This is Thanksgiving season in America. I say season because Americans really like to string their holidays out. Thanksgiving seems to kick off right off the back of Halloween, even though it's not until November 26th. Halloween starts sometime in mid-September. Christmas is going to be interesting.
I had my first experience of a family Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, which was very nice. It's always good when a family gets together for a positive reason. In my experience, my family only ever got together because somebody had managed to die. Still, with my family being mostly Irish, this means that family gatherings have marginally cheaper bar bills than they otherwise would have done.
It wasn't the gathering that put me in a bad mood yesterday, it was the preceding events. You see, everyone had been asked to bring a dish and be there for 5pm. Sounds reasonable. So we decided we would make green bean casserole, which is to all intents and purposes a load of green beans shoved into some cream of mushroom soup. Not the most challenging of dishes to prepare.
As usual, I was left with the task of cooking, which I happily did (I don't mind cooking). I did however miss out one semi-important step in the cooking process - I was supposed to cook the beans first, but instead I threw them into the mix in their frozen state. This brought about howls of derision from wifey, along with the instruction that we had to leave early. Okay, so I can cope with a bit of a cooking mishap and salvage most things, but as I am sadly lacking in psychic powers there was no way I was to know we were supposed to be there early when nobody on the face of the planet had mentioned this to me. The combination of wife's wails of doom and her inopportune deadline rescheduling irritated me greatly to the point where I suggested that she go ahead, alone, while I tried to rescue the food. She took me up on my offer following a brief exchange that included lines such as "Why don't you go back to England?" (I paraphrase but you get the gist of how loving the exchange was). So there I found myself, wifeyless and trying to sort out the dinner and in a bad mood.
I discovered that all I had to do was to cook the food a bit longer and it would be fine. So, no big deal and I could still be there for 5pm as originally planned. This was okay, until I realized that I would be taking the casserole dish straight from the oven and had no way to carry it. A few texts to wifey later and I had a solution that involved balancing said casserole dish on my car seat on some pot holders.
You can see where this is going.
At 4.50 I set off with the steaming hot casserole dish sat next to me in the car, full of perfect green bean casserole that I felt rightly proud of. It was a dish suitable for a grand entrance to my first Thanksgiving dinner.
Now to get to the main road, I need to drive along a bumpy, uneven gravel track. You'd think if the casserole was going to make a bid for freedom, it would have done it there and then, but it hung bravely on until I reached the main road and made a left turn. Not a fast left turn, just a regular one, but that was enough to overbalance the casserole and send it on a magical journey over my car seat and onto the floor, like a tidal wave of fresh donkey vomit. The casserole had survived all of a minute in my car.
You know those moments in life where everything just stops and you sit there and think 'This is not happening to me'? Well, this was definitely one of those moments. I pulled over and just stared at the steamy, drooling puddle that was dripping onto the floor while the casserole dish leant drunkenly to one side, lined with the remnants of the casserole.
I couldn't think of anything to say to make myself feel better, so I just said what I was thinking, which was: "For fuck's sake." Then I turned the car around and drove back.
I spent the next forty minutes cleaning out my car and washing away bits of bean and onion, held together with lumps of cream of mushroom soup from my car and then pot holders. I was in a foul mood and texted wifey to say I'd had an accident and wouldn't be making it. This resulted in a barrage of calls and texts from my family demanding I turn up, which I eventually did, carrying the remains of the casserole in a tupperware dish. I'm sure half of them thought I was making up excuses to not go. Well, for those half, try crawling around on your hands and knees scraping up warm casserole off your car and then tell me you're in the mood to go party. And no, I didn't scrape the remains back up off the floor, tempting as though that was.
When I arrived, my uncle (he is technically my uncle, even though we are the same age) opened the door and said the magical words "Do you want a beer?" It's amazing what cold, cheap beer can do to you. That and the company of a good family.
I have another family dinner on Thursday. This time I hope there is no carnage or car decoration because I don't think I could handle that again. I can however cope with more beer.