Lumpy Potatoes, Anyone?

Posted by jill.ellingson • 9 comments

COVID Thanksgiving “Adjustments”

Happy Thanksgiving 2020!  This Thanksgiving will look quite different for many families.  Many of us are used to gathering with family and friends, sitting around a table together, laughing, passing dishes we all touched, maybe even holding hands (GASP!)  and praying together.  Now we aren’t even supposed to be in the same HOUSE with someone who lives outside of our own households.

My Thanksgiving went from traveling to California to visit my son & his girlfriend, to hosting a very small gathering, to now doing meals on wheels and delivering food to loved ones.  In theory, this sounds ok.  Even fun maybe?  Except for one thing – I don’t “do” Thanksgiving.  I mean, I don’t host it, don’t want to host it, and vowed years ago to never host it.

Why I Don’t Host Thanksgiving

I.  Other People Are So Much Better at it than Me!

What’s this Thanksgiving Scrooge business all about and why won’t I host it?  A couple of reasons.  One – two other incredible women in my family (my Mom, and my Aunt Julie) have historically rotated hosting and put on a very delicious and impressive Thanksgiving spread.  Two years ago, I only had to bring buns to the gathering.  The year before that – beer.  That’s my kind of Thanksgiving!  Show up with carbs that took me 5 minutes to buy!  I have other strengths.  Thanksgiving meal preparation is not one of them.

II.  Too Much Pressure

Secondly – despite the fact that I love to cook, I am a bit of a high maintenance gal in that I like my food HOT.  Not lukewarm.  And certainly not room temperature (eww, eww, eww).  To make all the Thanksgiving food, and ensure it is all done at the same time and HOT, is a lot of freaking pressure.  Plus, guess what?  I only like turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.  That’s it.

As a kid, I was forced to try stuffing and unfortunately had an embarrassing gagging incident while eating the ice-cold puck of guck, so stuffing is a hard no for me.  I still can’t figure out how cranberries fit in with this meal, and I don’t like them anyway.  I like green beans, and I like many casseroles (Minnesota girl at heart!).  But green bean casserole?  Are those crunchy things on top even a real food?  Not interested.  Lastly, I over-ate corn as a kid as it was the only “vegetable” I would eat so I just don’t care for it at all now as an adult.  And – those of you who mix your corn into your potatoes?  And then smother it all with gravy?  SO WRONG. Texture, texture, texture!   Corn does not belong in mashed potatoes (though pretty sure I’m in the minority on this one).

The ONLY Reason I am Cooking Thanksgiving Food This Year – COVID

Which brings me to my next story. I like efficiency. No, I love efficiency.  And I’m freaking out a bit about making all this food to deliver on Thanksgiving.  Even though it doesn’t all have to be hot as everyone will heat it up on their own when they want to eat, I still don’t want to be up at 3am cooking 20 things, 17 of which I don’t even like.  So, I researched what things I could make ahead of time – including one of the biggest Thanksgiving time-suckers – mashed potatoes! BRILLIANT!  I never knew those could be made ahead of time.  So, this evening as I’m boiling two pots of potatoes (5 lbs. each) and recalling the last time I made mashed potatoes (over 10 years ago), I remember I used a hand mixer to get them extra creamy and get the lumps out.  I’m beating my potatoes after boiling and straining them, adding a little butter and ½ and ½ (except for the small set-aside portion for my non-dairy daughter – you’re welcome Rachel) and I can almost taste the perfection of my creamy mashed potatoes.  I decide I must try them and take a small bite.  Savoring the flavor in my mouth, I pause…. what is that?  A piece of corn?  How did that get into my potatoes?  Upon closer reflection, I realize it was not corn of course, but a LUMP.  A small LUMP of potato.  No, no, no, no…please no.  How could there possibly be ANY lumps in my perfectly creamed masterpiece?

I google, “what causes lumps in … (and Google pre-fills “mashed potatoes” – thank God I’m not the only one!) and then I type “how to get rid of … (again, Google pre-fills “lumps in mashed potatoes” – not “your children when they won’t leave home,” or “zits over 40”) – crazy, creepy and cool all at the same time. Google knows what I need tonight!  As I read on, I’m realizing I did everything right so I’m dumfounded.  And then it hits me.  I forgot one crucial step in making MASHED potatoes.  I FORGOT TO MASH THEM.  I’m seriously laughing and crying at the same time.  It’s in the TITLE OF THE FOOD and I forgot to mash the darn things.

Lumpy Mashed Potatoes Rule

So, what the hell.  Maybe I’ll try adding corn to my mashed potatoes – they already have lumps in them anyway.   The good news is that the old (less wise, people pleasing) me would have run out to the grocery store, bought 10 more pounds of potatoes, started over and been up until midnight making “perfect” mashed potatoes.  But guess what?  I’m working on ditching that perfectionism thing.  And it’s much more fun to tell a story about lumpy, imperfect potatoes, than to brag about how wonderful my meal was – that’s not even interesting, right?   So lumpy, imperfect potatoes it is! (Though it IS still after midnight as I write this…hmmm)

Imperfection Also Rules

I hope you all can find some bright spots and have some fun this Thanksgiving no matter what it looks like.  I hope if you find a lump in your mashed potatoes, you’ll smile and think of all that is beautifully imperfect in our lives, and remember we can be grateful despite the lumps (in life OR potatoes!).  I’m so grateful that I have loved ones to bring food TO.  And, that I bought pre-made gravy so I don’t have to deal with making that in the morning!  :))))

May this Thanksgiving bring some laughter and gratefulness for all that is still good in this crazy time we are all in.

Much Love –


9 Responses

  1. Bridget says:

    I enjoyed this message! Happy Thanksgiving, Jill!

  2. Bridget says:

    I enjoyed this message! Happy Thanksgiving, Jill!!

  3. Angela Hassebroek says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Jill! You are a woman of many talents!

  4. Chris says:

    ?? you should have called me! I have this meal perfected! Lol… loved your story! Thank you for the smile this morning!!

  5. Marilyn says:

    Reading your message was the the perfect way to start my Thanksgiving Day. I haven’t even had my coffee yet! Love you so…Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  6. Mary says:

    Yes we all have some lumps in our lives snd need to embrace them. Love this Jill!!

  7. Zanny johnson says:

    Thanks for the laughs, my friend–such a great message. Here’s to lumps!

  8. Gary says:

    Made me laugh. Or you can do a mashed potato head fake and go with sweet potatoes instead…next year! Masterfully written.

  9. Lori says:

    As someone who had lumps AND skins in her mashed potatoes, I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed your story. Miss you!

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