When we moved from New York to Florida, I took on all the holidays. Step parents, in-laws, family friends, and Northern cousins joined together in the festivities. The gauntlet had been passed, and I was a hostess who was up for the task. I didn't just enjoy the holidays, I reveled in them, and I strived to make each gathering better than the last. I bought candles, calligraphied name cards, made casseroles, formed cookies into festive shapes, and dipped things in chocolate. I set the mood--totally.
But being the "Hostess with the Mostess" did come at a price. I became consumed with the details: Will my brisket be tender enough? Do I have enough activities for the kids? Are the place settings positioned with the precise amount of disarray to look Shabby Chic? Before party time, I was always about one degree away from boiling over.
This year at Thanksgiving, I was no different. In the middle of preparations, my son interrupted me to ask for help with a school project. Luckily, my poached pear appetizer had just gone into the pot, so he narrowly averted a verbal eruption. His assignment was to interview one person in his family about their favorite childhood memory of Thanksgiving. I thought back, and with little hesitation, told him about the Thanksgivings I had spent in New Jersey with my older cousins. We had ping-pong tournaments, played football on the front lawn and snuggled on the couch to watch the parade. But the best part was going to Burger King. Yep, that's right. My cousins took me to BK every year, because I refused to eat anything on the table. When the adults were full and began unbuttoning their pants, rubbing their bellies, and talking politics, we headed for the nearest Whopper. My cousins, all boys, were girl crazy, and too caught up in their high school dramas to pay much attention to me during most of my visit. This was my alone time with them; and I loved every minute of it.