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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Too Bad, II

I'm doing something this Thanksgiving I've never done before. I'm observing it alone.

Now before you all get your knickers in a twist, let me assure you that this is not a tragedy. Nor is it a call for eleventh hour invitations. While the situation is not completely my choice, I am not unhappy with the results.

Let me explain.

For the past few years, I've celebrated Thanksgiving with a handful of friends, several of whom are part of my weekly Friday night Salon. You've all read the Tale of the Turducken. For a number of reasons, none of them good, said celebration has been cancelled this year. But for the same reasons, I didn't know it would be cancelled until a couple of weeks ago.

At first, this cancellation was not a cause for alarm. I had several other options.

There is a small family which has become part of my extended family. I spend time with them on a host of occasions throughout the year: holidays, birthdays, summer barbecues. Unfortunately, the father of one half of the couple is in poor health, and they have made plans to spend the holiday weekend with him.

I have another friend whose mother decided, once he got his own apartment, that she was done hosting Thanksgiving, and handed the reins to him. I've had Thanksgiving with them before and hoped to do so again this year. There are several attractive things about this option. The first is that it provides me with the opportunity to cook. When I join this group, I go to my friend's house the night before. Instead of just bringing a side dish, I get up in the morning and help out in the kitchen. Since I enjoy cooking – and since my turkey gravy is a wonder to behold – this is fun for me. The other benefit of visiting this friend is that I spend Thanksgiving night at his house as well, saving me the distinctly unpleasurable task of traveling on a full stomach. Or waking up from a food coma to do so.

Unfortunately, while this option is sort of available this year, it is not attractive. My friend is spending Thanksgiving with his extended family in Kankakee, a mere 70 miles from my house. If I had transportation. Since I don't, I would end up traveling the 45 miles to my friend's house by commuter rail, only to journey an additional 60 miles to Kankakee. Not gonna happen. Especially since I would not have the opportunity to help with the cooking, and I would have to travel on a full stomach, both of which obviate the very reason for wanting to spend the holiday with these people to begin with.

You see my predicament.

Thanksgiving with friends was "officially" cancelled 10 days ago. (I had a sense of its demise a week before that.) I got the news about Kankakee and my other friend's plans last Friday. This still gave me nearly a week to make other arrangements. I have family in the city and nearby suburbs, as well as other friends on whose good graces I could call. But here's the thing. For the past few years, I've been roasting a turkey this week anyway. Having Thanksgiving at a friend's house means you miss out on leftovers, arguably the best part about Thanksgiving dinner. Even if you go home with a packet of leavings, it's rarely anything substantial enough for a second meal, and sometimes not enough for a truly worthwhile sandwich. So I've taken to buying a small turkey I can roast for leftovers and stock. I make enough spiced cranberries to bring some for dinner and still have some at home. And that's a start.

This year, I'm making dinner for myself. Butternut squash soup to start. Then comes turkey, with sage stuffing (not traditional in my family) with sausage and apples, mashed sweet potatoes (a lower fat alternative) and Brussels sprouts (which only I like) roasted with shallots. I have the makings for a pumpkin pie, but I'm not a big dessert fan, so I may skip it. After dinner, I'll watch Miracle on 34th Street, which starts on Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve, or maybe the original Yours, Mine and Ours, with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball (and a young Tim Matheson) on Turner Classic Movies.

Mind you, this is not a new tradition. I'm not such a grinch that I'll want to spend every Thanksgiving alone. (Hmmm. Maybe I'll watch The Grinch on DVD.) But for this year, it's a not unpleasant notion.


  • I'm a veteran of Lone Holidays, as I call them. This is entirely by choice, since I'm basically a recluse. I recently retired so that may change my pattern. I don't have to go out into the world everyday now, which was an emotionally exhausting routine.
    Once my children were grown I pretty much lost interest in cooking and eating much. I prefer to nibble most of the time and have a nice bowl of cereal at the end of the day. For Thanksgiving and Christmas I usually roast a cornish hen to share with my tiny dog.
    It may sound like I have dull life but that is far from true. I need lots of time alone to do my art and try to keep up with domesticity. I can make really big messes while I'm working on a project! I have no one around to complain about it. I manage to get my house in order a couple of times a year, when I decide to have a party. I like to make up my own traditions.
    Indeed, most people think I'm strange but the wonderful part of getting older is that I can be my eccentric self!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:14 AM  

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