This year I am hosting Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, and I'm having a mild nervous breakdown. It's such an iconic meal, and there's a lot of pressure to get it right. Then, just to make sure I drive myself crazy, I asked extra people to join us, one of whom is a vegetarian.
But it's a family and friends kind of day, and I can't leave friends to celebrate alone. Besides, I see my family all the time, so the conversations will be more interesting if we add some new people to the mix. Possibly explosive if we let my liberal friend and my brother talk politics. Well, that's one way of making the holiday memorable.
On the plus side, the Thanksgiving menu is not terribly difficult, it's just large and dependent on good time management. (And mom is bringing the cranberries, so that's one less thing I have to make.) Since I'm having a vegetarian this year I've added my apple/leek casserole to the line up and I'm making the stuffing without chicken stock. Everybody should be happy with the food.
I've been thinking about serving dishes, what I have, what I can borrow. Will I bother with a center piece? (No.) Should I get some crystal to go with the china? (Probably, but this year the glasses are from IKEA.) How much food is enough? How much is too much? I realize that I'm being ridiculous, that I will have eight (eight!) separate dishes (including pie) and that I've managed Christmas with half that. But I still find myself obsessing.
In addition to the meal, I'm looking at my house and wondering if there is some magic spell or something to keep pets from shedding, just for a couple of days. Why do I have such a ridiculously narrow table? (Seriously, I can't find tablecloths to fit it.) Why did I spend money on a vacation instead of window treatments for the living room?
Then there is animal management. My guest are bringing a dog, so the cats will have to be corralled and the house dog proofed. (Not that big a deal, I long ago put fragile things inside cabinets or up very high. Cats can be just as destructive to one's belongings.) It's going to be chilly, should I put a blanket outside for the dog?
Deep breath. It's all going to be okay.
Do I have to make gravy?