In my family, Thanksgiving mornings have always been quick, light bites first thing when you wake, as the scent of roasting turkey barely begins to float through the kitchen.
In our pajamas, we eat cereal, cups of coffee, maybe a piece of toast. But, anticipating, we stop there.
It’s no different than any other kind of delayed gratification, just like working this week means a paycheck next or not buying yourself new clothes – not even the creamy white coat with the 3/4 sleeves – means more money in your savings account or a little extra to spend on Christmas gifts.
That’s all well and good, most years. When the turkey is a sure thing, when the stock market is strong, by all means put off pleasure. Look ahead to the later reward.
But what about when the long-term benefit seems a little, well, unsure? This year, for example, the economy is in flux. Also, I’d be responsible for getting the Thanksgiving meal on the table.
While very different situations, putting all my faith in the chances of the meal going well could be as foolish as putting all my money into one Big Company.
Always one to hedge my bets, this year I made a Thanksgiving back-up plan. Even if I burnt the turkey or the stuffing lacked flavor, at least I’d know no one went hungry.
Contrary to tradition, I’d make a breakfast tasty enough to distract my family without overstuffing them, buying me extra cooking time.
Enter pumpkin cinnamon rolls. These tender pillows can be made before you go to bed and left covered in the draft-free, unheated oven overnight.
In the morning, remove the towel to find fluffy, fat circles of dough, rich with ribbons of cinnamon, ready to be baked.
Fresh from the oven, these rolls emerge plump and golden, decorated with dark cinnamon stripes and bubbling over with browned butter.
Let them cool a bit, then top with caramel frosting, a homemade blend of butter, sugars, milk and vanilla that softens on the warm, pumpkin-colored dough and dissolves into its crust.
The entire kitchen will be aglow with warm cinnamon and yeast, drawing sleeping family members with curiosity. And be prepared: these go quickly.
I found myself, waiting on onions for the stuffing to cook, reaching for another bite of breakfast with a free hand, pulling at one end of the cinnamon roll and breaking it off into a curved, sugary piece, crystallized at the top with icing.
By the time the turkey was half-cooked, three rolls were left. By the time the turkey was done, one.
Oh, and also, that whole rule about not eating in order to have room for the meal? Total rubbish.
By the time the meal was hot, dished up and plated, we were more than ready.
Truly, this whole experience is enough to make me throw caution to the wind and insist on instant gratification in all of life or, at least, possibly, with a new pair of jeans.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.