I won't lie. That first dinner was barely adequate. The potatos were lumpy, I think the stuffing was Stovetop, and everything else was just passable. An excellent first attempt.
And it is, to this day, one of the best memories of Thanksgivings dinners that were full of warmth and love and too much food followed by pie. For a day, I helped my friends, and especially myself, feel a little bit more at home in the world.
That's a big deal in your twenties.
Needless to say, ah, you could say I've improved from that day. (And that would be a screaming understatement LOL)
What started out as a dinner between friends, became an open dinner for anyone who was alone and needed company that day. A day where even if I hadn't met you before, from that day on, you were a member of my chosen family. Because the people that would turn up with established friends, always turned out to be as dear as the ones they came with.
What started out as cooking on the day of, over the years gained a day or two here. Because as the number grew from four to at its highest 35, I started to teach myself more dishes and refined my techniques. Now I start prep a full week before the day of dinner.
Yes, you read that right. A full week.
There's good reason for that. The annual menu now includes the biggest fucking turkey I can find that year (24 is ideal, but I'd really love to get 30 pounder some day, CACKLE), the usual sides, AND chicken and beef liver pate, cakes, banana bread, pies, cookies, and if I end up having five minutes, a cheese and veggie plate and deviled eggs. And people still bring food if they want to.
So let that sink in for a minute.
Because this year is different. This year, I knew and know that I could not do all the work that I did before. There was no way. I just can't work like that anymore. So for the first time since that first dinner, I've cut back and streamlined. Dropped the pate, because I don't currently have a working food processor (that alone was a huge gain of time, it's a complicated dish), dropped the cakes, and only made two batches of chocolate chip cookies, versus my usual raft of dozens of those, sugar, peanut butter, and whatever new cookie recipe had caught my eye.
Yes, I was fucking nuts.
And it made and makes me stupid happy to do this every year. I can't even tell you. This is one of the great touchstones of my life.
Cutting back was really fucking hard for me, because I felt like I would be letting everyone down. Don't worry, Sane Anji pointed out that I always make too much fucking food, and there was a good chance no one would even notice, let alone care. The priority was to do the dinner without murdering my sanity and mood.
So here we are.
Final prep day.
I get the lesson now, Lady. Trust people to help when they actually show up to help, and know that I can’t do everything on my own. Except if no one shows up, figure out a way to do it by myself. Don’t let their lack of support or apathy drag me down. In short…
Fuck the crab pot.
Fuck the crab pot.
Roger that. I copy loud and clear.
Now understand that yesterday, I did not take timed breaks and ended really hurting my right shoulder due to recalcitrant ancient flour and an equally ancient flour sifter. Don't ask. It was an ugly three hours. So by bedtime, I was in fucking pain. Well, cannabis to the rescue.
Between taking a serious hit before bed and having the Husband put the Whoopi & Maya cannabis salve on my back, I am tender today, but not racked in pain. I've been diligent about setting my timers and sitting often and taking Advil and my dose frequently, Oh, and mostly use my left hand for heavy duty. (Thank Crom for ambidexterity)
So far, I've got one pie in the oven, and just walked away to take my break from slicing apples for crumble and pie. I'd call the experiment a success.
But all of this spawned some heavy thinking this morning. Specifically...
Man, the fucking arrogance of “Let nothing stop you.” Yeah, if you are completely healthy and able-bodied, and/or are born with enough support and care, you totes can go balls to the walls. There are people behind you who will catch you if you fall.
Then there’s the rest of us, who I’ve joined and didn’t understand and couldn’t believe when they said that they couldn't do things, because frankly, I saw how much it was a lie when it came out of my mother. I just missed that that piece of data was specific to her. You can’t help someone who won’t help themselves.
It wasn’t a universal.
So, yeah, some grace and compassion for myself. There’s no way I could have known any of that. A) I was a kid in a hideously abusive household and B) I was a fucking kid! Jesus Christ, give myself a fucking break, guys! We don’t expect that kind of cognitive burden from a child! It doesn’t matter if they’re a prodigy! (And I wasn't) That shit will burn them the fuck out.
I didn’t know and I couldn’t know.
I know now. And knowing what I know, I can take this knowledge back to the world of the abled and finally explain in terms that they can understand what it’s like to be caged by disabilities that you have no control over and that on some days, make you just want to scream with rage, pain, and frustration. How everything in your life requires a work around, life hacking every minute of every day for the rest of your life. Because for some of these things, there is no cure and in some other cases, they would refuse a "cure" because y'know what?
We're not broken.
We're just different.
I can tell people that. I can do that.
Lots to be grateful for. And grateful for you. Especially you. You keep me breathing.
* I had a footnote in mind earlier, but it has gone walkies. Oh well! It's gone now! :)