Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cheating on the Turkey

What is the point of Thanksgiving? Is it a stuck-in-there holiday to make November more bearable and give us all a long weekend? Is it to juice the travel industry? To remind us all to feel vaguely guilty about Native Americans (although not so much that it puts us off our food)?

Was it an early attempt by enviro-conscious, earnest, lefty, do-gooding, Farmer's Market types to get us all to eat seasonally and -- perhaps -- locally?

Is it a family dysfunction dress rehearsal, the main event of which is Christmas?

Is it about eating, or cooking AND eating, or cooking AND eating AND being with family?

I ask because the question arose at lunch today: Is it cheating to have Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant?

My instinct is that it is. The point of the holiday isn't to partake of cranberry sauce, which is possibly the best straight-out-of-the-can food there is, but to partake of cranberry sauce across the table from someone you might not ordinarily see or (heaven forbid) even like all that much. And somebody you know and possibly love -- not some line cook paid $5.50 an hour -- has to scrape that cranberry sauce out of the can and into a bowl. Otherwise, so help me, it just doesn't count.

My Thanksgivings, you will perhaps not be surprised to learn, have met these rabbinic requirements. There is traveling involved; there is stress; there is extended family for extended periods of time. Yes, there is turkey, though I haven't eaten it since I was 18, and seasonally-appropriate vegetables, and apple and pumpkin pies, but the point isn't the turkey. The point is the entire celebration, sun-up to sun-down, of America's favorite secular holiday, one for which, yes, we all have to sacrifice a little bit.

Am I wrong? Am I *wrong*? Or, like Walter, am I not wrong, but just an asshole?



Mike Dang said...

Ester! Thanksgiving in restaurants is totally cheating! Why do you think many of them close on Thanksgiving day? To prevent cheating, of course. The ones that stay open are like those college essay-selling sites that encourage cheating — I'm looking at you T.G.I. Friday's, and your half-price appetizers and five new wing flavors! I MEAN, how far from Thanksgiving can you get? Come over to my place and have cornbread stuffing, roasted brussels sprouts, turkey or tofurkey, and I'll even make it awkward and embarrassing for you so we can have us some real Thanksgiving.

ester said...

AMAZING. Thank you. A Chipper McCheerful Thanksgiving -- what could be better?

Please be aware, though, *I* am not considering cheating. It is not even to be thought of in my family to eat outside the homestead.