It’s a week before Thanksgiving. I point this out because, if your household is anything like mine, the gasket of your refrigerator door will be in serious danger of exploding. You’ll need a bungee cord to keep the freezer closed. You’ll have to unscrew the lightbulb to make room for one last storage container. At the very least, you’ll have to put on a Tchaikovsky playlist while putting away the leftovers, to set the right mood for the game of Fridge Tetris.
Fridge Tetris is a part of the greater discipline known as Pack Fu, or the applied science of spatial relations. The idea is to fit everything into a confined area with the maximum finesse. Done at the highest level of expertise, everything is not only stacked in the most streamlined manner, but also arranged in such a way that the things that will need to come out first are the easiest to reach. Accessibility is a key component.
Everyone in my family has highly refined Pack Fu skills. Fridge Tetris is a sort of holiday game for us. Packing up and putting away leftovers is a multi-player affair, almost as inherently fascinating as loading the truck for a camping trip. Getting everything in there without bending any shelves is cause for cheering and high fives all around. My husband’s family also places great store in Pack Fu, and it’s hard to say which of us is better at it.
There are five things you can do today to prepare for the Great Thanksgiving Weekend Fridge Tetris Championship.
I keep a roll of masking tape and some markers in the drawer closest to the fridge. I put a strip of masking tape on anything that goes in a container and write the contents and the date. This has made life SO MUCH EASIER. We virtually always eat leftovers before they spoil now. All our storage containers are from the same set, so when stuff is stacked up in the fridge, it’s like so many Legos. Which one is the cranberry sauce? Which one is the gravy? Literacy is my super power!
The main reason that we need to be so good at Fridge Tetris in my family is that we all cook like we’re getting ready to cross the continent in an oxcart. It’s routine for us to have 16 people at a casual family dinner. Sometimes it’s easier (and it’s definitely cheaper) to cook at home than to try to find a restaurant with a big enough table. Even with this crowd, there still tend to be enough leftovers for at least a second day, sometimes three. For most of our marriage, I have not only done a Thanksgiving dinner, but also hosted a party the following Saturday, and I might wind up making 20 different dishes in three days. It takes a broomstick to stuff all the leftovers in the fridge afterward. A different family might plan more sensibly and make only double the necessary amount of food, instead of triple, but where’s the fun in that?
At this time of year, it’s important to keep our priorities straight. Or should I say – PIE-orities? A table creaking under the weight of a bounteous buffet is a great way to keep everyone’s focus on eating rather than directing conversation to the most sensitive topics. Don’t irritate – masticate! Then put on “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and compete to see who gets the Fridge Tetris trophy this year.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.