[NOTE: This is a repeat of a post first published on Thanksgiving 2008. I'm in NY with my family this Thanksgiving.]
A few days ago I noticed a sign outside the local Burger King that said “Open on Thanksgiving.” It made me wonder just what a Thanksgiving Day gathering there might be like. But then I realized that I actually had some personal experience in this regard, many moons ago.
That was when I was in college, before fast food had taken over the world. My family lived about a thousand miles away. My freshman year I’d gone home for Thanksgiving, but it seemed I’d hardly said hello to them before I had to say turn around and say goodbye again.
So my sophomore year I decided to make life easy and stay at school for the holiday (as I recall, one of the things that sweetened the deal was that I had some sort of date planned for Saturday night. But I digress.) I was going home for Christmas in a few weeks anyway, so I figured that would be soon enough to see my parents. After all, I was hardly a baby anymore; I’d reached the outrageously autonomous and sophisticated age of eighteen.
The dorm remained open, and there were three other girls staying there for the duration, all of them from foreign countries. But on Thanksgiving Day I discovered to my surprise that the dorm kitchen was closed, and all the other girls had somewhere else to go for the big feast.
I did not. I sat in my room pondering the dilemma. I had no car. There were very few restaurants in town, and the only nearby one that was open was a greasy spoon across the street that served sandwiches and fries and burgers. To top it all off it was raining in torrents.
I waited till the evening when hunger got the better of me, and then I scooted across the street in shame to the restaurant that was empty of any other customers, ordered a double cheeseburger to go with extra ketchup and a large fries (it was, after all, Thanksgiving, time for a feast), brought it all back to my room, and ate it slowly at my desk. “Slowly” in this case might have been all of fifteen minutes.
I never again made the error of being alone on Thanksgiving. Or having a burger. Despite all sorts of menu and venue variations, the classic turkey-with-stuffing theme has always been scrupulously followed.
This year I want to express the hope that all of you had a wonderful meal with wonderful company—whatever the menu, wherever you may be.