Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving...and that it only happens once a year

Here are some photos of our quaint, picture-perfect Thanksgiving celebration in Lyon--complete with Tom Turkeys hand-crafted by the girls.

Pictures can be so deceiving.

Despite the very best of intentions, this Thanksgiving it felt like anything that could go wrong did. Up until about an hour before the feast, it seemed like we were doing pretty well. The house was clean, the table was set, the hors d'oeuvres were ready, the cheesecake was made, the sweet potato casserole was assembled, the potatoes were peeled... What could go wrong?

It started with a phone call. One of the couples (half of our guest list) was sick and wouldn't be able to come after all. Fortunately we found some other friends who were very happy to come and eat our food, but it was still a bit disappointing. There was no time to mope, however--I was off to the market to pick up the poultry. (Since we have a very small oven with no temperature control, we'd decided to replace the traditional turkey with rotisserie chicken in order to make life easier for ourselves.) The problem? There was NO MORE POULTRY! Even though I'd checked the day before to make sure that the meat counter was well stocked, all of the chickens were gone. You can limp by on Thanksgiving without the green beans, rolls, or even the mashed potatoes if you have to. But Thansksgiving without the bird? What were we to do...

In a panic, I ran home and asked Jason to lace up his running shoes and sprint to the big supermarket by the mall near our house. Meanwhile, I threw the sweet potatoes in the oven and lit all of the stove burners for mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. Since we don't have a microwave or even a crockpot, everything had to be done at the last minute so the food would be hot.

Unfortunately, while I went into high gear for cooking, the girls started getting antsy and impatient for attention. As soon as I got a movie started for them, the doorbell started buzzing with guests. Normally this wouldn't have been much of a problem. You see, Jason and I have a pretty good system worked out. While one of us is in the kitchen, the other one takes care of everything else. (We burn a lot less food this way...) Well, with Jason on an emergency search for the missing bird, I was in a panic trying to simultaneously play hostess, Mommy, and chef.

At last, Jason made it back and I was able to focus on the food. However, when I went to light one more burner so I could saute some onions, it wouldn't start. Incredibly, we were ALL OUT OF BUTANE! Our last tank lasted us two months. This one hadn't even made it three weeks. I was horrified. A peek into the oven showed that the sweet potatoes were merely lukewarm and I hadn't finished boiling the water for the Stove Top.

And so, Jason threw on his coat again to walk to the closest gas station to get another tank. Meanwhile, I awkwardly tried to make small talk in French, all the while fretting about the mashed potatoes that were getting cold.

By the time Jason got back and the rest of the food was finished, the potatoes were cold, as were the gravy and chicken. While overall we enjoyed the food and particularly the company, I felt twinges of disappointment and regret because I had tried so hard to prepare far ahead of time so that I could avoid such disasters. Every time I entertain, I feel like I am the bird that's running around like mad trying to avoid the chopping block.

Fortunately, Jason's AMAZING cheesecake saved the evening. He manages to pull off a stellar performance no matter what the continent or how different the ingredients. By the time dessert was over, we were all content in our post-Thanksgiving stupor. It took a lot of effort to throw off the lethargy, but we managed to wake up enough to play a few fun rounds of Pit.

And so, all in all, I suppose that our celebration wasn't SUCH a disaster after all. Still, I'm definitely grateful that Thanksgiving won't be here for another twelve months...


Anonymous said...

Hey, the parade of unanticipated obstacles made an otherwise predictable holiday even more memorable. Remember the Pilgrims didn't have microwaves, butane, or supermarkets ... and they were still thankful if you believe history. I bet it was a great holiday event. It is people, more than food that make memories (usually). You met the challenges with grace, intelligence and flexibility. Keep smiling!

Heather said...

Your table was set beautifully, the turkey's were adorable, the chicken was hot and yummy and I'm sure you were wonderful hosts. Who could ask for more? Your apartment looks absolutely lovely in the photos...keep looking past the obstacles and enjoying the small but great moments of every day! Miss you and love you all!

Anonymous said...

Oh meah. It's too bad that holidays engender stress...

Good it turned out well though.


The Favorite said...

Glad it all turned out, even with things going wrong. You had Thanksgiving in France- very cool!
You're invited over here next year.

Jackie said...

Yikes! What stress! If I were you I think it would take me a long time before I could look back and laugh at that experience... good thing you aren't me!