7 yrs ago (almost to the day), I sat miserably, very sick with the flu in a small family room adjacent to the Special Care Unit where my newborn baby boy was being looked after. This is a whole other story. One that I should really document before the memories escape me... but the short of it is that he had a bad case of jaundice and an infection. While I had been discharged, he had to stay to recieve around the clock light therapy for a week.
Despite being plagued by a terrible flu, I had insisted that he room in with me as I was really struggling to nurse him because the nurses kept shoving bottles in him. On top of that, I had my 17 month old baby at home an hour away. I had never spent a single night away from her before. I missed her terribly and cried when she wouldn't even so much as look at me when they came to visit. (She was so mad at me!) Although we had family that offered to help look after Muffin here and there, my poor husband was left to try and hold everything together and having to balance his work, with looking after Muffin and his sick wife and newborn that were an hour away. It was not a good time for any of us.
It was during this week that I was notified that we were to host Dan's family Christmas. It was all I could do to muster the strength to get myself dressed and fed after taking care of a newborn who required feedings on the dot at every third hour, followed by 45 minutes of pumping - all while being so sick. Unfortunately, I didn't get any nursing care at this time, or food. No catering to the Mom, I was a guest. Pout. :'( I had no help, and I have to admit ... I only ate what Dan brought me from the cafeteria every night. He would bring me extra stuff that would keep with no refrigeration and I would nibble on it during the day. (Literally because I was just too sick to seek out the cafeteria on my own!) I was forced to eat cheese by the slice for breakfast (and I do not like cheese on it's own!), and lunch was usually a granola bar and a apple sauce. Just writing this is bringing back all the emotion. *Sniff. I was a sad state. ( I would never have admitted it to anyone though - but it was a low for sure.)...
Wow, to get back on track - SO, as I was saying - It was all I could do to look after myself and the baby, let alone conceive of hosting a dinner for 16. I think I cried for most of the day when I was told this. I was lacking strength, sleep, and sanity to even imagine how I would pull off a turkey dinner for that many people in our small 1200 sq. foot condo, with a table that sat 6, dinnerware for 8, a frequent nursing newborn and a 17 month tugging at me.
Looking back on it, springing this news on a 3 day postpartum Mom who's baby is sick in the hospital was probably not the best idea. I likely would have been better to digest it, had it been at least 2 weeks postpartum. Looking back on it, I should have stood up for myself and just said no. But I didn't... and the worry and the anxiety stayed with me for quite awhile.
As I was crying the blues to my old boss a couple weeks later, her sister had overheard. Her sister was a caterer. She offered to cook the dinner for me at cost of the price of the turkey. She was my Christmas Angel that year. I eagerly accepted and tossed out any and all concern I had about how well my turkey secret would be recieved by the family. This was really the best that I could do with what I had... and this was the only way turkey would get to any plate.
Luckily, we had found out that a party room was available for rent in our condo complex and it was complete with a kitchen! All I had to do was set the table, prepare the mashed potatoes, and a veggie side dish, (as 2 others were being brought in by the family)... and that was it.
Let me tell you, this was the best Christmas ever. I was able to sit and relax, look after my babies and just take it all in. It was so nice to actually be 'present' for the games, and the gift openings instead of running all over to check the turkey, make gravy etc.
I have played the turkey rigamarole for 5 years straight now, and it always follows a Christmas Eve where my apron does not come off - sitting is not an option, as I pull one appetizer after another out of the oven - from noon to 10 pm. Needless to say, I'm a bit pooped by Christmas morning... and I always struggle to get back into my apron and do it all over again.
This year... we are doing something different. I don't know what, but I have promised myself a year off. No turkey. I will do the Christmas Eve appies, as it has become a tradition and I do enjoy it... but I am taking Christmas day off to spend with my children. Yay! That feels so good. I want to be able to wake up to my Coffee con Baileys (or Baileys con Coffee... ha!), watch the kids open their presents, and then I am not going to stuff no bird. No sir. I am going to help my kids put together their new toys, try out their new sleds etc and build a huge snowman. Then, I'm going to make some hot chocolate... sit by the fire and snuggle up with my family.
I don't care if someone chooses to take over the Turkey Chef role, if it is catered, if we order pizza or if we heat up one of these:
I really don't care. Turkey is so overrated. You spend 6 hours cooking and slaving over the stove and at least an hour cleaning, all for 20 minutes of eating. The benefits just do not support the effort required. In my mind anyway!
To all those Mom's out there who are captives to their stoves on Christmas day... I urge you to abolish Turkey slaving for one year! Just one year. Take it off. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your family. Enjoy your children.