In my last post, I described the intensity of my dislike for cooking and entertaining along with a promise to update you on how my dinner went.

On the second day of my “experiment”, I tackled the roast chicken prep. I hadn’t prepared this particular dish in oh, about 8 years, and was unsure of the ingredients. Again, I hunted for the recipe which had been stored in my trusty recipe box for the last 30+ years and oh my…this one was missing as well. I can’t imagine who in their right mind would want to take off with any of my recipes, so I’m assuming I accidently threw it away. Freudians would probably disagree with the “accidently” part.

This is a recipe I had learned from watching my sweet grandmother, who was determined to have this dish handed down for generations to come. Grandma Mollie was a superb cook as is my mother. So obviously, the cooking gene skips a few generations in my family.

Back to the chicken…

I had to wing this one (sorry for the pun, really!) and went by memory. I grated onions in a roasting pan, added garlic, seasoning salt, paprika and my grandmother’s secret ingredient. About 1 ½ hrs before company was to arrive, I popped it in the oven, along with the noodle kugel from the day before, to warm it up.

On with the house chores. No comment. Suffice it to say that as my friend Dr. Ned Hallowell would say, it was “organized enough.”

As family streamed in, my anxiety sky-rocketed. This is when my executive functioning really takes a nose dive. I cannot concentrate, plan or execute much of anything when there are people, sounds and commotion near me. My oldest daughter was on hand to help me out. My youngest, when I asked her to set the table said, “Mom, let’s just use paper plates so you don’t freak so much at clean-up time.”

Finally, everyone sat down and ate. I looked at the faces and enjoyed the silence. Then I worried about the silence until my step-dad piped up, “I didn’t know you had it in you- this is fantastic!.” My mother, the former gourmet cooking teacher, beamed. You’d think I was 10 years old and had won a good citizenship award or something. “A chip off the ol’ block.”

No, not really. More like beginner’s luck.

At any rate, the meal was a success. But what’s the lesson learned from all this?

Was it worth the time, energy, effort, anxiety, stress and fear to put on a holiday meal for my loved ones? Are there other ways to spend holiday time together with family that could have been more enjoyable? All I can say is, I’m so glad it’s over and I’m trying to forget the fact that another Jewish holiday is lurking right around the corner.

How do you handle special occasion meals? What strategies work for you?