Here’s what I used to do, back when I was stupid. Troll the web for the best and yet easiest recipes for things like stuffing, sweet potatoes, and this year green bean casserole though we’ve never had that at Thanksgiving before. Apparently it’s a big deal, green bean casserole. But this year it’s my idea for a good vegan dish. Anyway, I find all these recipes, multiple versions of each and also things like salads, desserts, apps, etc. Then I grocery-shop at like five stores, buying ingredients for vaguely-all-but-not-exactly-any of them, because I don’t know which I will actually make and I’m pretty sure I have some of this stuff at home but maybe not so I buy more of the stuff I always think I’m out of and not enough of the stuff I never realize I don’t have. (Oregano. Bread crumbs.)
Then Thanksgiving comes and I haven’t figured out the oven and cooking times, and the house is spotless but I am dithering, literally pacing back and forth with hands flapping, between many different possible recipes that I have almost all the ingredients for, and I realize none of that shit matters and why didn’t I just figure it out ahead of time and plan the oven time and ingredients and not end up with too much of what I don’t need, and everyone arrives and it’s loud and I’m panicking and cousin Liz says This is so great, and I say quietly though there’s no need to whisper everyone else is talking so loudly, No it is a disaster, I’ve never been this unprepared, and she says, Really? Everything looks so nice, and I say No you don’t understand half the stuff is not even cooked yet, and she says There’s no rush, everyone’s having fun, and I get angry that she doesn’t understand how disastrous this holiday is.
Then eventually we all eat, after Jimmy or Rick or Marty says grace, ironic about it only until the moment where they actually start, and we eat, and everything is great. And then we have dessert, and there is way too much of it, and it’s all delicious, I realize that all the dinner food didn’t matter that much, because it’s all kinda cold by the time people are eating it anyway, and it all tastes pretty much the same, I mean it’s all good but it’s not like going to change the world, you know? You don’t have to go to Whole Foods just for nutritional yeast for the vegan casserole, fuck it, it’s good with some cashews added. And then I vow to be way more relaxed next year and not worry about it.
SO. This year I am sitting here forcing myself to decide on one recipe for each thing. Which means I’m creating some new recipes that combine different things I think I’d probably combine if I were in the kitchen. Then I’ll look in the cupboards and fridge to actually see what I actually still need. For each thing I will do that. Then I will go to Harvestime for them. And later today, when we pick up the turducken and the turkey breast and have those actual cooking times, I will sit down and figure out exactly what will be made when, and cooked when, and cooked where — oven, crockpot, etc. There will be a chart. The chart will have times and instructions, and will account for the awesome stuff everyone else is bringing that has to be warmed up at the last minute.
And I might think this chart is ridiculous, way too planned-out for a meal that shouldn’t really be that big a deal, it’s not that different from other meals, but I won’t be swayed by that this year. I will just look at my chart and do what it says to do next, and it will be the chillest Thanksgiving ever.