I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with my daughters and grandson. Holidays should be spent with family, and I was appreciative of this opportunity. The feast was being hosted by my ex-husband’s wife’s sister and brother-in-law. Sound complicated? Welcome to my life.It’s been a rough year. So when I received the email invitation that included a note specifically welcoming me, I did what any sad woman with a broken heart does – I burst into tears. After cleaning off the running makeup and downing a glass of wine, I read the rest of the email. There was a menu attached, along with suggestions for items that were still needed. Deviled eggs. They needed deviled eggs. I like deviled eggs. I like experimenting with recipes. So I signed on for deviled egg duty and commenced to searching for recipes. My recipe search included two objectives – one was to find an outstanding recipe for the egg filling, the other was to find a recipe for making the perfect hard-boiled egg. It was pretty easy to find both quickly.
I was planning to make two dozen eggs, which meant 48 halves. I calculated this would be enough for the 30 people who were coming for dinner. Not everyone likes deviled eggs, and there would be so much other food. I almost felt guilty about choosing such an easy assignment. This wasn’t going to be deviled eggs, this was going to be a piece of cake.Twas the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house it smelled like methane gas. There were 24 perfectly cooked eggs sitting in the sink in a bucket of cold water. They needed two hours of refrigeration, so by 9PM I would be ready to start peeling. I set up shop in front of the TV thinking it would be almost meditative, though really it would be vegetative. I carefully chose the first egg from the bowl, gently cracked it against the side of the bowl and started to peel. Hmmm, the shell was not sliding off the egg as the recipe said it would. I applied a bit more pressure and a few little chips of shell came off the egg, along with a big chuck of egg white. OK, so I got one bad egg out of the bunch. I spent a good five minutes, which in egg peeling time is a lifetime, to remove all the shell from just that first egg. The egg looked like it had fallen onto an IED in Iraq. It was pitted and uneven and little tiny slivers of shell were embedded in it. I remained optimistic about the other 23 eggs. I was so wrong. For two hours I fought with those eggs. Pieces of shell covered the chair and the floor around me. When all was said and done, I had a bowl of 24 of the ugliest eggs I had ever seen. It looked like a science experiment gone awry. Thank God for deviled egg trays – they would hide the damage – at least until an unsuspecting diner slid one out of its cozy nook. I know I overheard a few, “What the heck…..s” as everyone slammed through the buffet line. I simply didn’t take credit for making the deviled eggs. I told everyone the awesome Mac n cheese was my creation.
Joviality aside, the holidays are not about the food or the presents or the parties or the decorations. They are about family and friends and the home front. Late last night I was winding down, checking email and Facebook before heading off to bed. As I logged onto FB, I looked to see who was online. I clicked on a name and typed “Hello”, not sure if I would receive a reply. And just that quickly, I became engaged in a conversation that literally transported me round the world.Michael Roberts is a US Army helicopter fighter pilot currently serving a tour of duty in Iraq. I came to know Mike through my daughter and her circle of friends. It was 11:30PM here on the east coast, but for Mike, it was 7:30am and he was just starting his day. It felt strange communicating with someone who was on the other side of the world on the other side of the day. It was just some small talk, catching up. But it ended with my usual plea – “Stay safe and come home soon.” I realized that Mike, along with thousands of other servicemen and women, had spent Thanksgiving in the Middle East, far from friends and family. And most of them will also be spending Christmas away as well. So when you get frustrated because the malls are crowded, holiday traffic is a nightmare, your in-laws are overstaying their welcome or you screwed up the deviled eggs, take a minute to think about just how good you have it. I bet those soldiers would trade places with you in a minute – and they would have loved those eggs.