There are some real dangers during the holidays (and only SOME of them occur in the kitchen!) Johnny Carson said “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.” I can’t change your family dynamics, but this holiday I’m listing the seven most dangerous activities you’re likely to encounter during a weekend packed with said family and food. (If you want the food-related tips, go straight past my unsightly family reminiscing to items 3-5.) And if you’re willing to pay attention you could keep the house from burning down and you might just be joyful about getting together next year with your clan!
Here’s Holly’s Top 7 Dangers During Thanksgiving:
- Unrealistic travel expectations
There’s no better way to starting out a really frantic Thanksgiving weekend than trying to fly or drive somewhere in the days immediately before and after the holiday. Well, unless you count having the unrealistic expectation that you’ll actually arrive on time, with your bags! I’m not sure how to help you with this one. Travel over Thanksgiving is a real drag. But put your expectations aside so the first conversation upon arrival isn’t how disappointed you are. Let’s try and keep the weekend positive, ok?
- Making up for lost time
Yes, we all deserve a break. Yes, we all work hard and need time off. But too often we return from holiday breaks more tired and wrung out than if we’d never taken the break to begin with. That’s because our brains have a canny way of justifying excess. Here’s the way MY brain talks at times like these: I haven’t seen my family in so long, let’s celebrate with excess drinking. I haven’t had a night off in a while, let’s stay up extra late tonight. This holiday is only once a year, seconds won’t hurt me. The result? Regret, exhaustion, hangover, weight gain and the increased likelihood that I’ve got to apologize to someone I love (Sorry Uncle Scott, I didn’t mean what I said about your back hair). Over indulgence begets anxiety for the holidays, and rightly so. Beware in advance and take ‘er easy!
- Deep-frying your turkey.
Yep, the #1 day of the year for house fires is Thanksgiving! That’s because many first-timers fill the fryer with too much oil or attempt to fry a turkey that isn't entirely thawed. Both mistakes can cause serious fires. Don’t be one of the 1,000 fires U.S. fire departments respond to this year! (It actually isn’t as good a way to eat turkey as you’ve been lead to believe, believe me.)
- Getting cut in the kitchen.
Here’s another stat that won’t surprise you: lacerations are the #1 kitchen injury. Duh, right? But what IS a surprise to most people is the CAUSE: the most dangerous tool in a kitchen is a dull knife. Sharpen your knives NOW to prepare for the big day and just before cutting. Here's Gordon Ramsey to show you how!
- Trying to do too much on your own
Are you the host this year? Lucky you! That means your work starts days ahead of your loved ones’ arrival and lasts days after they’ve departed as you reconstruct the dining room and sleeping quarters (one year I did 8 loads of laundry the day after my family left!) But here’s the secret: when someone asks, ‘What can I do to help?’ – TELL THEM! You will not get extra Brownie points by doing it all on your own and it’s too heavy a burden to carry your resentment toward your family right into the Christmas season (unless you like that sort of family drama). Holly’s bonus tip so you can be a guest at your own party: make a LIST of things others can do and dole that list out upon their arrival. You simply say things like:
- ‘Aunt Dorothy, I’d love to sit down at the table during our meal, so I can please put you in charge of setting the dining room table and the kids’ tables?’
- ‘John, I really want to enjoy the toast we share at the start of our meal together, can I please show you where the platter and carving knife are so tomorrow you can be in charge of plating and serving the bird?’
- ‘Honeypie (that’s what you call your spouse), it’s really fun to have all 15 of your family members stay for the weekend. If I ask them each to strip their beds and put their sheets and towels in the laundry room will you do the wash so I can focus on [fill in the blank]?’
Get it? Make the list and hand out the tasks upon their arrival (just let them bring their luggage inside first so they don’t flee!)
- Rushing into activity on Friday
What a crazy thing me thinks it is to ‘relax’ on Thursday (by eating ourselves into a stupor by consuming 4x the number of recommended daily calories) and rush out on Friday like it’s just another work day. I think consumerism has cleverly wedged its way into our ‘down time’ as a form of family recreation. And I think we ought to reject the busy-ness of the Friday following Thanksgiving and just ‘check out’. Truly. Make a plan to make Thanksgiving last all weekend long. At home. Here’s a couple of novel ideas to substitute for the requisite day-after pizza and Black Friday rush: make turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce, go for a long walk, nap during football, and play cards or a board game with the kids. You’ll truly feel more rested over Thanksgiving if you keep the next-day rush at bay!
- Waiting even one more day to make Christmas plans
That’s right, when Thanksgiving ends there are only a few weeks until Christmas. And that means you’re screaming toward the end of the year like a freight train. The list of things that needs to be done between now and 12/25 is so big it’s any wonder we try and do it all in the name of fun and tradition. We are truly experts at exhausting ourselves with the plans we make and the schedules we keep. My suggestion? On Monday morning after Thanksgiving, pick up the phone. Call 530-582-4882 or text 520-414-3439 and Make a Bespoke Reservation with HeyChef! for a private chef or kitchen staff so the holidays are more merry and less worry.