A Lighter View…Decorating with Jello

A Lighter View…Decorating with Jello

By By Karen M. Morris

By Karen M. Morris

Freelance Writer

Did our pilgrim mothers really bake cow-sized turkeys with timer buttons that popped out of their tummies for Thanksgiving? Did they assemble 50-pound hors d’oeuvre trays filled with crab meat canapes, cheese-balls, and nachos with salsa? And then delight the hungry masses with marshmallow salad, mountains of fluffy mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and something called dressing that could pass for lawn mulch?

Supposedly, these women got together and spontaneously decided to host a cooking marathon because they were so ecstatic about living in a wilderness without any malls. What were they thinking? Of course, these are the same gals who booked a cruise on a boat without a hair stylist, maitre d’, masseuse, live entertainment, midnight buffets or shuffleboard.

Today, America has immortalized this event with TV and newspaper ads for food. We call it Thanksgiving.

Every year, millions of Americans successfully celebrate this traditional feast…I am not one of them. But what can you expect from someone who hasn’t mastered a bagel warmer, Windows 95 or the lowly one step camera?

I used to clean the entire house with a toothbrush for my guests. Now, they’re lucky to get toilet paper, and I only invite as many relatives as we have chairs. Last week, Morry Jr. broke a folding chair, which means we wont be seeing Uncle Buddy this year.

When my kids help, we spiral into a total meltdown. Like the time they designed a relish tray out of broccoli and globs of soggy liver. Someone had sucked the bacon off the rumaki and had eaten all the carrots, celery and cheese.

Or when Morry Jr. put cough drops in everyone’s water instead of lemon wedges and Leo announced that he’d dropped a contact lens in the scalloped corn and asked for its return if anyone should pass it. This year, I limited Morry Jr. to Jello production and decorations.

So far, the only Thanksgiving tradition my family has managed to establish is setting off the smoke alarm. We’ve hermetically sealed turkeys by cooking them in the bags from the supermarket (the ones with the handles), accidentally torched an entire set of plastic marguerita glasses stored in the oven and fatally injured the stove when she took a direct hit from a box of crayons hidden under the broiler.

Last night, I set the oven on “clean” instead of bake…slowly cooking our 20-pound bird for eight hours at 550 degrees.

“What is that? A Parakeet?” Leo asked poking the carbon turkey with a pencil.

“Don’t play with the food,” I said grabbing the pencil. “Go set the table.”

My beautiful Butterball was the size of a cupcake with two tiny toothpick legs. But I wasn’t worried. This wasn’t going to ruin our meal. My family was accustomed to meatless Thanksgivings.

I decided to perform a little kitchen magic I’d seen on McGyver. By adding two buckets of whipped cream to a square of Jello, he fed an entire train load of starving sanitation workers.

I quickly threw some frozen Cool Whip in the microwave and began digging around the refrigerator for the gelatin salad Morry Jr. had made. I found the Jello hiding behind an empty carton of milk and what I saw was shocking–the milk had expired three months ago.

Something was different about this salad. After a closer examination, I noticed eight little Lego soldiers staring back at me as they lay suspended in the bottom of the bowl of lime-banana jello. When Morry asked about “decorations,” I thought he meant making a turkey by tracing his hand on a paper bag, stuffing it with newspaper and gluing pipe cleaners on it.

By now, the whipped cream had thawed to the consistency of snot and could be sucked up a straw. I’d have to pass it off as a parfait drink and just caution everyone to eat their way around the little Jello mercenaries.

“Leo! Why isn’t the table set?”

“It is.”

“You set up four tray tables in front of the TV.”

“Don’t worry. I put you up close so you could hear.”

“We’re eating in the other ‘dining room’–the one with the boxes of winter clothes and without the Lazy Boy.”

“You can’t see the football game from there.”

“Exactly. We can look out over our park-like backyard and watch God’s beautiful creatures frolic about.”

“We did that last year, remember? The neighbor’s cat dug up a bunch of mouse butts and played with them on our patio. And Morry Jr. got sick on Uncle Buddy.”

After shutting the curtains, I warned everyone to chew their Jello carefully. We ate with plastic sporks because all the silverware was dirty, and everyone drank Cool Whip out of a cup.

This was a feast that even the pilgrims couldn’t top.

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