It was the receptionist at my dad’s doctor’s office who gave me my first clue.
“We’ll call you back right away,” she assured me. “In the meantime, have a wonderful day and happy holidays!”
“Oh, uh … yeah … thank you, you too!” I managed before I hung up.
Happy holidays? Were we really at that point in the year?
Normally, I would be aware of this, even if not particularly enthusiastic. I’m not a Christmas person, really, but I’m typically not blindsided by it.
But this year, with everything going on in my personal life as well as the world at large, it kind of crept up on me. Even while I know it’s mid-November, a part of my brain is still stuck back in March or April.
My dad is still pretty sick much of the time. We’re still hiding from the world, more or less. I haven’t eaten at a restaurant, gone to Target or the mall, or packed my kids’ backpacks and lunches since March 13. I have a clear memory of trying to make a meatloaf in early April and ending up slumped against my counter sobbing with existential dread. In some ways, that feels like a long, long time ago. In some ways, it feels like I’m still there, feeling the cool granite against my wet, snot-smeared cheek.
A quick glance at my calendar tells me that this is traditionally the week I would be test-driving Thanksgiving recipes, trying soups to see if something might supplant the pumpkin-and-black bean soup I serve every year before the main course, bookmarking recipes both on the internet and in beloved, stained old cookbooks.
But this year, why bother? We’re not having anyone over except maybe our parents for some socially distant pie and coffee outside if the weather allows. There is always way too much food in a normal year with guests at our table; this year it would be almost obscenely wasteful to roast an entire turkey along with sides for just our small family of five.
And yet when I saw the New York Times’ suggestions for “sheet pan suppers for a scaled-down turkey day” or whatever they headlined it, I was depressed. I don’t want to make Thanksgiving dinner on a sheet pan.
When you add in the extra complication of Ruby getting her braces on this Wednesday, I lose all motivation to cook anything traditionally Thanksgiving-y. She hates stuffing and sweet potatoes, and I doubt she’ll feel up to gnawing on a turkey leg by Thanksgiving.
So maybe we’ll come up with a new tradition – Thanksgiving smoothie bowls maybe? Thanksgiving fried rice? Thanksgiving frozen yogurt?
If anyone has any suggestions for good food to eat with new braces and/or Thanksgiving ideas that don’t involve a single sheet pan, please leave them for me in the comments.
Until then … happy holidays, I guess.