A while back, I emailed a grocery list to my mom so that we'd have all our usual favorites on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Shawn and I spent last week rhapsodizing about mashed potatoes and dressing and (vegetarian) gravy. Wednesday night, I baked two pies to take with us to Maryland - one double-crusted salty caramel apple; the other crumb-topped sour cream apple - so that I could concentrate on making my signature dish (macaroni and cheese casserole) once I arrived on Thursday. The Tofurky was in my parents' fridge, defrosted and ready to roast. Our dirty laundry was sorted and sitting at the door. All week we had been preparing our dog to see "grandma and grandpa" (said in a silly voice that gets her ridiculously excited every single time).
My alarm went off at 4 AM Thanksgiving day. We loaded up the car we occasionally borrow from our neighbors, buckled Chloe in, and turned the key in the ignition to set off on our journey...and the engine sputtered, then died. We had a dead battery on our hands and no recourse - there wasn't a car rental place or an auto repair garage in the borough that was open. A jump would have maybe gotten us to New Jersey, where we would have inevitably been stranded once we stopped to fill up the tank. While Shawn unloaded the car, I was on the phone with my mom (yes, I called her at 5 AM) bemoaning our situation when I heard the most horrific sound outside - metal on metal for what seemed like minutes. Just as I started to wonder what on earth was going on and why Shawn hadn't come back inside, he did - white as a ghost and shaking, having witnessed a car crash on the corner only to watch in horror from the passenger-side door, pie in hand, as one of the SUVs barreled up the street toward him, sideswiping parked cars all the way and sending sparks shooting out from its undercarriage. He barely escaped being hit (yet somehow didn't drop the pie). And just like that, my pity party was over thanks to a terrifying dose of perspective. (The driver was apprehended and arrested, but the occupants of the car it crashed into abandoned it, prompting what can only be described as a manhunt, helicopters and all. Their truck remained on our corner, totaled, for several hours.)
Once the morning's bizarre events were behind us and reality sunk in, I decided to put our traditional meal on the table anyway. I had the pie; I just needed everything else. Off to Whole Foods we went with a grocery list a mile long. Somehow I managed to pull everything together (and go for a nice long run) before sitting down to all of our favorites by 1 PM. My poor mother was left to make macaroni and cheese on her own, and had to buy store-made pie at the 11th hour. The Tofurky she had picked up didn't go to waste though, because we ate it when we finally arrived on Friday.