So, Thanksgiving is racist. We can all agree on that. In the past, I have refused to celebrate it, but then I discovered the only thing that accomplished was depriving my family of my presence and mashed potato-eating abilities (of course, I was a vegetarian at the time), and depriving me of an opportunity to pause and be grateful for 10 minutes before moving on to the next thing. Since then, I have come to embrace it. You know, sort of.
I would say one of the things that sucks the most in life is having to share the kids on the holidays, including Thanksgiving. This one and the 4th of July are particularly difficult to stomach, since their “other parent” (i.e., not my wife, but the OTHER other parent) is not American. So they don’t have family traditions, etc. over at that house. Meanwhile, my wife and I are cooking a turkey for ourselves. Or, getting blindingly drunk with our friends while watching fireworks, whatever. Some holidays are easier to manage than others.
Anyway, back to the point at hand, which is that we don’t have the kids for Thanksgiving this year. Sad. So, my wife wanted to celebrate by having a Thanksgiving-esque dinner at our house tonight, but only without a turkey, because (1) we didn’t want to steal the real-Thanksgiving thunder, and (2) the kids, frankly, do not want to have two Thanksgivings. They want one, on the actual day, and then okay, do something Thanksgiving-like with the other set of parents. But you can really only handle so much turkey in one week.
So, my wife wanted to cook something that would have actually been eaten in 1621. Isn’t that ambitious? She decided, after some quick internet research, that this was either duck, quail, or venison. Since the kids are anti-duck (don’t ask me why they’ve eaten duck when I haven’t even eaten duck, let’s just suffice it to say that they have, and they were not fans), and we thought quail could be hard to come by, that left us with venison. Specifically, that left us with this venison stew:
This is a wild mushroom and venison stew, created by Emeril, recipe/credits here. Alright, we think. We head to Fairway to buy the requisite wild mushrooms, parsnips, venison, and other odd whathaveyous that the recipe calls for. We do not come up with veal stock (WTF, is that a thing?) and we do not come up with venison. At least, not enough venison. We do come up with one package of venison chops (12 oz) and some buffalo meat. My wife decides the buffalo is “close enough” to venison, so we toss it in the cart and out we go.
When we get home, we notice this review, that the stew is fabulous, here are some tips, oh, and by the way, “[t]his is intermediate level cooking. If you are a beginner try another recipe.” Um, what? You would think we would have been tipped off by the exotic ingredients, but we were looking it up on our phone on the way to the store, so, you know. We weren’t.
Undaunted, I rolled up my sleeves to make this last night after the kids went to bed, because unlike the real Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving-esque is on a school-and-work night. Which means it needs to be finished by sticking it in the oven to warm it up, not cooked from scratch immediately before eating. That’s when we noticed that the prep time was 2 hours and 45 minutes. Because of this, I opted to just dive right in and start cooking shit, rather than chopping up all the millions of vegetables ahead of time. It went… okay? I guess? I didn’t exactly “dice” the things that called for dicing, but a coarse chopping will do fine, right?
Somewhere around 11:30, when it was all finished, I checked my work email. Unbeknownst to me, there was a bunch of work-crap happening between 10 and 11:30. Whoops. Thankfully, the other associate resolved it, otherwise I would have had the opportunity to START WORKING again at 11:30. The law firm is a cruel and unusual place.
My point, really, is this. Being a working parent is sometimes the most horrible, difficult, exhausting thing. There is never enough time for anything, so you just cut out sleep, trying to add more hours into the day. After all the stew hullabaloo last night, we also had to get up to drop our car off for new tires at 7 am (we had a flat, so it couldn’t wait anymore). After we dropped our car off for the tires this morning, my wife left for work and I got the two elementary-aged kids ready for school. And THEN I realized I had no car to take them in. So, we walked. Even though it was too late for that, even thought it was freezing out, and it was a cello day, and we could only find one mitten for one of them. We just dealt with it, and we laughed the whole way there, talking about squirrels and their nut-finding abilities, and a hawk that flew over my daughter’s head while she played on her friend’s trampoline, and balancing on the curb even though we had no time for that.
And I realize that this is the stuff that kids remember. Holidays, yes. But also how hard we try to make things special for them, and the crazy things we introduce them to, and how we live our life, taking what comes, fitting it all in, doing it all, even if we sometimes do it all poorly and half-assed and exhausted. My kids will be flexible, they will take life as it comes and roll with the punches, they will just use buffalo instead and walk to school on a cello day. This is Thanksgiving in our house, because this is life in our house.