We aren’t doing the turkey thing here at Casa de Wyatt this year. In fact, we’re having a very quiet Thanksgiving dinner. The kids both have other families to spend the holiday with this year and will be doing their feasting somewhere else. I don’t know where and didn’t ask, I just know it isn’t here. Don’t get me wrong, I love them and am always glad to see them. I’m just thankful that they have happy and fulfilling lives that sometimes don’t include my wife and I. Especially when it involves days of preparation, a few hours of camaraderie, followed by days of clean-up.
We are having my in-laws over for dinner and probably would not be doing even that much except they live next door would be very disappointed if we didn’t invite them. So we are cooking, just not a feast. Of course, that didn’t stop my wife from doubling the recipe, and that’s where things first started to wrong.
We aren’t exactly traditionalists around here. Our Thanksgiving dinner this year is a hearty vegetable soup. It’s tasty, healthy and virtually guarantees the kids won’t change their plans and show up for dinner. The plan was to chop up some veggies, open some cans and dump it all in the crock pot. But there isn’t a crock pot on the planet big enough for all the veggies my wife bought. We spent all these years laboring under the assumption that we cook a lot of food at Thanksgiving because of all the people coming over. It turns out that the the reason to invite a lot of people over is because of a natural compulsion to cook massive quantities of food. Next year we’ll know better but this year we had a crock pot completely full with only half of our soup ingredients.
We have a giant soup pot big enough to hold and bathe a small child. In fact, that’s why I originally bought it, but when used for that purpose it looks like you are cooking rather than bathing the small child and it creeped us out. But we kept it and now that original purchase, the 30 years of losing half our under-counter storage to the damned thing, and dragging it around with us over half the country, all that was finally going to pay off. That massive stock pot was going to save Thanksgiving. I figured we could wash it out to remove any residual diaper creme and baby poop and use it to cook the soup. But in keeping with our “minimal-work” policy this year, my wife insisted on using a crock pot since it doesn’t need to be watched all day. I returned the giant stock pot to its place under the counter and told the family of elves they could move back in.
“No problem. I’ll just borrow Mom’s crock pot,” Michele said, peering at me over a mountain of kale.
By this point, I was in tears. “I thought her crock pot was broken,” I sobbed from behind an equally enormous pile of chopped onions.
“Mom says she never got the timer to work but you can just set the temperature and use it without the timer.”
Problem solved. I finished cutting the onions and went back to work doing computer-y things for a Healthcare client, making the insurance network safe and secure. Too bad I wasn’t hired to work on healthcare.gov. Downstairs in the kitchen, Michele mixed everything up and distributed into the two crock pots. I didn’t get involved again until it was time to decant the soup into storage containers. It was then that I took a look at the controls and the timer.
“So, your mom bought this thing new? How come she didn’t take it back?”
“More trouble than it was worth. She says she doesn’t need the timer anyway. It works OK. She’s used it.”
“But if the timer had worked, she would have used the timer?”
“Well, yeah. Sure.”
“And she probably said the timer always says 5:00 no matter what she does, right?”
“Something like that.”
“Great! Here’s what we’re gonna do. You tell her I fixed the timer. I’ll pull that plastic label that says 5:00 off the front of the display.”
“Yeah, I left it on there for you to see. Check it out.”
Sure enough. Michele grabbed the little plastic tab protruding from the right side and peeled the decal off. It was all I could do to keep a straight face as she held it up to the light and pondered it. This is her mom we’re talking about, I reminded myself. Can’t have too much fun at her expense. Still, I thought, it doesn’t get any better than this.
And then, it did.
“Sounds like a plan,” she said. “Then next week you can fix that indoor/outdoor weather station she bought last year. It always says the same thing, too.”