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Thankful for the ridges on cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving is not a holiday that brings out the best in me. Thanksgiving instead usually showcases the fact that I am, at best, a mediocre cook. The holiday also highlights other traits of mine which may be considered less than charming. Like the fact that I will only wash dishes with extreme reluctance, I'm often impatient with my family members, I get super grumpy when I'm hungry, and when no one's looking I like to suck gravy straight from the boat with a great big straw.

It's hard to think what holiday I really shine on, but I'm guessing my birthday, my half birthday, and possibly Arbor Day. Too many holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, expect a level of selflessness and generosity from me, and every holiday (except Arbor Day) seem to require cooking. I can grill up a chicken hotdog on the Fourth of July, but that's about the extent of my holiday cooking experience. And that's only if I don't have to light the grill.

The couple of times I have been put in charge of cooking the turkey on Thanksgiving I used the plastic bag method. Grocery stores sell those excellent bags that you wrap your thawed turkey in, set in the oven, and don't have to think about again. I know to a purist (or just your average good cook) this is actually steaming, and not roasting, the turkey, but it seems to come out fine and I have never given anyone in my family food poisoning. Narrowly avoiding food poisoning is something I've been extremely thankful for every year that I lose the turkey-cooking roulette.

This year I'm also thankful that my sister is going to come down from the exotic metropolis of Portland to join me and my parents for Thanksgiving. I miss her, I want her to move back to Ashland so that I can see her without first having to listen to five hours straight of Spongebob Squarepants on my son Silas' portable DVD player playing in the backseat. Don't get me wrong, as much as that burger-frying sponge can grate on my last nerve, I'm thankful he exists; I distinctly remember me and my sister singing "Little Bunny Foo Foo" on car trips. I'm shocked that my parents are still willing to speak to me after forcing that upon them.

Silas and I are both grateful for cranberry sauce. Not the chunky homemade stuff that people spend lots of time and effort on; Silas and I like the stuff straight from a can that has the consistency of a thick Jell-O. Nothing brings out the grumpy, selfish, pouting version of me faster than sitting down at a table and seeing that a guest has generously brought their own homemade cranberry sauce. My mom, upon seeing my stuck-out bottom lip and crossed arms, will roll her eyes and bring out a nice, fresh can for Silas and me to share. Cranberry sauce is the best when you can still see the ridges from the can along the sides.

This year I signed up to work on Thanksgiving. This gives me the chance to only be awake long enough to gorge myself on anything gravy-soaked, including my side of the tablecloth, and leave. Hopefully I can time it just right and get out of doing the dishes as well.

Sorry, Mom and Dad, but I have Christmas off, and I promise to steam you a big turkey in a plastic bag then, if you want. I've also perfected my method of getting 98-cent cranberry sauce out of the can with the ridges intact.

Zoe Abel is thankful for many things in her life, mostly her family and friends, but also for gravy and fictional sea sponges. You can contact her at dailyzoe@gmail.com.