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Subject:  Thanksgiving Dinner... Date:  11/26/2002  10:35 AM
Author:  sonofed Number:  11674 of 53867

I'm excited about dinner this Thursday. I'm really looking forward to it. It may seem a little silly to be this excited over one meal, but this Thnaksgiving is special. You see, this Thanksgiving, for the first time in 9 years, I'll actually get to eat a meal I will enjoy. Yes, for the first time since I met my wife, we'll be cooking our own Thanksgiving turkey instead of going to her mother's house.

Now, I'm not one of those guys who attacks his mother-in-law. I like my in-laws and they like me. That doesn't mean, however, that they have any idea at all how to cook. Last year's Thanksgiving celebration was the straw that broke the camel's back.

You see, my in-laws have been married for almost 50 years. They have used every minute of those 50 years developing their own peculiar system for interacting with each other. For the most part, their system is to annoy each other by giving each other unsolicited and unwanted advice on everything from how to drive to how to dress to what to watch on TV. Now that's fine, and I'm sure it helps them pass the time in their retirement, but it really isn't the best system for cooking a dinner, especially when you're going to force your entire family to eat it.

This story is presented without exxageration of any kind, I assure you.

So there we were, last Thanksgiving at my in-laws house...

As we walked into the house, we could hear a discussion going on between my father-in-law (hereafter FIL) and my mother-in-law (hereafter MIL) in the kitchen. They were preparing the vegetables. FIL cut up the potatoes and the squash and plopped them into pots of water for boiling. Half way through the boiling process, MIL came back into the room.

"FIL", she said, "Don't forget to add the spices to the squash as you mash it up, and remember to put the light cream and pepper in the potatoes."

"How many of these dinners have I cooked?", replied FIL.

"Yes dear", said MIL, "And how many times have you forgotten the spices and the cream?"

"Fine!", replied FIL, "You do it then, you know so much."

"Oh, no", said MIL, "you take care of it. I'm sure it will be fine"

The end result - nobody touched the potatoes or the squash throughout the rest of the preparation. In fact, the squash and the potatoes were served exactly as they were cooked - big chunks of each, with no flavoring of any kind. Well, at lest we didn't have to worry about getting all the lumps out.

Next came the stuffing. As it turned out, MIL was supposed to pick up stuffing ingredients, but she had forgotten. Rather than face the inevitable lecture from FIL, she claimed she had gotten ingredients to make her special signature stuffing. Now, it may have been special, but I don't think any rational person would want to put their signature on it. The ingredient list was as follows:

2 pounds ground beef - Yes, I'm not kidding. She was going to stuff a turkey with ground beef.
1 chopped onion
a couple stalks of celery
assorted spices

Okay, so like I said, I'm not a chef, but it looked to me like she was planning on stuffing a turkey with a meatloaf. I left the kitchen to go figure out the time and distance to the nearest McDonalds, hoping that the Dunkin Donuts bagel I ate for breakfast on the way down would be enough to hold me over.

Anyway, FIL didn't come back into the kitchen during the stuffing preparation, and I certainly wasn't going to get involved, so into the turkey went the meatloaf.

Now, I'm no chef, but it was 10:00 AM and we were supposed to eat at 1:00 PM - there was no way a 25 pound turkey was going to cook in 3 hours. FIL came back into the room to relay that tidbit of information and to make a few helpful suggestions to help speed the preparation process. A furious debate ensued. Now since it was a) not getting any earlier, and b) apparent that neither MIL and FIL were going to start cooking the turkey until one or the other of them backed down, I took matters into my own hands. I sent my 3 year old in to ask grammy to help her color. Grammy left the kitchen. Glowing with victory, FIL popped the turkey into the oven. Of course, he was worried about time now as well, since he had just won a battle where he insisted he could cook a 25 pound turkey in a couple of hours. He decided to make up for lost time by turning up the heat from 350 to 500 degrees. I started to tell him that that wasn't going to work, but my wife waved me off. No point in getting in the middle of a 50 year old ritual...

Okay, so next came the rolls. FIL had mercifully bought "ready to bake" Pillsbury dinner rolls, so we were spared eating his "signature bread recipe". The only issue was that his house only has one oven, and that oven was currently set to "inferno" to help speed the turkey along. He figured he could pop the rolls in anyway and just shorten the cooking time. This time, I tried to intercede. Things were getting out of hand and