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Fischer: Hosting Thanksgiving dinner should be a spectator sport

By Jen Fischer - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 19, 2021

Photo supplied

Jen Fischer

Ready or not … here they come. We are referring here to “The Holidays.” For many, myself included, the very mention of the word dredges up deep feelings of dread and fear. So many expectations and so little desire to fulfill said expectations. It’s not that I don’t feel thankful; I’m incredibly grateful every single day for all that is before me. It is also not that I don’t enjoy the festivities. I look forward to all things that sparkle, jingle and are merry and bright. What I do not relish, in a very grinch-like way, is the formalities of such obligatory socialities (not a real word, but I’m sticking with it) during this gladful and spirited time of year.

Frankly, I’m always up for a good party. I love meeting new people and being around people I already know as well. In fact, my home is always available for the use of such events, as long as I am invited … and as long as there are no set expectations for set procedures and social protocols surrounding such event. When we purchased the home two years ago, we wanted to be sure there was a spacious and open area around the kitchen, dining and family room (or great room, depending on your chosen lingo) in which large groups of people could gather. The more, the merrier.

Here lies the real problem: I volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year. By host, I meant that I would be happy to have it at my house. I assumed everyone involved knew that this meant they are welcome to use our kitchen, the very one that exists only for aesthetic purposes in our home, to prepare the meal. Of course, I would still bring the pre-chopped, bagged “salad” that I am assigned to bring every year, but that would be the extent of the expectations for me. Thus, imagine my surprise when my friend gasped in horror and disbelief when I informed her I was hosting this year.

“Jen, are you serious? Have you been getting ready?” she asked.

“Do you mean, have I vacuumed yet? I figured I would just do that the day before,” I responded. To which she had no response and simply sighed … loudly.

I immediately called upon Google to see what I was missing. Google was happy to tell me exactly how to “Plan Thanksgiving: A Homeowner’s Guide.” For the record, Google is either up in the night or I am, but either way, we are not only on entirely different pages here, but I don’t think we are even reading out of the same book. In a nutshell, here is the guide:

Two weeks before: Gather décor. Umm, for what? I guess I could carve a little pilgrim family out of a block of wood, but honestly, lumber is difficult to come by right now. Perhaps I’ll spread some acorns from my back yard onto the table.

Next: Plan the menu. I did, at least my part — bagged salad.

One week before: Take inventory. Be sure you have napkins, plates, serving utensils, tablecloths and name cards. I figure, if you don’t know your name by now, carrying a card around for a couple of hours during a meal once a year is not going to be doing anyone any favors. Google also suggested doing the grocery shopping and planning activities during this time. Activities? I thought eating was the activity. I guess I can assign clean up chores, that is an activity as well. Perhaps I will take that under advisement.

Three days before: Clean the house, stock guest rooms (why? This party ends at 7 p.m. sharp), create a playlist (I could get on board with this one, this would eliminate talking) and gather the party favors. Party favors? Having the party is the only favor I’ll be passing out.

Finally, two days before: Set up the bar (this is not that kind of party at my house), set the table (where am I going to put my puzzle I’ve been working on, meantime?) and prepare the make-ahead recipes. I plan to purchase my bagged salad no sooner than one day before so it will be fresh.

Welcome to homeownership during the holidays. May you be the hostess with the mostess, since I’m not in the running.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or jen@jen-fischer.com.

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