Organization is the Key to a Smooth Thanksgiving!

Photo Credit: Chetham's Library via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chetham’s Library via Compfight cc

Let’s just say you are like me, and you are “doing” Thanksgiving. Now, if you are like me and you are “doing” Thanksgiving, you may share some of the following concerns.

First of all, if you are married to a man like my husband, Jerome the Great and Good, he is probably a man who likes to be organized, not like you. He says things like, “I want to get all of the Thanksgiving shopping done by June 15th because I don’t like to “be in the stores” at holiday time. This man, has been haranguing me for weeks about how I always wait for the last minute.

If you are blessed with a “helper” like Jerome, I’m sure you are also blessed with friends and family like I have. Let’s just say my beloved family and friends can be a trifle indecisive. If you are like me, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, you are still not sure if you are having 12 guests or 2212 guests because no one gives you a definitive answer.

Jerome, the Great and Good, doesn’t get this. “We can buy the paper goods; they’re on sale now,” he says sometime in July.

You say, “Sorry, exploding firecrackers are American, but not really autumnal.”

If you are like me, in the days prior to Thanksgiving, some of your potential guests are in conflict…with assorted in-laws. Should they split their time, bodies, and casseroles between two “venues?” Should the wife go to her mother’s house and the husband go to his mother’s house? Couples, especially new ones like my daughter and son-in-law huddle and whisper, “Should we stay at your mother’s house for antipasto and clam dip and then go to my mother’s house for turkey and stuffing?” Unsaid, but implied is, “Because my mother’s stuffing is better than your mother’s stuffing.”

In August, as he thinks about Thanksgiving, Jerome says, “Well, at least we can open the dining room table and add the extra leaves. Are we doing buffet or sit down?”

If you are married to a person like my Jerome, you just roll your eyes.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Jerome wants to get all of the food shopping done.  To make him happy, you go to the supermarket with your shopping list, buy a bunch of stuff, but of course not the last minutes which are the core of your shopping: the fresh turkey, the string beans, Brussel sprouts, fresh cranberries, fruit. Besides you don’t know whether you are buying a 25 pound bird or a 12 pound bird.

It is the week before Thanksgiving and some of your guests haven’t decided to be with their own strays or whether to bring “their” stray people to your house, where you have assured them that all strays are welcome. Usually this group of “strays” can add up to 11-213 people.

A few of your guests are having unexpected medical procedures (possibly childbirth, knee surgery,etc.) the day before Thanksgiving, and they don’t know whether they will be well enough to come with their children, significant others, and most importantly the casseroles, roasts and desserts that they bring every year. Note: these casseroles (corn/sweet potato); roasts: (spiral ham); pies: apple, pumpkin, cherry) are the fundamental core of the Thanksgiving meal.

True, other stalwarts step up and offer to get the ham, the pies, and the casseroles. But, this can be tricky, if the original providers of those “brings” show up with the very same dishes.

Jerome says “Last year we had too many desserts. It was a pity.”

If you’re like me you say, “Well that’s because nobody tells me what they are bringing, and last year I ran out the day before Thanksgiving and bought a bunch of pies and a Grandma’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake. Then, everyone, brought pies, and I ended up freezing the Grandma’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

I didn’t mention that Grandma’s Coffee Cake disappeared from the freezer from those damn elves that sneak in there and eat frozen cakes. But that’s a story for another day.

As I write this now, Jerome is in our basement, looking over our leftover paper plates.  One pack of 8 cocktail napkins, festooned with turkeys is definitely from last year’s Thanksgiving. Jerome just loves that decorating suggestion about mixing and matching dinnerware, and I know it won’t take long before he finds the leftover paper goods from other holidays.  I can see my Thanksgiving table now, a true study of Americana …American Flags, Yankee Baseballs and Valentines.

On those mix and match plates, my guests are helping themselves to a bountiful assortment of harvest foods. And the turkey? Well, Jerome forgot to nag me about it, and I can’t be expected to remember everything. I’ll run down to the store and order one for next year.




1954: The Stupid Teacher



1954: Fifth Grade Classroom: Yonkers, New York

“Do you know what they do with stupid boys like you?” Miss Reynolds, my teacher, said to two boys in my class who were fooling around.

Nobody answered, so she continued. “Well, I’ll tell you what they do. They put them in the army in the front lines so that they can be killed off right away.” I swear this is an exact quote, even though this event took place sixty years ago because I remember going home and sharing what Miss Reynolds said with my mother and father.

My father was a World War II Veteran. To be exact, he came to the United States in 1936 from Poland, just ahead of the Holocaust, served in the American Army, won his citizenship and a Bronze Star along the way. He saved another soldier’s life when they were crossing the Moselle River in France, under fire. This amazed me because I thought my father, who did the sidestroke, swam like a girl.

I was born in February of 1945. My father did not meet me until he came home from the war in November of 1945, and I was nine months old.

My father never talked about the war, but when he did speak, he spoke with a heavy accent.  He said things like “uppels” for apples and “vash” for wash. When I was a child, I wished he did not have that accent. It made him seem less American. But, what did I know? I was a child.

After I told my parents what Miss Reynolds had said to the boys in my class, my father, the man with the accent, went to my school the very next day. He didn’t even dress up. He wore his heavy work pants and works shoes. I was not there for the conversation.

I do know this quiet man, for the first time in his life, arrived at work late because he needed to meet with my teacher first.  He never shared what he said, but I knew I was very proud of him.