
Full disclosure: My end of that probably went on a little longer, and the semantics may have been a teensy bit stronger.
But when dinner was being put on the table, Ryan went in full Ryan mode.
Ryan: "WHAT!?! WHAT IS THIS???? I'M NOT EATING IT. (Turning calmly belligerent) I'm just not. I'm having a burger."
See, Ryan doesn't like turkey, mashed potatoes, carrot souffle, stuffing, gravy, etc., etc. He also doesn't like his food to touch. He'd still be using toddler divider plates if we didn't chuck them out. So to him, this was a heinous act on my part.
Me: "Sit down. It's this or nothing. And you can go to bed."
That got him to the table. Where he carefully picked the turkey out of the rest of the happy mash-up, making a face like he was dissecting day-old, West Texas road kill. For 10 minutes, he masterfully avoided all root vegetables, including the mashed potatoes, and complained bitterly about his fate.
Ryan: "I can't believe you're making me eat this. I could have just had a burger. Who would ever eat this? Look at it: it's the Devil's grave!!"
Thank you, my son, for warming my heart. I think I'll relay this oh-so-very-tender moment to one of those family groups that's forever promoting the importance of sharing dinnertime with your offspring.
When Mike finally recovered from doubling-over with laughter at Ry's keen hilarity, he cleared the table. And scooped the rest of the concoction into the garbage can, posthaste. Good thing he did: I was ready to resurrect the dish that night in a vengeful tour de force to be known as "The Devil's Grave 2: In Your Sleep."