The Smoking Thanksgiving
Change is hard especially when it comes to trying to "update" your holiday traditions
Back in early October I made a momentous announcement to my family and like any announcement that would shake my husband and children to their very core I did it over Snapchat and text. Snapchat so they would actually read it, and text to date and time stamp it in case I ever needed to do the, “I told you this back in (insert date and time here) and here’s the text to prove it.”
As I feared my family took the “big news” like huge, whining babies. When I hit send on my proclamation that Thanksgiving would be “a-changing” there was a communal freak out. I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t have included my four-point plan for a Thanksgiving refresh with bullet points in the text, but I was proud of all the work I had put into it. Not to brag, but it was PowerPoint worthy.
The problem, of course, isn’t me. It’s my family. They are very averse to any change regarding the holidays. Good Lord, they still bring up, at least a couple of times a year, the horror of the Thanksgiving of 2005. The heinous deed that was committed 13 years ago was that we went out to eat for Thanksgiving (first and last time) and it was – brace yourself for this unspeakable act – a buffet – deep breath – at a casino.
In my defense, we had just moved to Reno, Nevada and all the best restaurants were in the casinos and they advertised really scrumptious Thanksgiving menus. How was I, a recent transplant to the gambling state, to know that we would be seated in the overflow dining area situated amongst a valley of hundreds of slot machines.
This resulted in us being serenaded with the nonstop ping, ping, ping of the one arm bandits while being basted in cigarette smoke from the ardent casino patrons. The smoking was so ferocious that a nicotine cloud seemed to be lingering over the dessert section. The pumpkin pie tasted like it has been infused with tobacco juice.
I will confess it wasn’t very Martha Stewart-esque. It was more like how I would imagine Thanksgiving would be in hell, but I’m guessing there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving in hell because, you know, it’s hell. What would you even be thankful for?
This one-time misstep has resulted in my family being very anti any changes in their holiday ritual. A couple of years ago I wanted to eat Thanksgiving at 6 pm instead of our customary 2 p.m. and you would have thought I told my kids I didn’t love them anymore. The angst was real.
This year, though, I thought things might be different. After all, everyone is a whole lot older and should be able to roll with change better. I was, of course, wrong. And here’s the kicker; all I wanted to do was elevate our dining ritual. It was just a couple of tweaks like replacing the sweet potato casserole that’s more mini marshmallows than actual vegetable with a yam soufflé, and RIP’ing the canned cranberry because nothing says classic elegance like a burgundy tube of goo tatted with rings from the can it was birthed out of.
I also wanted to buy the pies. This was the one that really elicited a protest. Apparently I’m living with such devout food connoisseurs that a store-bought pie is verboten. It’s hard to explain that level of devotion to “everything should be homemade” when you know your daughter is on a first name basis with the Taco Bell drive thru employees and got "clinically depressed” when the nacho fries were no longer on the menu.
In the end I had no choice but to totally cave to their tyranny. In the spirit of family harmony and holiday traditions I’m keeping everything status quo. It’s basically self-preservation, because I don’t want to hear for the rest of my life how the turkey day of 2018 was the worst ever. I’ll reserve that distinction solely for the “Smoking Casino Thanksgiving.”