The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Giving thanks for a return to school

Like so many other students, I awoke Monday morning reeling from the paradox of Thanksgiving Break: after five days at home, I need a vacation from my vacation.

I assure you, I approached the holiday with the best intentions. I looked forward to finishing some schoolwork, reuniting with friends and spending time with my family. And, since my mother was in Mexico during the actual holiday, I was prepared to execute the perfect Thanksgiving for my family in her absence, complete with both the traditional meal Thursday and a make-up one for my mother Sunday. Yes, I had my whole break scheduled by the hour, and it was going to be great.

Though I am sure that the men of the house would have done a fine job as well, I was more than happy to assume the responsibility of cooking for the week. I gathered the necessary ingredients Wednesday and commenced cooking at noon Thursday, figuring if my mom could pull off the holiday every year, then so could I.

What I failed to remember, however, is that mealtime with my family means narrowly avoiding a crisis at every turn. Between the three vegetarians, my mother's dairy-free, low-fat diet, and my younger brother's insistence that nothing outside of the starch family touch his plate, meals rarely satisfy more than one family member at a time. I, of course, was determined to break this pattern and please them all, no matter what.

Thursday night our family gathered for a late lunch. After my father carved the turkey, I proudly crowded the dining room table with a veritable cornucopia of delights: soup, candied sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn bread muffins and quiche. After surveying the goods, each brother piled his plate with food as I waited excitedly for the rave reviews. Though I labored like many a mom all afternoon so that my brothers could give joyous thanks, I waited in vain. My older brother sampled the quiche. My two younger brothers grabbed a muffin and nothing more. End of story. The meal lasted a total of 43 minutes.

Come Sunday, I was ready for round two. "I'll show those picky boys," I thought. I planned to make so much food that they'd have no choice but to like something. Since my mother returned home Saturday night, we divided the task of making dinner. While she prepared turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and apple pie, I tackled sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. Since the corn bread went over so well last time, I made some more muffins, just for good measure. To top it all off, there was no dairy in anything, just to make mom happy.

I approached the table with my goods as the sweet scents of pie mixed with victory tickled my nostrils. As my mother and I loaded the table with enough food to feed a small third world country, my youngest brother's eyes widened in awe.

"Ah ha!" I thought, feeling triumphant, as my other younger brother spoke.

"This is the most attractive meal I've ever seen," he said.

"I've wowed him with my cookery," I surmised. "Now we shall all feast at once!"

And, feast I did. I loaded my plate with yams and squash, muffins and beans. I delighted in the smoothness of the mashed potatoes and marveled at the wonder of soymilk substitution.

Then, in the midst of my revelry, I glanced across the table. There sat Older Brother, eating a corn bread muffin. Younger Brother Number One piled more mashed potatoes on his otherwise empty plate. Younger Brother Number Two followed suit.

"Try some sweet potatoes," I pleaded, as my brothers looked away.

"Some squash?" I begged, as they reached for more muffins.

I realized then why my mother took off to Mexico this year. After Thursday's festivities and the repeat performance Sunday night, I am spent. Left with burned knuckles on four out of 10 digits, a tried patience and the lingering taste of stuffing on my palate, I've had enough. Though I loved cooking for the family and rejoicing with my kinfolk, I'm in no hurry to do it again. Next year, unless there is some serious kissing-up involved, my family can fend for themselves.

So how was my break, you ask? How was that special time set aside for the counting of blessings and other such merriment? Wonderful, I say. It was absolutely wonderful. Just like the corn bread muffins.