Thanksgiving is days away. Everyone I know is putting the finishing touches on their menus for the big holiday feast. Recipes for the perfect turkey, gravy, and pumpkin pie can be found on numerous TV talk shows, magazines, and blogs.
Nowhere have I seen a recipe for preparing the most crucial element of a great holiday meal: Your kids.
After celebrating 16 years of holidays being a mother, 10 as the mom of three, I would like to share my secret three-step recipe for a lovely Thanksgiving. Or at least one where the kids, my husband, and I survive.
Like most recipes this one has evolved over the years as my family has grown. But the basics remain. Feel free to make this recipe your own. Families are like ovens, they each are a little different!
Kinder Souffle (or Getting Le Children Ready)
Prep time 1 to 2 hours
Children (preferably your own)
A place to go to for Thanksgiving (This year we are going to my parents.)
* I first used dress clothes in this recipe, and though I love seeing my kids all dressed up, I no longer think this is mandatory.
Major amount of patience
Prescription drugs (optional)
Just like your average souffle, Kinder Souffle needs to prepared very carefully. If this part of your Thanksgiving goes wrong, the whole day can be off course.
Actual time to get ready:
Varies by child, mood, and what’s on TV.
This recipe calls for ever gently starting to mention that it is time to get ready to go to Grandma’s for dinner. It’s important to start slowly and gently. If you can sing and dance, it helps to get the little dears’ attention. This is not mandatory, but it does help.
Help your younger kids get dressed. Get ready to argue with your tween or teen that shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt may not be the best choice for the cold weather of the holiday and their grandparents’ sense of decorum.**
**Note: How much effort you decide to put in the actual style of clothing is really a matter of taste and how much you can stand the disapproving looks of your parents and other older relatives. If comments such as, “You would never have been able to step foot outside the house looking like that when you lived under my roof” don’t make you want to tear your hair out, then by all means, just skip ahead to worrying about general grooming and shoes on feet.
Take a deep breath. This may be a good time to avail yourself of the optional ingredient of prescription medication.
Step Two: Main Course
Roast mommy with a side of wilted nerves
Prep time: Varies greatly but expect to be helping your children while everyone is enjoying their meal. Developing a taste for cold stuffing and sweet potatoes is extremely helpful.
This is the main course, the event that everyone has been waiting for all year. Go slowly. Proceed with caution, of course keeping in mind the age and food/texture/color preferences of your individual ingredients.
Remember that big family meals with relatives you don’t often see can be stressful for everybody, especially your kids. Even if they are older and usually self reliant, they may need a little extra help navigating the food and serving dishes.
Once everyone is set up, feel free to make up your own plate of food. Please keep in mind that your enjoyment of this meal is really dependent on how well your basic ingredients (otherwise known as your kids) have set up.
Step Three: Dessert
Otherwise known as the course it took me years to eat with my family***
If your children are babies or toddlers, there is an extremely good chance that by the time you get them fed and cleaned up, everyone else may be done with their dessert and coffee.
***All of you experienced moms out there, if you are not knee deep in babies and young kids yourself, you may want to think about helping a family member with small kids herself and give a baby a bottle or play with a toddler. Remember, infants don’t talk back, and since they are not yours, you don’t have to bring them home with you.
Once you do finally get to sit down and enjoy whatever remains of your meal or dessert, give yourself a minute and breathe. Take it all in.
I have promised myself that this is the year I will finally focus on this step. In the past, I have gotten so stressed out making sure everyone is having the perfect Thanksgiving that I have not taken the time to really enjoy the people I love most in the world.
I will do everything I can to ensure that my recipe for a lovely holiday is followed. Then I will do my best to remember that the beauty in this day, and my life, is not the recipe I plan for, but the one that I ultimately get.
A version of this recipe appeared on Scary Mommy last year (11/14)