A Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

A Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving

by Susan Neuhalfen

About eight years ago, while still in graduate school, Lantana resident and business lawyer Rachel LeMay had a change in plans at Thanksgiving. She was not going to her parents’ house as usual but rather she and her husband were hosting 20 people for Thanksgiving, including classmates as well as her in-laws. Rachel knew that in order to survive, she needed a plan. So she approached Thanksgiving the same way she had approached law school.

“Picture perfect holiday meals, like grades, aren’t happenstance,” wrote Rachel in a hilarious piece she wrote about her first LeMay Family Thanksgiving. “They are born of diligence, research and study.”

She read cookbooks, called relatives for family recipes, and developed a strategy for success. She called it the Thanksgiving Survival Guide.

“I wrote up a Thanksgiving Survival Guide, complete with schedule, recipes and a plan for the meal,” said Rachel. “It kind of drove everyone crazy, but it really came in handy.”

If you look at the menu, you can see what she was preparing as well as what other people were bringing. That eliminated all the phone calls double-checking her organization skills, or so she had hoped.

“People would call to see if I needed something and I’d just reference the page number of the survival guide to them,” said Rachel. “I’m not sure they appreciated it.”

Everyone has a mantra and Rachel’s mantra is that you can never over-plan. However, there are always unexpected events as is her case of the exploding dressing.

(As an aside, those who know Rachel know you won’t spend more than 30 seconds with her before her wit enters the conversation and uncontrollable laughter ensues)

The story goes like this: Rachel’s mother-in-law from Florida was coming in for Thanksgiving so Rachel made sure she brought out a crystal pan that her mother-in-law had given to Rachel and her husband.
The dressing was put into the oven and came out beautifully one hour later. She placed it on the stovetop as she continued her dinner preparations, sticking diligently to the schedule posted on the refrigerator (also known as “Mission Control”).

Then it happened.

Rachel smelled something burning and realized she had mistakenly turned on a burner under the dressing. The crystal pan and the dressing flew like shrapnel from a bomb. The carrots and gravy were also casualties of the unfortunate event.

“I inadvertently created the Thanksgiving version of a Claymore Antipersonnel Mine,” she wrote. “I stood alone in my neighbor’s kitchen surrounded by the death throes of my Thanksgiving meal.”

Her understanding guests made the best of what survived and even Rachel, despite losing control of her perfectly planned holiday event, had a great time at her first LeMay Family Thanksgiving.

Here’s the best part of the story: on her schedule posted on “Mission Control”, a classmate wrote the phrase “Explode the dressing” in the 5:45 p.m. time slot.

Every year Rachel continues to update her Thanksgiving Survival Guide and distribute it to her guests. To see a copy, go to www.lemayfirm.com.

“My favorite thing on there is Grandma’s pumpkin pudding pie recipe,” said Rachel. “It’s to die for.”

Pumpkin Pudding Pie:
The Stuff Dreams are Made of

• ½ Cup milk
• 2 Large packages of vanilla instant pudding
• 1 Tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 2 Cups canned pumpkin
• 4 ½ cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
• 2 (9-inch) frozen deep-dish pie crusts
• Cool whip or whipped cream to garnish

1. Bake the pie crusts according to the
directions on the package. Let cool.
2. Mix the first four ingredients and then
fold in whipped topping.
3. Pour mixture into the pie crusts.
4. Let sit in refrigerator for at least
two hours.
5. Top with cool whip or whipped cream
and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

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