Thanksgiving a day later is a little better

Thursday morning I woke up with the expectation of the usual mountain of Thanksgiving food. I laid in bed imagining turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce right out of the can. The plan was to go down to my parents' house for the meal. I looked at the clock — 10 a.m. — and wondered why they hadn't called me to get my butt down there to help peel potatoes. I understand that for a big meal such as Thanksgiving, everyone should pitch in a little, and since I tend to overcook meat for fear of salmonella and undercook vegetables out of impatience, I am usually entrusted with peeling potatoes.

I laid in bed feeling very thankful for my parents, who obviously understood that I was very tired and needed sleep. Eventually, after I took a couple more morning naps under my big, fuzzy blanket, guilt made sleeping difficult, and I called my parents.

I chatted with my dad about whether anyone had heard an update from my sister, who was planning on flying into Portland that night from a monthlong trip to Peru.

We talked about the menu and whether I needed to go to the grocery store.

After an unusually long amount of time passed before I was asked about potato peeling, I inquired myself.

"Oh, didn't we tell you that we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving on Friday instead?" my dad said.

No, no one told me. I wouldn't have wasted my morning fantasizing about gravy if someone had. It turns out my parents weren't being hardworking Thanksgiving chefs, allowing me to sleep in. In fact, my dad told me that I would be expected to make something called "cranberry pilaf" for the following night's dinner.

There was a very, very long pause in the conversation. Actually, my dad still might have been talking, but I was sitting on my bed in stunned silence. Finally, Dad said, "It seems like you're taking a very long time to agree to this."

"Uh, no ... I was just, uh ... thinking about something else." I was thinking about pilaf and trying to imagine what it was.

"It sounds complicated," I said.

"Don't be silly," Dad responded. "It's really easy, and I have a recipe. See you soon."

Right. A recipe. I have an old cookbook of my grandmother's that includes instructions on how to cook an opossum. Just because I have the recipe doesn't mean I have any will or ability to make it. I'm just glad the opossum recipe doesn't have any notes scrawled next to it, meaning my grandma probably never made it, either.

Despite my overwhelming fear of pilaf, which increased exponentially over the course of the day, having Thursday as a nonholiday turned out to be really nice.

At least one grocery store in town still was open, and it wasn't very crowded. I spent the day lying around my parents' house re-reading "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," and eventually roused myself enough to make everyone some soup for dinner. No one ended up violently ill, so I consider my soup a big success.

I'm writing this column on Friday morning, so it's too early to let you know how the pilaf turned out. I think it's some kind of a rice dish, so I'm predicting it to be a little mushy on top and a little burnt on the bottom. If only Minute Rice had a cranberry pilaf version.

On the plus side, I just found out that there will be three different kinds of gravy available at Friday's dinner. I can already hear my stomach muttering to itself in excitement.

In general, celebrating a holiday a day late seems to make everything a little less stressful. My family has started discussing celebrating all holidays this way.

My son just might stand out a little bit when he goes trick-or-treating on Nov. 1.

Zoe Abel is looking forward to gravy. You can contact her at

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