This coming Thursday, November 22, will be Thanksgiving Day. It is also my 42nd birthday. As a birthday wish, I have a simple request. If you can, prepare thanksgiving dinner at home. It isn’t hard to roast a turkey, make bread stuffing, and candy sweet potatoes. Pumpkin pie is a bit of a trick, but everyone knows a baker who can give him or her some tips. It is, believe it or not, all about the journey and not so much about creating a slick advertisement for a big box retail sale.
For years as a single dad, I bought the boxed dinner from my local grocery. I’m a closet sentimentalist and I wanted to have a holiday dinner with my daughter Katie like the ones I remembered from my childhood, first with mom and dad and then with my favorite great-aunt and uncle and my nine second cousins and their various progeny.
When I met and married my much beloved Paula, we started moving toward breaking out of the box and making more of the dinner from scratch. Cost wise, my lovely CPA souse points out that for the same expense you get more dinner for your money making it from scratch. It does however require connection, communication, and using all those fancy kitchen gadgets people who pretend to know you have been giving you for years.
What do you mean that in the modern age that you don’t have time? Well you might just be required to get off Facebook at a decent time and get some sleep. Get up early, prep all your ingredients, and put it together. Or schedule a day off on Wednesday and do your prep, this will give you time to haunt relatives and food websites for recipes. If you are not a cook it will also give you time to find your way.
People who are trying to sell you something spread the great delusion that you don’t have time to prepare Thanksgiving Dinner. In truth, if you write down a menu, can multi task for one day, give or take direction, and both read and listen, you can prepare thanksgiving dinner in the same amount of time it takes to get everyone ready, travel to a decent restaurant, wait to be seated, order, wait for the food to arrive, complain, await correction, eat, have dessert, and return home. You will also save money, gas, time, and you will have enough leftovers to safely avoid cooking for a few days after.
When you sit down to dinner, compliment the cook. If you were the cook, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. Show some initiative, take the hands of the people near you, and be sure the rest do the same. Say a prayer of Thanksgiving to whomever’s name you use when you swear, (don’t stop reading to address your religious hang up, this country’s headed to hell on a handcart. The least any citizen can do is make a unified pause to acknowledge something greater that I, I, me, me.) Shoot the complainer in your family an elbow while passing the mashed potatoes to silence any unthankful attitudes. There are few culinary problems that cannot be cured with gravy, and if you can’t say anything nice, eat in silence.
After the big feed, napping in front of a football game is customary. Search the idiot box for a season appropriate movie if you like, though I hope you have better luck than I do. Modern media has just about wiped out any trace of pilgrims and mayflowers, unless they’re announcing an unbelievable sale on some widget your kids won’t like anyway.
Finally, after you’ve eaten your fill and everyone has napped. Talk to each other about good things. Put the current stresses away for a while and simply enjoy the gifts in your life. Don’t go tearing out of the house to get to the tacky sale at Super Junk Store. If these mega marts would lose money when they had their bad-taste-athon super sale on a holiday when our nation should be setting aside wants of excess and reflecting on what they have then maybe they would stop trying to program us. I’m not so backward that I don’t understand the need to be able to get necessities, but at 10:45pm on Thanksgiving Day, a $35.00 Blu-Ray player is an enticement. And, stop referring to my beloved Turkey Day as Black Thursday.
Jim Layne is husband, father and veteran. He firmly believes in God and family first, Duty, Honor, Courage and a lot of other old fahioned ideals. A self confessed news junky, he distills the rhetoric down to its essential salts and serves it up in plain spoken terms.