While the appeal of a holiday based on assembling your best pals for the sole purpose of consuming festive eats and drinks is understandable, there’s no room on my plate for Friendsgiving. Ask my co-workers and family, and they will tell you I am not feeling particularly friendly on the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Traveling the narrow path between home and bakery and back again, I am in a constant state of simmer, like a stockpot of sweetened condensed milk morphing into dulce de leche. My temper teeters on explosion, making me an unlikely candidate to attend an event based on comraderie. There's a reason for this and it has to do with pies and people and pressure.
The mental and physical pressures of Pie-mageddon are staggering. Tethered to rolling pins and pie plates, I bob and weave against a steady onslaught of pumpkin puree and unruly apples. I am a liaison between pie shells and fresh fruit, an ambassador of sweeteners and spices, a pie traffic controller, guiding and overseeing hundreds of pies as they embark on their oven journey. Armed with a pair of worn oven mitts that are just the slightest bit crunchy on the inside, I march across a battlefield of butter, flour, sugar, fruit, and nuts. Nuts are not limited to pecan halves and pieces, but extend to the occasional retail customer. The one who needs more chocolate lining the bottom of their pecan pie. The one who wants a smaller ratio of cranberries to apples in their cranberry/apple pie. The individual bad mouthing the oatmeal almond crumb, imploring for a crumb pie without the crumb on top. The person who feels the need to go on social media insinuating there must be another bakery in town where she can secure an apple pie. Friendsgiving? I couldn’t possibly and you wouldn’t want me, so please don’t add an extra place setting. You will be better suited inviting someone who is happy to contribute a pie still warm from the oven, melting the plastic of the Tupperware carrier, the lid slightly askew.
I haven’t time for Friendsgiving, because I’m too busy worrying. Worrying about the pies and whether there will be enough room in the ovens and the walk-in refrigerators, and whether or not the pies will find good homes. The seven hundred or so individuals swarming into the bakery next Wednesday are preoccupied and distracted. From a safe distance in the rear of the kitchen, I’ll witness a blur of windowed pie boxes launched from metro shelving into kraft paper shopping bags. Shopping bags that barely accommodate the fragile pies. Pies hot enough to burn through your favorite cashmere gloves with the ribbed cuffs. With the free falling finesse of a tilt-a-whirl, double crusted apples and delicate pumpkin custards will land with a not-so-gentle thud, jostled by the next coffee-clutching person in line. My eyes get misty just thinking about it. The nightmare of watching people mistreat your pies by carelessly tossing them into the backseat of their SUV is real. You wouldn’t treat your baby-on-board that way, would you?
A Thanksgiving pie maker's dream is a table surrounded by happily sated guests, leaning back in their chairs, slightly giddy from that last smidgen of pie. The ultimate compliment is learning that pie is the first thought that crosses someone's mind the morning after Thanksgiving. Drowsy from tryptophan, many will pad their way to the kitchen in fleece-lined slippers and flannel pajamas. Struggling with the French press and fumbling for a fork, they will aim for the nearest pie plate leftovers.
Friendsgiving may find you seated on a folding chair in a tiny apartment, balancing a plate on your lap. It might mean the discomfort of whacking your leg against the leg of an expandable IKEA table stretched between two rooms. It may also require a journey on mass transit, promising an abbreviated holiday schedule. Regardless, be sure to wear something featuring an expandable waistband and tote along a few empty Tupperware containers for leftovers. As for cutting the turkey without me, I insist, Friends, go right ahead.