A snow-covered turkey and Thanksgiving chicken nuggets

[Tweet “HOUSE GUEST: The charming Crystal Ponti is pulling up a seat and dishing on her big holiday flub”]

It is an absolute treat to bring you an original tale of holiday woe by my dear friend, Crystal Ponti. Don’t worry though because this tale will leave you laughing and counting your blessing this Thanksgiving! Crystal is my co-producer for the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER 2015 show that is coming to Bangor. She is clever, hilarious, and easily one of the smartest women I have had the pleasure to work with. I met Crystal when I was accepted into her recently published Amazon bestseller, Clash of the Couples.

crystalIf you are just tuning in, the House Guest series introduces emerging and established voices in the mom blogger world to the Housewife Plus audience. The writers featured here share their stories about parenting, marriage, and life in general. They are sometimes serious, other times funny, but always real.

By Crystal Ponti

The holidays always make me a little batty. Between the planning and the doing, I’m a case study for the next generation of anti-anxiety medication. Sprinkle on some anger management and OCD gone wild…that’s me. One crazy-riddled, meltdown prone woman who has to have the labels on the cranberry sauce all facing the same direction.

Thankfully, things typically go as planned. Then there’s Thanksgiving 1994. This was the year that tested my newfound Better Crocker abilities in an environment that can only be described as…a makeshift psycho ward.

We were living in a half-finished house with a kitchen that had not yet been equipped with counters or a real refrigerator. Since our mini fridge was stuffed to the brim with veggies, apple juice, and a gazillion other things that only a two and four-year-old could need, I was forced to store our turkey on the front porch for a few days. The temps had been relatively cold, but not to the point of freezing. So I thought.

When I woke up Thanksgiving morning, I was excited to break out the poultry bag and whip up some divine Wolfgang stuffing. Sipping my first cup of coffee by the large picture window, I blinked a few times to clear the cobwebs from my eyes. That’s when I realized that Charlotte had not spun a luxury condo across our glass window pane. It was snow. And a lot of it!

Outside Mother Nature raged with fury. She assaulted everything in her path, including our twenty-two pound bird now frozen to the deck floor and covered in six inches of wet, heavy snow. As two raucous toddlers grabbed at my robe from behind, I tried everything to free Tom from his frozen grave. I kicked him in the keister a few times (or was it his neck?) and poked at him with a broom. I even poured a pan of hot water over his plastic-wrapped carcass in a vain attempt to recover the main course of a Thanksgiving dinner that was looking more than iffy.

After battling with Tom for fifteen minutes in the blistering cold, I finally freed him…only to discover that he had completely refrozen. Turkey would not be on the menu later that night. I thought I heard “Let It Go” playing in the background.

Back inside I rummaged through our little freezer to see if dinner could be saved. There was a box of chocolate ice cream, six trays of ice cubes, and chicken nuggets. What paired with smashed potatoes and an assortment of veggies? Not the Ben & Jerry’s. Chicken nuggets it would be.

It was time to tackle the homemade yeast rolls that my grandmother used to make. All of the ingredients were lined up on our dining room table…except for the yeast. I had asked my then husband to pick up this critical ingredient when he stopped at the local market the day before. But all I could find was a few packages of instant gravy mix and a new box of cornstarch.

“Where did you put the yeast you bought yesterday?” I asked, not expecting the answer I would receive.

“I couldn’t find yeast. So I grabbed cornstarch.” He looked pleased with his substitution efforts.

“CORNSTARCH?!?! What?” I asked like I hadn’t heard him correctly.

“Yeast makes things thicker, right? So I got cornstarch instead.”

I was flabbergasted. “Yeast makes things rise, you lumberjack! Like the rolls we were supposed to have with dinner! I can’t use cornstarch!”

Again, I frantically searched to see what we could use in place of homemade rolls. There was a partial bag of croissants and a half-eaten loaf of Italian bread. Good enough for me!

Thinking all disasters had been averted, I realized I hadn’t bought canned pumpkin for the pies I was planning to make. Oh well, I had plenty of vanilla  pudding and whipped cream. Even the best restaurants pull the JELL-O card when necessary, right?

Turkey was out of the question, but I was determined that stuffing would remain on the menu. No holiday dinner was complete without this good ole’ standby. I ripped up a bag of stuffing bread and set it aside in a bowl as I gathered the remaining ingredients. Before mixing everything together, I made a mad dash to the bathroom. When I returned, the bowl of bread was gone. Did the ghost of Tom sneak in and snatch it? That’s when I heard snickering coming from our back room.

The sight in front of me consisted of my two young sons feeding the birds that didn’t exist from a second-story window. The bread was now either floating through the snow-filled air or in a mushy mound on the ground below. Great. I had lost the stuffing bread. And my mind was rushing to catch up.

Our menu now consisted of chicken nuggets, an assortment of two-week old bread and croissants, smashed potatoes (that I’d made ahead of time like a pro), several cans of unsalted (ooops) vegetables, and pudding. It sounded more like dinner at frat house than Thanksgiving at mine. I considered hazing Tom in the name of all things maniacal.

When dinner time rolled around, I placed our five-course meal lovingly on the table. The boys cheered and bounced in their seats. “Nuggies!” “Putting!” They were pleased with the outcome. My then husband, however, looked as confused as a meatball in a vegan sub.

“Don’t ask,” was all I could muffle.

Although this Thanksgiving will be remembered as the holiday that nearly put me into a padded cell, it ended with smiles and little whipped cream-covered noses. We had everything we could wish for, even if it did include Thanksgiving chicken nuggets.

crystalBIO: Crystal Ponti is the founder of Blue Lobster Book Co., a self-publishing boutique. Prior to launching her own business, she worked for and advised some of the largest sites in the world and spent a number of years as a business and marketing planning consultant. She recently served as Managing Editor, Contributing Author, and publisher of the books The Mother of All Meltdowns and Clash of the Couples. She blogs at MommiFried, an outlet for her creative writing and a way for her to share her later-in-motherhood experiences with all women and parents. She is a regular contributor to Felicity Huffman’s site What The Flicka? and Business2Community, and is also a Huffington Post blogger. When she is not busy consulting, blogging, or writing, she can be found nurturing a beautiful family of five children, a wonderfully Italian husband, and an African-gray parrot with a colorful vocabulary.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.