November 25th, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

[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.


21 Responses to “Happy Thanksgiving!”

  1. daved Says:

    Are you sure they’re open for dinner though? The local McDonald’s here is open but they’re only doing breakfast and closing early. (I guess they figure if you’re going to go nuts making T-Day dinner you might want to not make breakfast.)

  2. F Says:

    Having lived overseas more than a quarter century I’ve either gone without Thanksgiving or been responsible myself for creating the festivity of this season in several locations. When I worked for the USG I had occasion to host the entire American community several times, including embassy staff and the 50 or so American missionaries resident in the Central African Republic twice.

    There were memorably humorous moments to all of this, perhaps the most being an American community family in Nigeria whose keeper-of-the-hearth spent weeks prior to the event trying to find a turkey. Having explained several times to her local meat vendor what a turkey was (“large black bird”) and finally receiving a look of astonished understanding, she ordered a large bird for her meal. The vendor arrived with a large, but somewhat scrawny bird, on wednesday and she spent the day preparing and stuffing it, then cooked it hours and hours trying to make it tender. The family finally ate some canned product while she vowed to find out from her vendor where he had found the turkey.

    He was happy to tell her about his discovery when she queried him where the bird had come from. Not far from the capital city was a large dump with flocks of vultures and he was delighted to learn Americans would pay a premium for the ugly birds, dead and plucked!

    So give a word of thanks, Neo readers, that you know where your turkey comes from and that the carving knife will open it up for your delectation!


  3. br549 Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

  4. Tom Grey Says:

    As an ex-pat in Slovakia, I’ve been to a few nice Ambassador dinners, more American Chamber of Commerce feasts, but this year we’re reconstructing our flat.
    With some illness.

    So I was actually quite happy to have thick, juicy, hamburgers. Usually I prefer goose — it’s a traditional feast bird here, and great for company celebrations and family gatherings. I far prefer goose to any turkey I’ve had.

    We have learned to make pumpkin pie, from scratch, boiling the pumpkin, adding the spices. They don’t have pie in Slovakia, either. Cakes, strudels, not pie. It’s coming slowly.

  5. Doom Says:

    You too. Happy Thanksgiving. It might be just me and the cats, but we are good. I hope you have something good going where the turkey is served, though only on the plate. Then again, I suppose even the turkeys we are related to deserve to eat (in the hopes they learn to bite their tongues?). Bah! *grins*

  6. House of Eratosthenes Says:

    [...] Neo-Neocon. [...]

  7. Cubz_Fan Says:

    Back at you New-New

  8. Oldflyer Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Neo and to all of your merry followers.

  9. SteveH Says:

    God i ate too much. Lol

  10. SteveH Says:

    And Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  11. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Happy thanksgivin’ from out here on the prairie!

    I have to congratulate myself, I did my own cooking since the family is back east, and having eaten what I cooked I can boost that I am still alive.

    However if this turns out to be my last post you’ll know what happened.

  12. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    Different strokes, I suppose…

    See Thanksgiving pizza…

    Meaning, “Don’t cry for me, turkey lovers”, ’cause I’ll be just fine. :-)

  13. T Says:


    With my best wishes to you and to all of the readers here as we celebrate the best holiday of our culture.

    Enjoy tour family, enjoy your friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Kurt Says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! This year, it was just me and the dogs, so I decided to experiment and to try a Thanksgiving-themed menu that was easier than a traditional dinner. Instead of roast turkey, I had broiled turkey burgers, but I still had cranberries and sweet potatoes and various other items. It was more work than I anticipated when I came up with the plan, but the results were very good, and I will have to keep the menu in mind for future entertaining I might do.

  15. Beverly Says:

    Oh, that sounded dismal, Neo! Been there.

    This may cheer up any dejected ones out there. A good and funny story from the front, in 1944, by a war veteran named John. It all began when Gen. Eisenhower decided that All our boys in battle must have a turkey for Thanksgiving.

    Watch the video and enjoy.

  16. Barb the Evil Genius Says:

    We had a Christmas lunch at a friend’s house a few years ago, but felt a little peckish by the time we headed home, so we stopped at the only place that was open–a Chinese take-out. Kind of felt like we were in the movie A Christmas Story, only no scary bird.

  17. Paul_In_Houston Says:

    Hi Barb:

    Been there, done that.

    Absolutely love that movie.

    Can you believe that it was done by the same guy (Bob Clark) that directed those “Porky’s” movies?

    (He also did an excellent, if dark, Sherlock Holmes movie, “Murder by Decree”, with Christopher Plummer and James Mason as Holmes and Watson, respectively)

    FYI :-)

  18. Marine's Mom Says:

    I like the sound of that Sherlock Holmes movie!
    Being not-American by origin, I tend to try to buck the system at times. One year, I decreed that I was sick of cooking gigantic old turkeys and we would have a ham instead.
    So we did.
    I was told by the kids that I shouldn’t do it again.
    So I haven’t.
    But this year, I finally got to pass off the bird; my s-i-l smoked one on his Traeger and it was delicious.

  19. Barb the Evil Genius Says:

    Paul, I haven’t seen any other of his movies. But living in the Cleveland area, there is a great local fondness for A Christmas Story. My pastor and his son had little parts during the parade scene. I like Sherlock Holmes, so maybe I should check that one out.

    Marine’s Mom, my sister-in-law very kindly included ham on the Thanksgiving menu this year, since I like it better than turkey.

  20. waltj Says:

    As a lifelong bachelor who has lived outside the U.S. for much of his adult life, holidays spent alone (except for my cats; thanks, guys) become a fact of life after a while. Doesn’t mean I don’t get a bit wistful about my childhood back in the Midwest, where big family Thanksgiving dinners were the norm. But you get used to it, and what the hell, it’s the life I’ve chosen for myself, and there are other compensations, so I won’t whine about it. Fortunately, the expat community in my current location does a pretty good job of taking care of its “orphans” like me, and ensuring that we have someplace homey to go to for Thanksgiving dinner, if we so choose. Some of the better hotels also offer traditional T-Day dinners (even if some of the details are often a bit off-base). Beats spending the holiday with some floozy from Blok M, Soi Cowboy, or Ilongapo, like some of my friends have done over the years, or getting plastered with the Aussies, as I have done on occasion.

  21. Paul_In_Houston Says:


    Be warned: Those “Porky’s” movies are raunchy films about sex-obsessed teenagers. That’s why I was astonished to see “A Christmas Story” from him.

    The Holmes movie is a bit grim, but extremely well done. I like Plummer, and will watch just about anything with James Mason in it.

    FWIW – :-)

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.


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