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Halloween is rapidly approaching, but it’s Thanksgiving that takes center stage in Beached — and as you might imagine, Mer’s holiday involves far more than a traditional meal.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I tend to default to a standard menu: roast turkey with herb butter and caramelized-onion gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, a second wildcard vegetable, homemade cranberry sauce, assorted relishes, and rolls. For desert, I make a killer dried cranberry and apple pie, and my grandmother’s pecan pie.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to tackle a meal of this magnitude—and preparation is key. A comprehensive shopping list is the foundation upon which all else is built. But there’s more. Cranberry sauce can be made ahead. Veggies can be peeled or blanched. Tables can be cleared and set. Even wine can be opened early—just be sure to have more for the guests.

Probably the biggest tip I can offer is not to go this meal alone. I did. Once.

Thanksgiving is a symbolic meal. Home and hearth and family themes permeate the holiday. Magazine layouts depict tables laden with crystal and china, a platter with a holiday bird that could only have come from Martha Stewart’s oven, and someone holding a carving knife who looks as if she actually intends to use it on the turkey, and not her family.

I speak from experience when I say that many a cook has gotten herself caught up in the presentation of perfection when we all know life is messy. Yet no matter how intelligent the hostess, this is not a lesson that can be taught.

Sadly, it must be experienced.

Chapter 6~
Mer considered herself a reasonably intelligent woman, but smart wasn’t the word used to describe a person who went to the grocery store the night before Thanksgiving.

Beached launches January 10, 2018!