The Office Thanksgiving Feast Assignment

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Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?

Trying to avoid having 17 different people bring cranberry sauce to a pre-Thanksgiving office potluck is a feat unto itself.

Thanksgiving is a great American holiday that brings together family and friends to share a hearty meal. If you can avoid discussions of politics and religion, which I’m sure the Pilgrims and Indians did at that first Thanksgiving, everyone will have a good time.
As a long-time IT Professional, I participated in many office pre-Thanksgiving feasts. Some places have catered the entire meals, others offer a potluck solution. Usually there’s a sign-up sheet or a specific assignment so everyone can participate and avoid 17 people bringing cranberry sauce.
This was my third Thanksgiving at Northwell, they decided to assign specific items. With Northwell providing the turkey, the staff furnishes everything else. Somehow, I drew one of the stuffing assignments. There was no other information, other than to bring a half Sterno tray of stuffing.
In my world, stuffing comes out of a small, red box with the words “Stove Top” on the face. I’ve had much success with that product, using it inside numerous Thanksgiving turkeys over the years. You follow the directions, stuff it into the turkey and you’re done. No-fuss, no muss.

But I knew my old faithful wouldn’t work in this situation. I didn’t feel comfortable using store-bought stuffing. I wanted to make it from scratch. I didn’t want to suffer the indignity of everyone knowing that I bought a couple of boxes of “Stove Top” and la-dee-da’d my way through my assignment. No sir, they assigned me stuffing, stuffing is what they were going to get.
I picked up two packages of Pepperidge Farms bread stuffing. What, you thought I was going to make the bread from scratch? Come on. After reading the directions, I needed onions, celery and chicken broth. I wanted to add my own touch to the stuffing, so I bought some sausage and mushrooms.
I spent a few hours getting everything prepared, dicing the onions and meticulously chopping the celery and portobello mushrooms. While cooking the sausage and mushrooms I noticed how good my kitchen smelled.

Preparing the stuffing, I sautéed the onions and celery in butter, added the chicken broth and then the bread cubes. I added the sausage and mushrooms, and before I knew it, I had home-made stuffing. Easy, peasy.
Of course, my kitchen was now a disaster. Everywhere I looked were cutting boards, knives, empty bowls and debris. But before I could tackle that nightmare, I put the stuffing into a Sterno tray, cooked it for a while, and refrigerated it until the office feast.
The next day, there was plenty of food for everyone. People with a real talent for desserts didn’t disappoint. There were side dishes, salads and plenty of vegetables to go along with the carved turkey.

My coworkers lined both sides of the seemingly never-ending rectangular table as they filled their plates. There were similar items on each side, so people didn’t have to reach across the table, including multiple identical-looking trays of stuffing. Let’s face it, stuffing is stuffing, and I wasn’t about to be picking through different trays to find mine. To be honest, they all looked the same.
By the end of the feast, almost all the stuffing was gone, so hats off to my fellow stuffing makers. We really hit it out of the park.

But something disturbing sat at the end of the table. There were six different trays of cranberry sauce. How is that an assignment? I spent an hour shopping, three hours preparing, two hours putting it together and another three hours cleaning up. Yet six different people got assigned cranberry sauce. I don’t even like cranberry sauce.
I’m sure even the Pilgrims and Indians had cranberry sauce on that first Thanksgiving. I’m also sure that whoever spent three days preparing the Turkey whispered to her husband, “Next year we’re bringing the cranberry sauce.”

Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.

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