Friday, November 27, 2009

But Miss Scarlet, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no turkeys!

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. I'm not a fan of turkey, and the holiday usually involves fitting too many people in too small of an area. Since my husband's side of the family is divorced and remarried, we rotate every 3 years with which side we celebrate. This year was my mom's turn.

Now my side of the family is rather small: two sisters (one of which is the black sheep no one likes) and my mother and her caregiver du jour (she has Alzheimer's and 24/7 care). Having OD'd on family gatherings for awhile, my husband, daughter and I were really, really tempted to tell all 3 sides it was one of the other's turn - who would know? Being threatened by my good sister that she'd kill me if I left her just with my mom and other sister, we caved in. Thanksgiving is set to be at my house, and all the dishes are divvied up between us 3 sisters. I'm in charge of salad, side dishes, appetizers, Black Sheep has dessert duty, and good sister will be bringing over her turkey fryer and will deep fry the turkey and make the dressing. Flash forward to 4:00pm the Wednesday before. My niece calls me to tell me that Good Sister went to the ER with food poisoning the night before, and won't be attending. This is the sister who had turkey duty!I've never, ever made a turkey in my life - I'm now totally panicked at the thought that I have to cook a successful turkey, and endure an evening of just my Black Sheep sister, my husband and daughter, and my mother who is incapable of following a conversation. Remember how I just said Thanksgiving was never one of my favorite holidays to begin with? I said to myself (after an hour of panicked tweets), "Self, calm down. You can do this." In the meantime, my daughter is imploring me to dontate the turkey to the homeless and go back to Plan A of running away. It's sounding very tempting, but I've commited myself, and can't back out now. It occurs to me that my mother wouldn't really know the difference, I don't really care how Black Sheep would feel, so this is all pretty much for my mother's caregiver, whom we really like. But onward I will march.

Most of my friends on Twitter are sympathetic and tossing out ideas for me: call Vons and get a pre-cooked turkey, heat it for 2 hours. Run to Boston Market. Thank heavens my sister had no room in her fridge for a turkey, so I already had that. Have any idea how hard it would have been to find an unfrozen small turkey at 5:00pm the Wednesday before?

A friend of mine had posted on Facebook that he was smoking his turkey this year. Hmmm... a turkey is just basically a large chicken, right? I can smoke a chicken on the bbq! I furiously text Joel, and ask him the details. How long do I smoke it? What kind of chips should I use? I immediately dash off to Barbeques Galore to buy a hefty 25 pound bag of lump charcoal, some pecan rub, and apple chips before they close in 30 minutes. I'm wondering if it doesn't look crispy enough when done if I can't add a little of my bronzer on it to make it at least look good. Maybe some eyeshadow and liner to lighten up the evening. If it doesn't come out, there's always frozen pizzas.

Here's the turkey an hour and a half into cooking it. I forgot that you don't need all 3 hours worth of lump charcoal added all at once. It's cooking just a wee bit too fast. Thanksgiving lunch anyone? The turkey was done in a mere 2 1/2 hours (Joel's, btw, took 5 1/2 for the same size turkey). Fortunately, the gathering is relatively small in size, and a few quick calls and the start time got moved up.

The brie cheese with apples, almonds and cranberries came out wonderfully as an appetizer (sorry, no pic on that one). Not that I cared much by then, as I had broken into the cranberry margaritas while panicking watching my turkey cook too fast. And I don't drink! But when all was said and done, the turkey tasted delicious - and I had gotten over the hurdle of feeling like a newlywed faced with her first Thanksgiving meal. The family all got along without any squabbles, and short of starting early and ending early (why is it that 7:00pm on Thanksgiving feels like 11:00?), it all went off without a hitch. For this, I am thankful.

And how was YOUR Thanksgiving celebration?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Every 15 Minutes...

OK, this post has absolutely nothing to do with beauty. It's about something even more near and dear to my heart than anything else in the world: my about-to-be 16 year old daughter. Today and tomorrow, her school is doing a program called "Every 15 Minutes". Every 15 minutes, a person is killed in the US as a result of an alcohol related accident. The dangers of drinking and driving is graphically illustrated through dramatizations on campus, put together by our local sheriff and fire departments. I remember when I was 16. I was invincible. I truly believed that nothing could hurt me; you were supposed to live until some ripe old age; you didn't die at 16 or 18.

Here's how the program is played out: Every 15 minutes throughout the school day, randomly selected students will be removed from their class. After being escorted out by the grim reaper, a Sheriff's Deputy will arrive on the scene and read the now dead student's obituary to the class. That obituary is posted in the classroom as a reminder to all of what was and might have been for that student. The student will be gone for the rest of the day, and is sequestered in a local hotel tonight with no cell phone and no communication with anyone. By 8:30am, my daughter texted me that she had already lost two of her friends. The girl who sits in front of her had already lost 4 of her best friends, and was sobbing uncontrollably. I replied to her that I hope the message being delivered hits home for her - she gets her drivers license in less than two weeks, so this could not have been timed better.

Tomorrow, there will be a memorial service held for all the students who lost their lives on campus today. Hopefully, the kids will reflect upon what was and could have been. More emotional and real for the kids (since all they hear from adults is "blah blah blah") will be from the students who participated. They will be sharing their thoughts and emotions of the previous 24 hours through letters written by them to their parents and family.

I think that this is a wonderful program that will emotionally touch the kids, and hopefully will remain with them deep down inside for many years to come. I don't want to lose my daughter before she has had the chance to live to her full potential.


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