Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving: the good, the bad, and The Great Wine Fiasco of 2013

11 years ago we celebrated Thanksgiving as Hawaii residents for the first time, by flying back to the place we still considered "home". We had only been living in Maui for about 6 months, and I was terribly homesick. I loved Maui, I just felt lonely and isolated. I hated my job. I missed New York City at Thanksgiving.

10 years ago, we decided to really go for it, and host Thanksgiving dinner at our home in Hawaii - which was now, just a year later, feeling much more home-like. We invited over our crew of island orphans, I set a pumpkin pie on fire, I think we rented a bounce house. Things got nuts. It was a great day.

And so began our tradition of holding big parties 2 or 3 times a year. Thanksgiving, my birthday, and our anniversary. This Thanksgiving we were expecting most of the regular crew. (The only "bad" part of our Thanksgiving this year is that a few folks will be off-island, and they will certainly be missed - but Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving, and the show must go on.)

In the morning? A pie party and Capture the Flag tournament.

In the afternoon, Holley came to help set up, while I roasted 2 turkeys, made stuffing, simmered the cranberry sauce, and slaved over my famous creamed onions. (Famous to everyone who likes creamed onions, that is.)

Max set up the pop up tents and tables on the patio.

Lucy decorated the tree and put up Christmas lighting.

There was some last minute frantic bathroom cleaning and bed making.

Then we got dressed up.

And Sarah carved the turkeys.

And Sam poured wine and filled coolers.

And I bustled around as the house filled and then overflowed onto porches.

Dinner is served promptly at 6-ish. Or whenever we're ready. It was a gorgeous, starry night. Cool and clear.

After dinner the bonfire was set. The pie table open for business. Also, drunk pumpkin custard served in mini pie shells (take THAT Martha Stewart) and holiday-themed shots. Things sometimes get a little crazy at this point.

But not crazy enough for what we will forevermore refer to as "The Great Wine Fiasco of 2013".

I say 2013, for the sake of clarification. It will not surprise you to learn that this is not the first time we have had a Great Wine Fiasco. Previous Great Wine Fiascos have included:

2005 - The year that we moved the day before Thanksgiving, and all of our wine openers inexplicably disappeared - a fact we did not discover until dinnertime and all of the stores were closed. That was the year we opened bottles of wine with steak knives, and poured everything through a sieve. (This was a revival of the Great Wine Fiasco of 2003, another missing wine key snafu, which had a much less positive outcome and a lot of broken glass.)

2008 - the year I learned that some people still enjoy white wine. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?

2009 - the year that a friend's boyfriend told me that my wine - which was admittedly a $3 per bottle varietal - tasted like shit. Which was the year I stopped providing wine and told everyone BYOB.

2011 - the year we ran out of wine. But it was BYOB so really, not my problem. We didn't run out of turkey, now, did we?

This is our Thanksgiving 2013 bar. We set it up outside this year, right beside the gate. You walk in, and there you are, face to face with cups, coolers, wine keys, ice, bottle openers, even a sharpie to mark your own cup. Literally the first thing you see. I was way ahead of the game. There would be no Great Wine Fiasco on my watch, dammit. People didn't have to drag their coolers all over the house, it freed up some counter space, and it was under a tent next to the recycling bin. A comprehensive set up.

But it turns out that despite the best laid plans, people will still lose all common sense and decorum where alcohol is concerned.

Now, this year we did have a few mitigating factors to contend with. There was, to start, a bit of a wine shortage, and also some cheap wine in the mix. Also, some heavy drinkers, and some who prefer to sip and savor. We also have those who follow directions, and those that think rules are for people who can't make their own way in the world. All of which led to this, the Great Wine Fiasco of 2013.

In retrospect, I think that some people attending a BYOB event may not be familiar with the BYOB concept - or maybe they just don't care because they are such drunks consequences mean nothing to them. They approach BYOB as a chance to drop off the crap booze and grab an upgrade. Or perhaps once they start drinking they lose all sense of decorum. Or all of the above. Probably all of the above. Not for me to say - I can only speak for myself when I say that once I start drinking, everything is fair game, including whatever you have in your glass. This is why I no longer drink.

But I digress.

And so it came to pass that someone brought a lovely bottle of wine for their dinner, opened it, poured a glass, and set the glass and bottle aside, far, far away from the bar area, next to their bag. When later they went to have a sip of their chosen beverage, the bottle was missing. And, upon further research, the glass as well. We found the bottle empty in the trash. Someone else was drinking out of their glass.

Poor form indeed. Or pour form. Whatever. This is like showing up with a case of warm, cheap beer and then helping yourself to someone's cooler of microbrew. Don't be that guy.

In the season of holiday giving, you better keep your hands to yourself where other people's alcohol is concerned. It's all about the love, until it's about someone drinking all of your wine and tossing the bottle in the trash as they walk off with your glass. Next time, I'm buying boxed wine and locking up the glasses.
Problem? Solved. Bonus? We can all enjoy a rousing game of "Slap Bag" because, clearly, this is that kind of crowd.


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