Thursday, November 21, 2013

Perfectly Imperfect

by Judy

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us.  As we all know, this month in the U.S., we celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday.  Then soon after, people everywhere will be celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, and the list goes on.

There's always so much pressure to have the perfect day.  Like a Hallmark card - all warm and fuzzy with a perfectly roasted turkey at the center of the table, and the perfect family sitting around that table smiling lovingly. 

For some, that is exactly how the day goes.  For others - for many - family holidays more closely resemble Hallmark's Maxine. 

Maybe there's a family member who's estranged from the family, or there's someone who always drinks too much and ruins the day.  Maybe you're away from those you love, or your oven fizzled out in the middle of roasting your turkey.  Insert your family "issue" here: ___________.  It's not always perfect, but if we remember to focus on all of the things to be grateful for, you can find many reasons to celebrate your own perfectly imperfect version of that day.

My first time making Thanksgiving dinner was less than one month after my wedding day - many years ago now.  We were married one day and moved 1000 miles away the next day, so we were on our own for that Thanksgiving.  That was OK. I thought it would be romantic - newlyweds, our first big holiday as husband and wife. It would be perfect.... you see where I'm going with this don't you? 

First I bought a small frozen turkey that I failed to defrost enough before trying to roast it.  It was tiny, I thought one day of defrosting would be enough!  It was one of those turkeys that had the plastic bags of "turkey parts" inside of it.  I knew they were there.  I had seen my Dad reaching into our large Thanksgiving turkeys and removing two plastic bags.  So I reached in, I dug around, I found one plastic bag and removed it.  I reached in again to find the second bag and was surprised that there was only one.  Ok, no problem - it was a small turkey, maybe they only have one bag of "parts" in a small turkey.

I made a couple small side dishes to go with our roasting turkey. Oh it smelled so good in the oven as it cooked.  When everything was done, the turkey was plated and we sat down at our tiny kitchen table in our tiny little house, just the two of us, newlyweds - our first Thanksgiving.  And I was so proud that I'd made an entire Thanksgiving meal all by myself.

It was then that I realized that the only sharp knife that had arrived with our  belongings was a small paring knife.  Not the best choice for carving a turkey, but we can deal with that.  My husband began to "carve" it and was not having much luck.  I thought that I'd be able to do a better job since I had "knife skills" that he really didn't at the time.  We ended up hacking our way through this poor turkey - no beautifully carved slices for us.   And, lo and behold, part way through the "hacking" my new husband said, "what's this plastic?"  Oh Gee.  There was the second bag of "parts" that I had searched for.  It was in there after all.  I had just roasted the turkey with plastic inside of it.  Hmmmm. Now what?  Well, we hacked off a couple of pieces from the opposite side of the turkey and ate it.  (like maybe that side wouldn't be toxic? )

Needless to say, it wasn't the perfect first Thanksgiving that I had hoped for.  But that was OK.  We were together.  We were sitting in our warm house, starting our new married life.  We had so much promise ahead of us.  Not to mention that the side dishes came out great, and there was plenty of wine!  

Family holidays always remind me of something my Mom says.  "We may not be perfect, but we sure know how to have fun!"  That's my Mom's way of dealing with all of the imperfections that may surface when family comes together - she is able to find all of the little things that she is grateful for that make the day just right!

I hope you are able to focus on gratitude this holiday season, so whether your family holidays resemble the perfect Hallmark card, or Hallmark's Maxine, you will still have a wonderfully imperfect perfect holiday. 

Do you have any holiday mess ups to share with us? Why don't you put a smile on all of our faces and share your stories here, or on our Facebook page?  We can all find gratitude in knowing that it isn't just us! (or just ME!)


terriporter said...

Oh, this put a big smile on my face this morning! I'm sure we've ALL had similar mishaps when we were learning to cook a turkey. The overdone one, the underdone one, the too-salty dressing, the lumpy mashed potatoes, etc. We would all like everything to turn out perfectly, and sometimes it does, but when it doesn't, I love your mother's attitude, especially since it reminds me so much of what my mom would say. This Thanksgiving, my son in Dallas won't be coming home (he'll be here for Christmas), my other son is going to his girlfriend's house in Virginia to celebrate and so our gathering will be small. Not even sure I'm going to cook a turkey and might save that for Christmas but whatever we have l will remember to be thankful for all we DO have -- everyone is happy and healthy and we will all be together for Christmas. Love your shot of the dandelions and, of course, I love Maxine!

Linda said...

I think everything you described is required training for Holiday turkey cooking! lol! Oh the tales of Holiday cooking gone awry! Good stuff! In all my efforts to achieve "Martha Stewart-ness" and all the failure that implies, no one really cared if it was (far) less than perfect! What mattered was the time spent together! A lesson I was slow to learn but now fully embrace!

Anonymous said...

This is so funny! Years ago, I too forgot to check the other "section" of the turkey for any loose bags! Not to mention, my brother in law couldn't tell the difference from the mashed potatoes and gravy! Love your post and the gorgeous dandelions! Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Dotti said...

Ummm ... I have a vague recollection of having done the same thing a long time ago. Since we live so far from family, our Thanksgivings were usually the three of us, so turkey cooking was minimal. On those years we ventured home, Mom did all the cooking. To this day, I do not like cooking turkey ... actually {true confession}, I don't like cooking all that much. One thing I am grateful for is that my son-in-law loves to cook turkey so every Thanksgiving Day he cooks the turkey for us and this year we will gather in their lovely dining room in their new home. TI will contribute three things I do well: pumpkin pie, corn pudding {a Southern-thing} and spoon bread {another Southern-thing}. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

kelly said...

judy i can't believe a week from today it will be thanksgiving! {insert shocked face here!} :) and thanksgiving mess year i tried out a new gravy recipe on tripp's family and it was awful! but i love your message here. and i've found that those imperfect moments make for the best stories. funny memories to be cherished. and that is certainly something to be grateful for.

Silvina Soave said...

Estoy haciendo todo lo posible en concentrarme en las cosas por las cuales expresar gratitud.
Preciosa la fotografía, me ha encantado.
Un fuerte abrazo.

Anonymous said...

I always end up forgetting to serve something and discovering it in the fridge later! Did anybody really care? Your mother has it totally right, I think!

Kim Stevens said...

Oh I so loved this post Judy! My hubby usually takes care of the turkey, lucky I am. But I do remember a Thanksgiving either last year or the year before that my hubby was so sick as the day went on. I think we all ate in our pj's that was just the four of us anyway. And I usually always have good intentions of setting the table so nice, some years it just doesn't happen and I'm usually the only one who cares anyway. Gosh, like Kelly said, I can't believe it's a week from today!

CarolHart said...

This story sure put a smile on my face! I can remember back to my first year of marriage. Thanksgiving dinner wasn't the only meal I had struggles with!

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