Those of you who have attended my ADHD presentations at CHADD, ADDA and elsewhere, might have already heard about my holiday dinner disaster story, and like I promised in an earlier post, I’m going to share it with you, here.
It happened a number of years after I’d been diagnosed with ADHD and I had already gotten to the point of working hard at accepting my ADHD and learning to make accommodations for it. Still, one never knows when the ADHD blooper can take you down…
In all my adult years as a married woman with children, I had never hosted a Passover dinner. For those of you not familiar with this Jewish holiday, let’s just say that it involves about 100 different dishes that have to be served in a fairly systematic way. Ok, so I’m exaggerating. Maybe 10 dishes…
Luckily, over the last 30 years or so, my mother-the-gourmet-cook gladly took this on, inviting anywhere from 12 to 20 people to her home and cooking everything from scratch. (The cooking gene in my family obviously skipped a generation).
Back to the story. About 8 years ago, I decided that I wanted to have Passover dinner at my home. Armed with all kinds of ADD friendly tips, I knew exactly what I would do to make this successful with the least amount of stress. So….I picked up the phone and invited my family and chuckled at the gasps on the other end of the line. Historically, my contribution had been the relish tray (how hard is it to slice tomatoes and pickles?). But like I said, I had a plan…
I called the local catering company that specializes in holiday meals. When the lady asked me what I wanted to order, I froze. How MUCH chicken do you order for 12 people? How many servings of gefilte fish do you buy? One per person? Two? Already, I felt my confidence begin to fade. Until the helpful lady on the line walked me through the entire order. Stuffing or baked potatoes? She helped me decide on everything, thank goodness.
I realized at that moment, that it was a slam dunk. All I had to do now was to get the house in order (and that is a TALL order for someone with ADHD). But I felt I could get that done, again using the tips I’ve shared over the years with my readers, clients, etc.
Basically, I focused on the few rooms in my home that people would be using. I crossed the entire upstairs off my list. I got the dishes in order, set the table, and just did the best I could without overly obsessing over the whole thing. That alone was a huge shift in my attitude about living with ADHD: letting go of internalized expectations (thank you to Sari Solden’s book, “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder” which I recommend everyone read at least once).
The big day arrived and I smirked to myself as I drove cross town to the restaurant. Finally, I could be a true “grown up” and have people over for a wonderful meal. It didn’t matter to me whether I cooked it or not!
I picked up boxes and boxes of food, realizing that this method of surviving the holiday probably cost me a mortgage payment, but to me, it was worth every penny.
As I drove home, I had the window down, exhilarated by the unusually warm spring day. As I passed house after house, I got smug, visualizing all the poor women slaving over hot stoves on such a warm day.
Once I arrived back home, I decided to do another once over to make sure the house was presentable (note the word presentable; not spotless/perfect). I tidied up a bit, checked the clock, then calculated what time I’d need to turn the oven on in order to warm up all the food. 5:30 5:30 5:30. You see, I use a mantra system when I need to remember such things.
5:30 came and thankfully I remembered to turn the stove on. I opened up the refrigerator door to pull out all the food but stopped dead in my tracks.
You see, there WAS no food in the fridge. My mind raced- who took all the food? Why would someone do that? Then in a second, it dawned on me:
I’d left a few hundred dollars worth of food in my car trunk and it had been sitting in a hot garage for 7 hours. People with ADHD might be risk takers, but I wasn’t about to earn the nickname “Typhoid Terry”. I tossed out all the food. But I started to panic- twelve hungry people were about to leave their homes to come for a hot, delicious holiday meal. And I had nothing to offer, unless you’d consider tuna and boiled peanuts Passover fare.
The solution came to me in a flash, luckily, and I quickly called all of my guests, announcing that we were going to have the first ever Passover smorgasbord. I asked everyone to grab whatever they happened to have in their fridge and just bring it by. I still fretted, though- what if everyone brought day old tuna casserole??
My trusty husband, Jerry, came to the rescue. He dashed out and picked up a ton of readymade chicken, just to be on the safe side.
Luckily, everyone had great things to bring (unlike me, they COOK every day).
So though we didn’t have the traditional holiday dishes, we enjoyed this very funny dinner and realized that after all, it’s not what you eat, but who you eat it with.