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Thanksgiving Stress: Say What You Mean

11/27/2013 05:20 am ET | Updated Jan 26, 2014

I am a little stressed out this Thanksgiving. There's the usual annoyances -- fighting for a parking space at Trader Joes, forgetting the ingredient that I really needed, getting in the line with the brand new cashier at Whole Foods:

What are those? Leeks. What are those? Chestnuts. What are those? Spaghetti squash. What kind of tomatoes are those? No idea.

Add a little jet lag, a spacey head, a bit of a funky stomach, and the pressure of Hanukkah to this week, and it's safe to say -- I just haven't been myself. Yesterday, I stayed in my pajamas all day and ate cream cheese brownie batter for dinner. Raise your hand if you can relate.

Last week I spoke to my NYC daughter to talk about Thanksgiving plans -- when I could expect her home, did she have any unusual dietary concerns this year (Ha!) And this is what she drops in conversation:

"I don't eat canola oil any more." Really? No canola oil? When did canola oil become evil?

"Huh. What kind of oil is acceptable now?" I inquired, praying, but knowing she wouldn't say "vegetable" or "peanut."

"Macadamia nut."

Macadamia nuts? Aren't those the nuts that come in the little glass jar that I don't buy because they cost like a million dollars an ounce? In my head, I'm planning my trip back to Whole Foods. I know which cashier to avoid.

Then my daughter goes in for the kill: "Did you know Sabra Hummus is made with canola oil?"

Ok, be difficult, that's fine -- but how could she do this to her Daddy? Sabra Hummus with Stacy's chips... they're Mike's life blood. I could imagine Mike tossing up his hands: Sabra or Melissa? Sabra or Melissa? Sabra doesn't talk back, Sabra requires a smaller cash outlay. Melissa was treading on thin ground.

We know what my daughter meant to say with all of this: she loves us so very much and would like us to stop eating all the processed crap that will inevitably shorten our life spans. At least that's how we choose to read it.

If family members would just say what they mean on Thanksgiving, maybe we would be better off. But no matter, I have become very adept at reading through the lines.

When my mother says, "Did you buy a kosher turkey?" I know she is really saying: "Kosher turkey is 1000 times better than non-kosher turkey and if you don't serve a kosher turkey, I won't eat turkey... and don't even think about lying about it, because I will be able to tell the difference with one tiny, little bite."

When my son laughs and says, "I'll pick up the Oreos, pickles, and hot dogs for the deep fryer..." Well, if you have adult kids, I don't have to tell you what he is thinking. But that won't be happening.

When my husband says, "Your kitchen is clean, Martha." I am sure what he means is this:  "You do such a wonderful job cooking, honey, I am happy to clean up, since I am so good at that and I know that is not your forte." Well, thanks, honey.

When my mother-in-law calls on Thursday morning (and she will call, I would bet my life on it -- she never reads my articles in the first couple of days) inquiring about the state of my turkey, asking when it went in, what time I will turn it, when I will cover it, what time it will be done, where precisely I stuck the thermometer, she is telling me in no uncertain terms, "Don't you dare screw up the turkey." For the record, I never screw up the turkey.

Despite the tension, the preparation, the unsaid words, the double meanings, I love Thanksgiving. I love being with my family. I love our family traditions: the decorating of the table, the making, de-molding ceremony and later disposal of the jello mold (what is Thanksgiving without the jello mold?), the plucking of the feathers off the kosher turkey -- and my favorite -- a family shot before all the guests arrive.

But this year, I won't be putting out the Sabra Hummus with all that evil canola oil next to the veggies. I am going to have my daughter make the hummus from scratch -- in the Vitamix -- that she covets. And she can go to Whole Foods to pick up the sesame seeds, because I forgot to buy them. And somehow I can't remember what that new cashier looked like.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Things That Automatically Reduce Readers' Stress