I’m currently in the middle of my favorite annual meltdown: Thanksgiving Dinner perfectionism. My chef brother makes the actual dinner – along with my mother, also a former chef – so there’s no performance pressure there. Thanksgiving is like my brother’s Olympics, SuperBowl, Christmas and birthday rolled into one giant meal for 20 people, so he generally pulls out all the stops. Keeps it somewhat traditional but mixes it up; his cranberry compote has bacon in it, for example, and one year he did three different stuffings (one was straight-up Stove Top for Yours Truly – I WON’T APOLOGIZE FOR THE BUTTERY PROCESSED CRAP IN MY LIFE).
There’s a finesse to freaking out about nothing, but after 40 years of practice, I’m at the top of my game. While the hate crimes pile up in this country and children go hungry and cats fight dogs in the street, I’ve been on Pinterest, agonizing over recipes I will never make at parties we will never throw. Welcome to Thanksgiving Privilege 2016, Population: Me.
Last year, I spent two weeks planning what ended up being, oh, two desserts. One, two. Not a buffet table of 45 differently-themed desserts from around the world, but two things I could carry with two hands, and I don’t even remember what they were. Two weeks of planning and pinning and sweating and dreaming, for what? This year, I’m keeping it simple with three desserts, two that can be made ahead of time. I also decided my motto for the holidays this year is: NO UNNECESSARY STRESS. Almost 100% of the suffering I’ve experienced in life is all because of me. I am a stressful person, in that I stress myself out and the people around me when I get overwhelmed, making something fun – baking, spending time with family, diabetic treats, Thanksgiving – patently unfun.
This year, I’m prepared for my usual bullshit and getting out of my own way. The kitchen is clean, the ingredients and instructions are bought and printed out two days ahead of time – for me, this is like studying for tests (which I never did) or paying bills before they’re due (WHAT, BUT WHY) – and I have a plan of action, plus a reward for said action, and then a back-up plan. This sounds like overkill, but most of my plans usually begin with a Pinterest board of 400 things and end with abject crying. Right now, I’m just leaning into this weird new me who is somewhat prepared, like some kind of adult, which is better than my usual annual unpreparedness. Plus I have a food torch this year. A food torch makes all the difference.