The holidays are hard for people even when you aren’t a holidays-are-hard-person. You always want them to be perfect, yet they rarely are at all. It’s human nature and accepting we don’t live in a Hallmark movie set.
Thanksgiving is the seasonal kick-off to weeks of we want familial perfection. Only have you met a perfect family? I haven’t.
The holidays are romanticized and commercialized to such an extent that we think we have to be perfect every year or the world might end as we know it. I am no exception.
Last Thanksgiving was the year of the turkey that would not cook. My husband wanted to put it in the oven at one time, and me another. In the end he had his time choice and then it was like a comedy of errors courtesy of the turkey gods. We ate late, and had turkey consternation.
Please note that according to Sunset Magazine:
For a 10-13 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 350° oven for 1 1/2-2 1/4 hr.
For a 14-23 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 2-3 hr.
For a 24-27 lb. turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3-3 3/4 hr.
For a 28-30 lb turkey (weight with giblets): Bake in a 325° oven for 3 1/2-4 1/2 hr.
Times are for unstuffed birds. A stuffed bird may cook at the same rate as an unstuffed one; however, be prepared to allow 30 to 50 minutes longer. While turkeys take about the same time to roast in regular and convection heat, a convection oven does a better job of browning the bird all over.
This year we are starting the turkey earlier and I think I am doing the dressing outside of the turkey. This year, I also need help since I have managed to tear the meniscus in my other knee. When I tore my meniscus in the other knee a couple of years ago, my meniscus waited until well after the holidays.
Translation? I will also need more help at Christmas and I won’t be cooking dinner for around 14 people. Maybe having that break is a good thing, but I actually like doing Christmas dinner. Cooking for people at Christmas is one of my favorite presents to give.
This also means I will be decorating differently. And more simply. It might kill me. No not really, but my inner Christmas elf might revolt. Sigh…and fewer kinds of Christmas cookies will be baked too.
Asking for help and knowing you need help is not the easiest realization. Again, I am definitely no exception. But I guess when you need it, it’s a lesson in working together and trust. Admitting I will need some help this time around for the holidays is maddening. Trust me. There is so much to do.
The other thing about the holidays is giving back. How do you give back? Do you volunteer at a shelter? Cook meals for the less fortunate? Donate to a toy drive? I don’t think it matters what or how much you do as long as you pay it forward in some small way. And it doesn’t have to be publicized for thousands of atta’ boys or atta’ girls, just do it to pay the magic in this season forward.
And back to the Hallmark movie versions of the holidays. I love my Hallmark Christmas movies, don’t misunderstand me. But it’s a little unrealistic. From the apartments and homes that 20-something characters have (in places like New York City and Chicago no less!), to the always perfect hair, perfect coupling up and don’t forget Hallmark movie characters don’t have sex ever, or show too much boob in their Christmas party dresses…it’s like life in a snow globe.
A delightful time warp bubble that transports us for a while from everyday life. But hey now, everyday life is not so bad, flaws and all. And we all have to acknowledge and accept as nice as those saccharine sweet made for TV holiday moments are, do we really want to trade that for our own realities? I mean sure it would be especially nice if the kitchen cleaned up itself magically after holiday meals, but as for the rest of it? Maybe let it inspire a tablescape or other decorations, but don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. I know because somehow I do it every year. Holiday Perfectionists Anonymous come on down!
This year I aim to be a little different. It might kill me, but I will try. Meanwhile, I will be sure to look for all the perfect holiday tableaux as seen on social media, knowing full well reality might be a lot different.
Don’t Botox your holiday social media. It’s actually o.k. to be less than perfect, look less than perfect. And I have to laugh because any time I personally express a less than perfect social media persona it starts.
“Are you ok?”
“Did you see what she posted?”
Lord love a duck, it’s quite all right to be human. Have a bad day occasionally. My plastic surgeon and professional stylists tribe are on vacay, ok? Sometimes I do not have a village, and it’s just me not wearing make-up…. (a cardinal sin in the eyes of my mother who told us never to go to the grocery store without lipstick years ago.)
And the holiday race for more social media “friends”? Oh resist. The real ones are so much better. Truth. I have started turning people down and culling the herd. I don’t need neighbors of people I barely know as friends and if I did not like you in high school and you didn’t like me, well not to be mean but why do I need to be part of your people collection?
And that is what I always find fascinating about social media. The fakeness of it. Especially when you know it’s so far removed from the truth. And that fakeness factor increases around the holidays because so many people have a hard time for a multitude of reasons.
So I guess I am saying slow down and appreciate what we have in this world. You don’t have to fake it until you make it. You can admit you love the holidays knowing it might have a couple of flaws.
Love the holidays for what they are. Don’t resent them for what they aren’t.
And pay it forward.
Enjoy the magic of the season. It’s totally there when you stop stressing over perfection. Have you seen my lipstick? I need to go to the grocery store…..
The Sunset magazine cooking times seem short. Many references cite 13 minutes per pound (unstuffed) with a preheated oven at 450 deg F, reducing to 350 deg F when turkey is put into the over. This would be approximately 2-1/2 hours for a 12# bird unstuffed.