It has been ages since we spent the holiday with extended family. In recent years past we've done one of three things: a blowout home-cooked-meal (whose inverse proportion to work and enjoyment is staggering); descending on friends (the reason we have fewer and fewer), or eating out, which only the truly masochistic do on big holidays.
But this year brought some new considerations.
I've been a vegan for a year -- started just after T-Day last year -- so 1/3 of the potential meat-eaters in this family would be on the sidelines on this, the high holy day of carnivorism.
Nancy is inundated with work in which I have a supporting role, so who really has the time anyway?
And then there is the fact that the kitchen is also newly spotless, and the only way to properly show respect for this rare condition is to rope it off for at least a few days. The prospect of turning it upside down so soon for one meal seems almost too painful to contemplate.
And yet, we three all wanted to make Thanksgiving Thanksgiving.
So we hemmed and we hawed. At one point the decision was to do no cooking whatsoever and go with an unprecedented "option 4" by getting takeout -- fried chicken (in the name of everything that is holy) & Indian food. In the end, even though everyone would get his or her way, nobody liked that idea. Perhaps it sounded too much like a death rows inmate's final meal request.
This morning something clicked and we decided to cook. Got everything we needed from Whole Foods, Harvest Bread Company and Safeway in a couple of hours.
I'll be taking the lead on cooking again this year, and we will have a bird. But the secret to our success will undoubtedly be that we will be modest in our plans. No impossible recipes, not too many things to make.
With any luck, we will have achieved the balance that eludes us and, from the tales one hears, most people on this unusually stressful holiday. We will be cocooned in our own home, with a sensible amount of work to do in the kitchen, free to be ourselves. And for that I give great thanks.