Tag Archives: how to cook thanksgiving dinner

How to get your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner

I have mentioned many times in this particular column of mine that I love Thanksgiving. The holiday that asks nothing of you besides gluttony and drunkenness. I don’t even mind that I’m now the one in charge of the cooking, because in the end it all leads to the gluttony and drunkenness. Plus, I found a recipe for deep-fried stuffing balls that has completely changed the entire Thanksgiving game, if not my entire life.

What I don’t love, however, is being the parent of small children at Thanksgiving. Because after spending eight hours cooking, the last thing I want to do is spend another eight hours negotiating with tiny picky dictators about trying the food I just lovingly poured my heart and soul into. Not even eating the food, mind you. Just trying one microscopic bite. A bite so small that technically it shouldn’t exist according to current laws of physics.

But no matter how delicious everything is, no matter how much it has been bathed in practically pornographic amounts of butter and lard, no matter how kid-friendly I attempt to make everything, my children will take one look at their plate and immediately start howling about the disgusting mush of dog poop and gravel I apparently just set in front of them.

True story. This is the conversation I had with my not quite 3-year-old last year:

“I can’t eat this, Mommy. It’s gross.”

“Which part is gross, baby?”

“All of it.”

Ah, music to an exhausted and slightly drunk Thanksgiving cook’s ears.

He doesn’t even like mashed potatoes, which I didn’t even know was humanly possible.  

And this year, his younger sister just learned how to shriek “No!” so it should be a beautiful dinnertime duet of denial this time around.

But I decided that after last year, which ended with a tantrum (and my toddler was crying too) and an exclamation of “oh, just eat a stupid roll,” that I would do things differently this year. I would come prepared this year. I would WIN this year.

Which is why since March I have been brainstorming ideas on how I can get my kids to eat my Thanksgiving food without tears and fighting and threats (or at the very least, only minimal threats). And I am here to share my wisdom. Because, according to my research, it’s not impossible to get even the pickiest of kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner; it just takes a little ingenuity.

So, here are your Aunty Aprill’s tips for tricking getting your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner:

Mold the mashed potatoes into an elaborate statue of a Mickey Mouse.

Tell them sweet potatoes are potatoes made with candy.

This one is rather labor intensive, but if you can, puree some turkey and stuffing and then, using a syringe, stuff some M&M’s with the puree.

Hire a playground bully to stand menacingly in the corner and glare at them until they take three BIG bites of the three bean salad.

Tell them Christmas won’t come unless they eat everything on their plate.

Instead of a turkey, mold some mac and cheese into the shape of a turkey (but the GOOD kind from a box, none of that fancy, homemade, gourmet cheese sauce crap).

Don’t feed them for three days beforehand. Who’s brussel sprouts sauteed with butter and bacon are icky now, starving peasant child?

A less severe version of the above tip: Only feed them peas and water three days beforehand.

Tell them that Elmo made the cranberry sauce.

Pour melted chocolate over their entire plate.

Use sibling rivalry to your advantage. Whoever eats the most turkey gets the most Christmas presents.

Only serve rolls with butter. Or, if they’re really picky, only serve butter.

And, if all else fails, just drink wine until you don’t care what anyone eats.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

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Another annoying post defending Thanksgiving

Guys, I love analogies. I love analogies like how bad writers love a good cheap gimmick. Which is why I want to begin this particular column about my love of Thanksgiving with the following cheap gimmicky analogy:

Congratulations, everyone. We have all turned Thanksgiving into the classic middle child of the major holidays.

See, at one time Thanksgiving was a pretty big deal in America. But now, jammed in-between the ever-growing juggernauts of Halloween and Christmas, it always gets overlooked. And sure, just like so many other middle children, it’s maybe not as fun as Halloween or as exciting as Christmas, but it’s still a good, solid holiday.

Now, Halloween obviously plays the role of the oldest child, not so much for any particular trait per se, but because it comes first in the calendar year and I really need this analogy to work. Although, if I really stretch it, Halloween could be like your high-achieving cheerleader daughter who suddenly goes through a goth phase and dyes her hair purple and only wears black and starts getting C’s because she’s focused on writing her death poetry. And also she starts getting drunk, like really drunk, while wearing sexy Harry Potter uniforms.

And Christmas is clearly the beloved youngest child, who can do no wrong and no one ever tells it no, which is why it has turned into a spoiled brat that sucks up all of Mommy and Daddy’s time and money.

Poor Thanksgiving. The quiet peacemaker. It’s just trying to get the whole family together at the table for nothing other than good food and good, but strained, conversation that is desperately trying to avoid bringing up politics. Would you like more mashed potatoes, it quietly but excitedly asks. Or maybe some of the turkey that took 18 hours to prep and cook? Or any of these other eleven side dishes?

Except, no one hears it. Because there’s Christmas, screaming in its highchair for more attention and throwing poinsettias at everyone, while Halloween mopes and snacks on the giant bowl of leftover candy that is mostly just yellow Starbursts and generic Tootsie Rolls at this point. Thanksgiving just wanted one day that is focused on them but no, because not only is Christmas making a scene but Christmas also had to bring over its rowdy, juvenile delinquent friend, Black Friday. And now everything is chaos and everyone is at the store because Black Friday conned them into thinking that getting into fistfights over cheap flats screens and environmentally irresponsible Keurigs was a great idea.

And so poor Thanksgiving just sits there alone at the table, sullenly eating a turkey leg and drinking wine straight from the bottle (which they will replace because Thanksgiving is a polite, responsible holiday…as long as no one brings up politics).

Well, I, for one, refuse to let Thanksgiving drink that wine alone. One, because I have never turned down a glass of wine in my life. And two, this holiday is worthy of our love and attention.

I love Thanksgiving. LOVE it. I loved it as a kid when the women of my family would shoo me out of the kitchen while they mysteriously made magic happen. And I love it now as an adult when I’m the one in the kitchen mysteriously making moderate-to-severe knife cuts and a whole symphony of curse words happen (and somehow, magically, edible food).

Everyone gets all dressed up but goes absolutely nowhere, just looking hella fancy while hanging out in the kitchen. There’s no stress to look skinny in a sexist costume or pressure to find the perfect gift for a husband who thinks “whatever, you know what I like” is an acceptable answer to the question “what do you want for Christmas this year?”

The only goal for the whole freaking day is just to devour food that has been bathed in almost illegal amounts of butter. To drink wine and watch a parade and talk about the weather with your uncle for an uncomfortable 12 minutes because it’s a topic least likely to bring up politics.

There’s no pressure to have a good time, even, or to make it a magical day for children. It just is what it is. The only thing you’re required to do is give a list of things you’re thankful for and even then you can lie because, I mean, who’s going to know?

So, guys, I think we all should apologize to Thanksgiving for our benign neglect of it. It truly deserves better. A prominent place on the fridge to hang its construction paper turkey hand art.

Christmas will just have to learn some patience. *ducks as another poinsettia is thrown at her head*