Turkey Day Stress? I Have Life Hacks for Next Year

First, I want to express my gratitude in that I have a wonderful family. We sail through holidays with hardly a blip.

I’m not going to say there has never once been drama in decades, but it’s never been high drama and it was few and far between. I know how lucky I am.

That being said.

I know that for many people, large holiday gatherings can be stressful.

If you want to see the perfect example, watch the fishes episode of The Bear. Holy shit. That was some family drama. Jamie Lee Curtis is amazing

Anyway, I know holidays can be stressful, so I have suggestions on how to make it less stressful.


Get the norovirus the Sunday before Thanksgiving and tell 17 people that they’re on their own for the holiday.

That really does cut down on the “is my house clean enough?” and the “I hope this new dressing recipe turns out” stress. Because you won’t care about how clean your house is and, for all that is holy, don’t even fucking talk about food.

I will spare you the details of my personal experience with norovirus. I will just say the Sunday before Thanksgiving was the sickest I have ever been in my life. If not the sickest, at least top 3. And easily the most disgusting.

By Sunday evening, we cancelled all the out of town guests, which took the number of people in my house from 20 to 9.

By Monday afternoon, we finally admitted that no one should set foot anywhere near our house, much less eat food that I prepared. My parents are elderly. I didn’t want to kill them with turkey.

Super funny side note. That wouldn’t have happened anyway! More on that in a moment. 

You all, I was so bummed. I looked forward to seeing all the kids and grandkids. Our youngest, Mae, has turned out to be a Young Frankenstein fan and all I wanted to do on Thanksgiving evening was to curl up with her and watch it.

Shit happens. haha. Plans change. I can be flexible. The situation was disappointing, but not the end of the world.

I didn’t feel great, but I was able retain a can or two of ginger ale, so you know, I was ready to prepare food meant for 20 people for 3 people. I had all the stuff. Why let it go to waste? Besides, I was on no one’s time table. I’d be done when I was done. I would get Randy and Joey to do some of the heavy lifting.

Maybe, I wouldn’t get to see 75% of our kids, but I could still make dinner. I make a good Thanksgiving dinner. I wanted nothing more than feel better enough to eat at least some solid foods by Thursday.

This brings me to:


Save time and energy by not cooking. You don’t have to worry about dry turkey if you just don’t cook the turkey! And not worrying is always good!

I mean, sure, you don’t get the delicious end result, but think of the time savings!

I admit, my goal was to actually cook dinner. In fact, I spent the whole day before putting things together so that onThursday, I would need to bake a few things and cook the turkey. Easy peasy.

I baked an apple pie, prepped the turkey, and into the oven the turkey went.

It doesn’t seem like a lot of work, but just putting on my bathrobe got me winded and dizzy. I was pretty worn out. I decided on a long bath and afterwards, I’d start basting the bird.

My bath time went on a little longer than expected. I might have even dozed off for a few minutes. Which is weird. I don’t ever take naps. I can’t fall asleep sitting up. I am certainly not one to fall asleep in water.

I got dressed and told Randy that I was still worn out and that I’d probably need his help with everything else. I was just going to baste the turkey and then lay down for a while.

The first thing I noticed was that the foil I had used as a tent wasn’t really hot at all.


And the disposable roasting pan? Also not hot.

My brain was jumping to the only logical conclusion and trust me when I tell you, I was not prepared for that to be the conclusion.

I put my fingers on the wire rack. It was slightly warm. Perhaps a bit above lukewarm.

frozen turkey

My reaction was not reasonable.

I had a lip sticking out, foot stomping baby fit.

My fucking oven fucking died.

What I wanted to do, was take a nap. What I ended up doing, is laying on the floor with a flashlight in one hand and a lighter in the other while Randy watched a how-to video on his phone.

We have a gas stove. Randy and I are not handy people and I was really worried about blowing up our house. Our range is probably 40 years old, so I felt iffy on the old school safety features they had back then.

I had one of those long ended lighters where you have to depress a button before lighting it which was difficult because of my arthritis recently coming in. Getting old is so much fucking fun. Yay. 

I gingerly lit the lighter in the general direction that sort of looked like the thingy on Randy’s phone. I didn’t know for sure because, you know, I just don’t see that well anymore.

After 20 minutes of trying, I was literally jabbing that flame in any crevice I could. There? How about there? Is it there? Do you smell smoke or gas? No? Well, how about there? 

We had to admit that the oven was dead. The stove top still works, but the oven is dead.

Currently, we are currently ovenless folk. Persons without an oven. Which, you know, is fine.

I tried making the dressing and sweet potato casserole in the air fryer. The green bean casserole got pitched. The gravy was too thin, but really, by the time Randy got the turkey on the grill outside, it was going to be way past dinner time. We weren’t eating that on Thanksgiving day anyway.

My plan was to cobble together a sort of “do-over” on Friday.

We ordered Chinese food for our Thanksgiving dinner.

The “do-over” wasn’t great. Turns out that new dressing recipe I tried out?


Randy promises me that sooner or later I will find  my sense of humor about last week.

I mean, I guess he might be right. Seems pretty far down the road right now.

I know the obvious silver lining is, at least, my oven didn’t crap out with 20 people in  my house waiting for food. That would have been worse. So at least that didn’t happen. And I have been wanting a new range since we moved in this house over 5 years ago. Randy has been looking into new ranges all morning.

Also, he just called. Turns out we can’t just buy a new stove and replace the old one. We have some electrical issues. He’s currently looking for an electrician. We’re in our sixties and we’ve never hired an electrician.

It sounds expensive.

Here’s to Christmas!

Try to never get the norovirus. 0/10.

10 Thoughts.

  1. Are you thinking of getting an electric range instead of a gas one? I used to install them back in the nineties, and they have gotten way better since then.
    The house we lived in up in Rohnert Park had one of those induction cooktops, and it was pretty cool, which surprised me a little as I used to be a line cook and am kinda picky in the kitchen when I get the chance.
    Sorry you aren’t feeling well, sounds awful. I got sick from some barbecue I ate one night when we were all working late to sew together a $28,000 carpet at a job I had, and it didn’t make me sick until the next day at the customer’s house in San Francisco when we were installing it. I spent the whole workday on the customer’s bathroom floor in front of their toilet, which was embarrassing, to say the least. I finally got up and helped carry some of the tools downstairs to the truck when everything was done.
    We had a nice microwave lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner again this year.
    We usually go to Brenda’s house for Thanksgiving, but that is more than halfway across our large state, and we were supposed to be moved to Miranda, less than three hours drive from there, but we’re not there yet, and it’s gonna snow this fucking week. After the snowmageddon last year, we promised ourselves we would be gone before that happened ever again, but apparently we lied. Now I don’t know if I can trust any goddamn thing we say any more.

    • It is frustrating to make plans and not be able to follow through. I’m sorry it’s been difficult with the move.

      We are getting another gas stove. It was the cheaper option due to the electrical work we would have had to do for an electric one.

  2. I’m so sorry you’ve been ill. I know it’s no comfort, but everybody I know who had plans for Thanksgiving had to make alterations due to someone (usually the cook) coming down with some illness. Hadn’t thought about the norovirus though. As sorry as it is to say, at least you had some warning. Mostly I heard that my friends and family only had one day’s warning before frantically calling everyone to not come. And then there was the after Thanksgiving illnesses from those who were exposed to ‘whatever’ and spent the weekend whimpering.
    I used a gas stove most of my childhood and adult life. Then we moved into a rental and discovered electricity. I can not stress how much I HATE electric. The oven part is OK because 375 is 375, but the burners? HATE. First thing you have to learn is that when something is done – immediately take it off the burner. No electricity doesn’t mean no heat. At least with gas, when you turn it off that’s the end of it. Not so with electric. Good luck with your purchase – if you had to replace a major appliance, this is the time of year to do it! Hope you’re feeling better! Happy pre-holiday(s)

  3. Oh, man – you have been THROUGH it this year! I have to concur on the electric stove. We just moved and my new place came with one of those induction tops. It’s OK, except it doesn’t recognize or heat all pots. I had to get rid of my favorite pots and get a whole new set that the stove-top would recognize (it has something to do with being magnetic?). We moved to be near my MIL, SIL and BIL and my birthday was about a month later – on Halloween. My sister-in-law is always thoughtful about birthdays and planned a little party with a red velvet cake and everything. We all met in my MIL’s house and had a lovely get together. I even got presents: a super-neat steampunk octopus jewelery box (with beautiful jewelery inside), and Covid. Actually, we probably got the Covid at the Halloween dance that we went to a couple of days earlier and I gave THEM the gift of Covid. Everyone at the party tested positive within 4 days. It took 16 days to test negative, less than a week before my SIL was to host over 20 people for Thanksgiving, including her son and DIL visiting from New York. But I was going to make my famous root-veggie soup to bring to the feast. I put oil in my favorite pot, set it on my cook-top and the thing would not heat. I read the manual, tried every burner and even asked my husband, who makes himself eggs on that thing every day to see what I was doing wrong. It was the pot. Get a gas stove, is all I’m saying.

  4. I don’t post often but want you to know you and your regular commenters are a joy. I love the stories on this site so much. I feel bad when you’re sick or anxious or fall in a hole or an appliance dies. I always send wishes for good outcomes and then I giggle. Thank you for sharing your highs and lows. Thank you for making time for your readers. Thank you for being a source of fun. You are a gem, Michelle. …. and no, do not get an electric stove!

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