I didn’t cook Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. My husband, daughter and I went to a restaurant in Richmond Hill that offered all the traditional holiday fare at a reasonable price. It was the first time in my life I did not eat a home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving.
Of the 11 Thanksgivings that have passed since my husband and I first met and began dating, we’ve spent only one with extended family. All the others have been spent at home, just the two of us. Well, that is, until my daughter was born in 2012, and then it was the three of us.
I can’t take much time off work around Thanksgiving, so we can’t travel to see our families, both of whom live in other states. So, I’ve always cooked a huge Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings, even though we never have company. The two — now three — of us enjoy all we want and then nibble at leftovers for weeks. They often go bad before we can finish all that food, even though I cut most of the recipes in half.
I’ve never minded making such a big production out of a meal to be eaten by a few people. I felt I was keeping with tradition. This year, though, just the thought of going to all that trouble was too much for me.
Reese is just getting over an ear infection, my husband (oddly enough) is nursing a fractured tailbone, I just suffered through bronchitis and then wrapped up an enormous project at work — one that kept me at the office until 9 p.m. more than a few nights over the past two weeks — and we’re all plain exhausted.
I wanted nothing more than to spend Thursday — my lone day off work last week — relaxing and enjoying the company of my husband and daughter. I didn’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven and get started on the pies. I didn’t want to peel potatoes and spend half the day measuring, dicing, slicing, whipping, stirring, basting and grating. I didn’t want to deal with the age-old task of ensuring all the side dishes and the bird are done at the same time even though I have only one oven and everything needs to be cooked for different lengths of time at various temperatures. And I certainly didn’t want to stare wearily at a sink overflowing with dirty dishes. What I did want, though, was a delicious holiday supper.
Thankfully, we got one. Our meal was tasty, the conversation lively and the cleanup nonexistent. Although I still felt guilty for forgoing tradition, I thoroughly enjoyed the day.
We slept in (and by “in,” I mean
8 a.m., which is as late as my toddler allows), watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV while munching on homemade pumpkin bread for breakfast, talked on the phone with our families to wish them a happy holiday and then we feasted. It truly was nice.
I’m certainly not opposed to resurrecting the tradition of cooking a giant meal, but as long as it’s just the three of us, I really don’t see a reason to put so much unnecessary pressure on myself. In fact, I wish I’d come to that conclusion sooner.
The important part of the holidays is that we spend time with family, give thanks for all that we have and take advantage of the chance to decompress for a bit. I spent Thursday doing just that.
Now, if we ever host folks for Thanksgiving dinner or we’re able to make it to a relative’s house, I’ll be the first one to break out the roasting pan and the mixing bowls. I’ll happily help our host in the kitchen however I can, and I’m sure any guests we might have would do the same for me. Cooking with others is more fun and less of a chore, so I have no qualms about that. As long as I’m the sole chef, though, continuing with this new “restaurant tradition” doesn’t sound half bad.
Having worked my fair share of holidays in the past, though, I’m not oblivious to the fact those restaurant employees didn’t get to spend the whole day with their families. I’m grateful for their willingness to help make strangers’ days a little easier and tastier. I certainly hope they — and many other folks who do their jobs tirelessly on days when most workers are off — get to spend some time eating, relaxing and giving thanks with loved ones this holiday season.