Even Perfect Plans Can Wind up on the Chopping Block


For the first Thanksgiving my husband and I hosted after we got married, we had big plans. We invited both sides of our family to our new place for the holiday meal. We went to a cooking class beforehand. We picked out wines, broke out the china, and sharpened our new German knives. We made a timetable for when everything needed to go into and out of the oven.

On the actual day of Thanksgiving, the time table became spattered with sweet potato and was swiftly forgotten. The turkey, which my husband had so carefully brined, took longer in the deep fryer than expected. While waiting for the turkey, my nieces and nephews tore around our condo, which at the time was outfitted with all sorts of early marriage/pre-children Crate & Barrel breakables. And then, as the pièce de résistance, I nearly chopped off my finger with one of our sharpened knives and bled all over the sage stuffing.

We ate, eventually. But not until after both my father, a retired surgeon, and my brother-in-law, a chef, had inspected my wound. Dad said, “It might need stitches if it doesn’t stop bleeding.” Brother-in-law said, “I’ve seen worse. At least you still have most of the nail.” Gauze and butterfly bandages were produced and, by some miracle involving my mother and mother-in-law, dinner was put on the table. No stuffing, but also no stitches.

It’s a good lesson, really, about expectations versus reality. My fellow debs and I all had dreams of being published novelists. Not one of us can say that it happened in exactly the way we pictured, and only time will tell if the reality of our first-book experience will meet, fall short of, or exceed our expectations. But we’re all here. And as long as nobody loses any fingers, I think we’ll be okay.

Image credit: startwoodworking.com

Author: Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

5 Replies to “Even Perfect Plans Can Wind up on the Chopping Block”

  1. As I think back over the “big events” of my life (weddings, funerals, bar mitzvahs, major holidays), the ones I remember best are the ones which went off the rails in one way or another.

    There was a movie in the 1960s called Gambit which showed a big jewel robbery. The first half hour or so was the robbery going perfectly. Interesting, but not that entertaining. Then it turned out this was the thief describing how it was planned to go. The rest of the movie was the actual heist, where everything possible went wrong (all the more enjoyable because we know how it was supposed to work).

    Imagine how boring it would be if anything in life (jobs, marriage, publication, having children, etc.) went exactly as you imagined.

    It applies to writing, too, as I just talked about on my blog. One of my characters just behaved completely differently in a particular situation than I had expected, and a lot of the rest of the story will have to be scrapped. Oh, well. 🙂

  2. I love it that you actually do have a Thanksgiving disaster story! I try not to have expectations, but that’s hard, of course. I’ve found the expectations so often lead to disappointment because I can imagine perfection so well. 🙂

  3. Expectations…I wrestle with these all the time. In fact, keeping them manageable may be one of my biggest challenges in life–not just for myself but the expectations I have of other people.

    Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s to no disasters this year!

  4. I completely agree with Anthony; if everything in life went exactly as planned, we’d be so bored from the predictability.

    I love the image of the surgeon and chef examining your finger! Glad no stitches were necessary 😉 Hope your Thanksgiving tonight involved less bloody fingers but an equally memorable day.

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