What price convenience?

I recently found out that I’d be hosting Thanksgiving. My initial reaction was panic. I work a full-time job. I’ve never cooked a turkey. Thanksgiving is a big meal. My first instinct was to see about ordering parts of the meal from Wegmans. Turns out that’s what a lot of people are doing these days. Heck, apparently a lot of people order the whole meal.

The thing is…I can cook. If I say so myself, I’m a good cook. I’ve hosted dinner parties without resorting to buying the meal elsewhere. I have flambéd things (intentionally). Making stuffing does not require a degree from Culinary School. Cranberry sauce–this is why I cringe when Sandra Lee and her ilk imply that you use the canned stuff because making your own is on the same level as making pasta. It’s not. Jeez Louise, you take a cup of sugar and a cup of water. You stir till it’s dissolved. You boil the mixture. You add the cranberries and ten minutes later you have sauce. It is not rocket science.

And the turkey? My mom’s talking me through it. I can read a recipe. I can totally do this. Yeah, I’ve ordered the pie and the rolls, but the rest of my meal is being made from scratch.

Convenience is fine, but holidays aren’t supposed to be about convenience. They’re supposed to be about family–however you define family–coming together and enjoying good food and company. To my mind there should be effort behind holiday meals. Not so much effort that it drives you mad, but more effort than picking up the phone and ordering the entire meal. I’ve got my mom helping me and my best friend is also going to be pitching in. When I was little, we all did that. Even if it meant you just sat down and peeled potatoes or ran and got the good dishes. The meal meant more because it was a communal effort, because you knew that effort had been put into it. We can order takeout any day of the year. What sets Thanksgiving apart from your typical Thursday is that it’s different. It’s a feast day.

That charming article I linked up top has the grocery store rep. saying “Customers have become so busy. They don’t have the day before Thanksgiving to prepare a meal.” Yeah, they’re so busy that they take off Friday so they can get up at 4AM to hit the mall. That is what has become important. Something’s gotten very skewed in the process.

Off my soapbox now…

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