being a mom

Cheatsgiving: A Survival Guide For Families Who Make Thanksgiving Their Christmas

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165515507 copyThere are many people who go over the top for Christmas. I have Facebook friends who put up their tree the day after Halloween. Some people make meticulous shopping lists, decorate their houses from top to bottom, and fit every square foot of their front yard with blow-up snow globes and Christmas pigs. People see these Christmas crazies and barely bat an eye. It’s fairly common to go over the top at Christmastime.

(Image: Amazon)

(Image: Amazon)

But there are a select few who go overboard for another holiday- who essentially make Thanksgiving their Christmas. My husband is a member of this Turkey Tribe. He ordered our bird from the Amish on November 2.  He got a three slotted crockpot for hot dips back in October. He has a tablecloth, cloth napkins and a chef coat reserved only for the fourth Thursday in November. The man sent out a typed, two page menu last Sunday, and then sent it out again yesterday because he edited a dessert. He is a man obsessed, and I have learned a few things along the way to help enjoy the ride.

Prior to the event:

Ask your guests to contribute something to the meal. You can be as specific (but maybe not this specific) as you would like. My family has a variety of tastes- some of our guests are hardcore “farm to table” while others are vegetarians. By opening it up to guests to bring an appetizer or a side, you help your guests guarantee there is something available for them that they like. This also means that both the goat cheese and beet salad and “Pete’s Tater Balls” have the opportunity to shine on your eclectic menu. If you roll the dice and ask guests to bring “whatever,” you could end up with 9 bottles of wine. This is also a win.

Next, from November 15th on, every time you are at the store, purchase either plastic wrap, aluminum foil or some Ziplock containers. If the cashier suspects you are fashioning tin foil hats in your spare time, you are doing your job. If you can manage, go with name brand stuff. That way, you avoid the meltdown that comes when the mushroom risotto spills onto the cheesecake in the messy refrigerator aftermath of the meal.

Finally, if you have guests coming in from out of town, find a “Turkey Trot 5k” on Thursday morning. That way, all of your relatives who can’t help but post their workouts on Facebook have something to do, and your cousin who never turned down a free T-shirt has motivation to be out of the house. It helps if the Turkey Trot has some sort of “Family 1K” walk component, so that you can get as many people out of the house as possible.  No one wants to entertain Uncle Zac while also trying to prepare sweet potatoes for 12. Wave them out the door and tell someone to pick up some ice and a pack of butter on the way home.  You can never have too much butter or ice at Thanksgiving.

During the event:

Have appetizers. Hell, just have beer and crackers set up somewhere far, far away from the kitchen. Because if you don’t, people will start to congregate in the kitchen itself, and your husband, who just wants to eat the turkey neck (or three turkey necks, because my husband buys EXTRAS) in peace is going to start rage smashing the potatoes and it’s all downhill from there.

Rent a bounce house. Yeah, that’s what we are doing this year. I don’t care if it’s freezing- the kids are gonna put on their winter’s best and five pairs of socks a piece and have at it, for hours. We budget the crap out of Christmas and don’t even buy each other gifts to make it work. But I am willing to have “meatless Monday, Wednesday and Friday” for a few weeks if it means the five children under seven will have somewhere to go. What if it rains? Don’t even put that out there. That’s not even funny.

Hire your sullen teenage niece to take pictures on your phone. Give her full reign to Instagram the crap out of them.  Give her five dollars if she can get Nana to take a selfie.

After the event:

Let the dog out of your room. Let him have at the scraps from the under kids’ table. Everyone wins, unless he throws up.

Fuel up at midnight to prepare for Friday’s shopping.

Don’t forget to write a note to the babysitter– “The pitcher in the refrigerator is NOT LEMONADE. It is apple pie Sangria. Please do not give to kids.”  Then get out there and fight for Big Hugs Elmo. Maybe pick up some more Reynolds’s Wrap. You’re probably out.

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