I’ve been doing as many people are doing right now: getting ready to have a bunch of family descend upon them and cooking a great big feast. I like Thanksgiving a whole lot better than Christmas. For me Thanksgiving is calmer than the Christmas frenzy. And so much simpler. No gift anxiety to contend with. It’s about being with the people you love and great food.
What I fail to remember every year is just how much work it entails.
This year, it’s been very Egg and I. For those of you who don’t know of Betty MacDonald, she was an author, a very funny memoirist actually, who lived in Seattle in the 40s and wrote a number of books about the many crazy mishaps that seemed to occur in her life on a regular basis.
A few years ago, I bought her house on Vashon Island, about a 20 minute ferry ride from Seattle. Like her, it’s a bit of a kooky house, and in 1946, after selling the movies rights to her book The Egg and I, she had constructed an even kookier road to get there. At this time of year with all the leaves and rain, the road can get pretty treacherous, which is why perhaps, without fail, I always seem to choose this time of year to have large pieces of furniture delivered.
This year I decided to replace a dilapidated single bed. I called “Sleep Country USA” (If you live in the US, you now you have that song stuck in your head) and ordered the bed over the phone. I could do this because I have ordered beds from Sleep Country USA before, so I knew what I wanted. When it came time to talk about the delivery I did my usual, “Make sure they send a small truck” thing.
And wouldn’t you know it, on delivery day, we wake up to a storm. A deluge of rain. With puppy in lap I sit in the car on the ferry and congratulate myself on my brilliance when I think to write out a shopping list and to to get all the food for Thanksgiving and leave it at the house so it will be done. I figure I have just enough time before the delivery dudes arrive.
I do the entire Thanksgiving shopping at 9am on a Tuesday morning. I don’t have enough reusable bags for it all. I unload it in the pouring rain, managing not to slip on the leaves on the path, so that no turkeys are harmed in the process.
And then I wait anxiously for the delivery.
They call and I give them detailed directions because GPS always sends people to the wrong place. They call again. They have used the GPS and are in the wrong place. I hop in the car and drive up to meet them in the right place. When they arrive, I jump out of the car in the pouring rain and run up to the truck to suggest that I drive them down the road first so they can see the road and how tricky it is, to decide whether or not they want to drive the truck down. They don’t want to take this precautionary step. They look about 16 years old and are in a hurry. I can tell they think I am a crazy person in a pink raincoat standing beside their truck in the pouring rain with water dripping off my nose.
But they don’t understand Betty’s Road. It has hairpin turns. It’s barely wide enough for my Prius, let alone their paneled van. On the passenger side of the road, it’s a steep drop down about 300 feet.
“We’ll be fine,” they insist.
“There will be no way to turn around down there,” I say in the most foreboding tone I can muster. “You will have to stop half-way down and will have to carry it the rest of the way.” They shrug. I’m soaked. I’ve made my point. They follow, with me watching them in my rear-view mirror, wondering how smart they will be. They get to the top of the cliff part of the road and stop. By now they can see how narrow the road is, and that it’s coated in a thick layer of wet leaves. They have sense after all. I back up the steep incline that I have already started down. I leap out of the car again (remembering to set the parking brake). “I’m just worried about these brakes,” the driver says, saving face.
As luck would have it, my landscaper is at the house, blowing wet leaves off my roof and walkways. I figure he’s in need of cash for Black Friday because it’s the only reason I can imagine anyone would want to blow wet leaves off a roof in the pouring rain.
He agrees to get Sleep Country USA boys and mattress (with bunky-board. Seriously. That’s what it’s called. It’s a board that you lay in a bed-frame that holds the mattress) in his loud, coughing pick-up. A few minutes later I hear them sputtering back. The boys prop a plastic coated mattress and bunky-board against the house. Booties go on. A red mat is placed on the floor, for what I have no idea. So the mattress can make a Hollywood entrance? They haul my sad old IKEA twin mattress outside and leave it in the rain. Plastic comes off bunky board (damn spell-check keeps changing it to funky board, which I actually like better) and it’s carried upstairs. But my antique bed frame has no slats. I don’t know where the slats are. They can’t put funky-board (oh, to hell with it) or mattress in place without slats. They leave them propped against a wall. I sign my acceptance of the mattress and funky board, but they have forgotten the sheets that were supposed to have been “thrown in.”
“This sure is a nice place, but boy that’s a crazy road!” Sleep Country USA boy says as he leaves.
Landscaper hauls old bed and Sleep Country USA boys back up the hill in his dying yellow pickup.
On the ferry-ride home I receive a call. A survey about the delivery.
“Is this the BEST delivery you have ever had? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.”
I press 1.
And now I am left with the slat problem. I thought they were at the house here in Seattle. They are not. I have discovered that Lowes will cut lumber for you in the store. If only I knew what size to cut that lumber to. It’s pouring rain again today. Landscaper is coming back to finish his job. I’ve already texted him about measuring for the slats.
Now Carter is home with a stomach ache. I will to go to Lowes and buy lumber that they will cut into a size that landscaper has measured for me. I will take Carter to the doctor. I will pick up the turkey I ordered. I will meet with Olivia’s math teacher, take her to DMV to replace a lost license. I will pick up my mother-in-law from the airport and in the dark and pouring rain we will ease down that kooky road. I will wake up at 7am to begin baking pies, peeling potatoes, stuffing the turkey, making cranberry sauce. And finally I will sit at a table with friends and family gathered, in front of the most delicious food and I can’t even tell you how thankful I will be.