What are your Thanksgiving traditions? Hot cider while gathered around the fireplace? A card game with all of the cousins? Laughing at how much Uncle Steve can eat in one day? Getting shooed out of the kitchen while grandma makes her secret pumpkin pie?
Ah, yes! Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to relax with your family, enjoy a large home cooked meal, and simply be together.
The Marsh family…we used to have Thanksgiving at home too. We used to congregate at our grandparent’s house for the full day, and create memories. We would watch the Macy’s Day Parade on TV and bake pies and enjoy a carved turkey at the dining room table. And even though no one in our family has much culinary talent (see, Dad, I told you I would put it nicely), we still all tried our best (with a little help from Stove Top)(and Campbell’s)(and Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes).
Then came Thanksgiving 2003.
We were all sitting in the living room chatting and laughing and catching up, when someone noticed smoke filling the room.
We ventured into the kitchen, where my grandma’s famous (three ingredients, all from a can) green bean casserole sat charred front and center of the oven. After some damage control, fire extinguisher action, tears, and jokes, the incident was lain to rest and we somehow made it through Thanksgiving without the famous green bean casserole (that everyone fed to the dog anyway) we had come to expect.
I refer to this year as The Year the Cooking Stopped.
Every Thanksgiving from then on out my grandma had a new secret recipe, and its name was Ukrop’s take-out.
Each year after that, we had our annual White House rolls, mass-produced cornbread stuffing, and rainbow cookies.
This went on for a little while. Every Thanksgiving I would browse social media and see all of my friends’ pictures: tables and plates piled high with homemade Fall time comfort foods. To which I would look down on my plate and see things like this:
Then came 2013, the year I refer to as The Year the Grocery Store Thanksgiving Stopped.
We made a difficult decision. We felt that takeout had run its course, and home cooked meals were an option we had all long given up on. We decided…to not celebrate Thanksgiving at home anymore at all.
But instead, we picked up the phone and made reservations.
No dishes, no grocery shopping, no slaving over a hot stove, no almost-house-fires.
No cozy feelings.
No post-meal naps.
No teasing Uncle Steve about going back for his typical third piece of pie.
Just a plate of whatever’s on the prix-fixe Thanksgiving Day menu. Conversation punctuated by water and bread basket refills. Tearing employees away from their families on Thanksgiving so that they can serve us.
But if I can catch the table at just the right time, with all of the servers and hosts and table tents out of the picture, I can almost convince people that we cooked at home this year.