Or: How I Deal with This Year’s Thanksgiving Pressure
It is only two days until Thanksgiving. Since we were
too lazy to travel eager to present our new apartment, we invited my boyfriend’s family to New York City. So far so good. I am sure that all four people will be excited to leave Boston and San Francisco, respectively – I mean they get to see us and the cat. And Manhattan.
All the Food Questions
But for the last about two weeks, I have felt a burden on my shoulders. It started with me realizing that we really needed to order a turkey. Who knows if the frozen birds would be sold out by this week? Like in all of Manhattan. I just hadn’t been aware of how many options of turkey there were. Cheap, expensive, sad, happy, held in cages, free-range, with or without antibiotics, organic … We eventually chose a medium priced one, one that was probably very happy to be eaten by us. When my boyfriend wanted to pick it up for us this morning, they couldn’t find our order. They still gave us one. Phew! Tiny 14 pound bird is now waiting in the fridge to be filled and roasted in less then 35 hours.
I am also still not convinced that a 14 pound turkey will be enough for six people. That and the mashed potatoes, pickled sweet potatoes, green beans, corn cobs, squash, cranberry sauce, gravy, fresh bread, a fruit pie, and a pumpkin cake. This is the first time we are making Thanksgiving dinner for my boyfriend’s family, a big deal for me. I don’t want anyone to feel even the slightest bit hungry. When we visited my family in Germany in October, everybody constantly offered so much food to my boyfriend that he felt fattened. I obviously stick to family traditions here. Nobody shall think they will want to eat again within the following two days. Therefore, I made several lists with foods to buy and when to prepare which dish. After we had bought almost everything by Saturday (minus garlic cloves and wine and corn and …), I already pickled sweet potatoes on Sunday. I also pressured my boyfriend into doing a test run with the white bread. Tonight we already roasted the squash and garlic cloves.
Meet the American Nobility
The only aspect where I lowered my sights are the green beans. I opted for the frozen option. Please don’t tell my boyfriend’s family. Ever. Not only do I want to properly feed them, but I also want to American expectations. It is very possible that I have dreamed up my own set of high expectations here. But being German I feel I have to try that little bit harder. It doesn’t help that in my mind his family would be nobility if the U.S. had nobility. His ancestors first came over on the Mayflower and thus they must be the most (white) American as it can get. They basically invented Thanksgiving (almost).
The other issue is that I find my boyfriend’s mother quite terrifying. He insists that she is totally nice and means well. But he was also never asked to show everything she bought when coming back from a shopping spree. Where she – or rather I – bought a lot and from my own money. In my mid-30s. Anyway, I feel extra pressure here. So much that I considered tidying even my closets (my own mother would totally look into them and judge me), but decided against this. Instead I ordered a fancy tablecloth, cloth napkins, and chair pillows. Everything is supposed to look as good as it can (minus the closets). We might even make our bed properly and put out only towels of the same color and kind in the bathroom.
The best ways for me to make it through this Thanksgiving’s preparation have been:
- I have already bought most Christmas gifts, including gifts that my boyfriend will give to some members of his family. Shopping is always an amazing distraction.
- Deal with something totally different: Have I yet mentioned that there is water dripping from our bathroom ceiling?! That kept us busy for the last two days. A plumber opened the ceiling today, fixed it provisorily, and will repair the pipes and ceiling properly after the holidays.
- Clean the apartment. Because while I am cleaning, I cannot cook or go back to the supermarket.
- Read all Black Friday ads. So that I know if there is anything I should or want to buy.
- I again and again try to explain to my boyfriend why this Thanksgiving is such a big deal to me. Another ten rounds of explanations and might start to understand me.
- We will go out tomorrow night with friends and there won’t be any talk of Thanksgiving dinners. But booze. Enough to make me forget any pressure and little enough to wake up early on Thursday morning to put that happy turkey into the oven.
I will keep you posted on how it goes. If the turkey is big enough. If the food is delicious enough. If the family is happy enough.