Every year, the holidays stress me out, but not for the reasons you probably think. I’m not traveling anywhere, I don’t have that many gifts to buy. What stresses me out is the food. I am a champ at eating, but I suck at making it.
First stressor is Thanksgiving. We like a formal dinner with table cloths and crystal, fine foods and wine. I have to bring something, and I always bring the booze. I don’t want to be the one who brings the booze, but someone has to do it, I am always assigned it, because there is absolutely no confidence from any quarter that I can bring a dish worthy of our Thanksgiving table. I mean a dish with fancy edible food in it. I want to bring a dish, I want to be that person. But I’m not yet.
Then comes the Christmas parties. Once again, everyone brings gourmet holiday delights, usually in the form of divinity, or Christmas tree cheesecakes, and I bring the booze. “Yeah!” says everyone when I show up with my bottles of wine. “Anh,” I think when I offer them up. I want to bring the cakes shaped like Santa. I want to be the one to whip up the meat stewed in beer and spooned into artisan bread with a dollop of cheese on top. But I don’t, because I don’t know how to stew meat in beer, and I definitely do not know where to buy artisan bread. If it’s not in plastic, it’s nowhere on my radar.
And finally, there is Christmas. This the meal where we have all the family favorites, dishes handed down for generations. Some are good. Some are really just not. Some of it is out of a can (cranberry sauce) because we didn’t know it came any other way. If you guessed that I bring the booze, you’d be right. I would really like to be the one to bring a healthy alternative to the jello mold, or the garlic-cheese mashed potatoes, or the English pea salad swimming in mayo. But I am pretty sure no one wants the bland potatoes I make at home (steamed), so I somehow soldier through the garlic-cheese mashed potatoes. I choke down the pies and cakes and cherry pudding. I take a deep breath and swallow chunks of my mom’s homemade rolls.
I am already stressing about Thanksgiving, trying to think of something, anything, that I could manage. I know many of you will offer recipes, but I think I should warn you–one of the reasons I am no good at the food thing is because I have no patience for it, and no equipment to make it. I don’t know where my pans are, and I’m not sure what all the buttons on my oven are for. If the ingredient list is more than five items, forget it–I develop a mad case of ADD. I said I want to be that person who brings the good food. But I didn’t say I want to make it .
What stresses you out about the holiday season? What is your family gathering forte? Do you bring food or booze, do you host or do you attend, and what are you looking forward to most this year?