The phone rang on a Friday night. It was my friend Kevin with an invitation.
“Come have Thanksgiving dinner with us this Sunday.”
This year, at Kevin and Meg’s house, Thanksgiving has already come and gone. The first week in November,they cooked and served their turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberries, corn and creamed spinach.
“Friday, I was in the grocery store,” Meg said. “I saw that turkeys were only 29 cents a pound. ‘Hey,’ I said, ‘Let’s have Thanksgiving dinner early, and invite all our friends we never see during the holidays.’”
So they got on the phone and called up all their friends.
Sunday morning they started cooking. Around 4:30, Meg realized there were a few ingredients she’d forgotten. She drove over to a gourmet food store and picked out what she needed. The clerk began wrapping each item painstakingly, as if for a fancy gift basket.
“Um, I’m going to be using those today,” Meg said.
“Today?” the clerk asked.
“Today,” Meg replied. “I’m having Thanksgiving today. My turkey is in the oven and I have people coming over at 6:30!”
By the time the guests arrived, everything was ready. The adults sipped wine and nibbled on stuffed mushrooms while the kids played in the den.
And when nine of us sat down to eat, everyone forgot about work and early meetings the next day. We ignored the nightly news and the football scores and the chores waiting to be done. Some of us had second helpings of turkey. Some ate too many pumpkin squares. No one cared if it was red wine or white wine you were supposed to serve, and we drank coffee with real cream instead of low-fat milk. It may have been an ordinary Sunday evening, but it felt as warm and festive as the real holiday.
The kitchen was a wreck. There was too much turkey left over. “You’re all taking some of this food with you,” Meg insisted.
You could argue that one Thanksgiving meal each year is enough – even too much. Too much travel, aggravation, food and family. And no one really likes turkey, I’ve heard it said. But I think Kevin and Meg are on to something: they hope this will become a new tradition.
Not everyone they invited could make it. Meg confessed that she should have planned it earlier, and given people more notice.
“I wasn’t thinking,” she said. “I just got intoxicated by that 29-cent-a-pound turkey.”