Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Handle Thanksgiving

A week ago, the economy claimed another magazine market and so came an end to my columnist's days. But I'm ever so grateful for all those years of writing about the funny stuff in life. I learned a ton about humor writing, and writing in general. I met folks whom I would never have met, and I shared lots of family stories that still haunt/embarrass my kids.

Ah, good times, good times. So, I thought I'd share one of my earliest columns here at the Hall of a Fame. Sort of a fond farewell to the art form of writing the funny in 350 words or less. And it just happens to be about Thanksgiving. (P.S. Hope yours is swell!)

How to Handle Thanksgiving

To understand what passes as cooking in the Hall household, one must first be familiar with the Cathy C. Hall 15 Minute Rule of Cooking. Namely, that a quarter hour (fifteen minutes) is all the time that I (Cathy C. Hall) will spend on food preparation (cooking). So you’re probably asking yourself, “Say, how does she handle something really big, something like Thanksgiving?”

Interesting question.

Back in my young newlywed days, no one expected much from me in the kitchen. I could slap together a mean tuna-burger, but somehow that tasty dish didn’t exactly scream, “Happy Thanksgiving!” So, my mom or mother-in-law usually ended up with the holiday detail.

Not that my mother-in-law minded. She was a great cook-from-scratch kind of woman who frequently wondered why her son had not keeled over from starvation living under my roof. For the first few years, she dutifully prepared a Southern Thanksgiving feast fit for a small army. Everyone was happily stuffed. (Except for the bird.)

But one year, someone gave my mother a smoked turkey. It seemed a waste not to fix it. My mom and I discussed the possibility of toting the bird to my mother-in-law’s, but that seemed a little...oh, what’s the word? Oh yeah, rude. So we came up with an alternate plan. I should have Thanksgiving at my house and prepare all the food. My mom thought it was a terrific idea.

We sat at the table that year, my parents, my mother-in-law, my hubby and me. Everything looked delicious. Everything smelled delicious. But something was not quite…right. I believe my mother-in-law said it best: “This turkey is raw.” That put a bit of a damper on the festivities.

After that, it was understood that my cooking services would no longer be required. I had used the Cathy C. Hall Ruination Rule of Cooking Something Really Big. Namely, that I (Cathy C. Hall) will totally screw up (ruin) a turkey (Something Really Big).

So that’s how I handle Thanksgiving. I let someone else do the cooking and everyone is happy. (Well, except for the bird).