Minimal Prep for Thanksgiving
When I was a kid, holidays were a big deal. Thanksgiving meant family cramming in around the tables, buffets heaped with food, a gravy boat, homemade cranberry sauce, and patent leather shoes. I loved the running around, the jolly games, the climbing under the table, the singing around the piano, and the desserts with whipped cream out of can. Sometimes, I’d get to light the candles and I’d feel magically important.
As I aged into a teenager, it was my job to help with prep: setting tables with linen and china, buying groceries, peeling potatoes, cleaning toilets, finding hand towels, and hauling up wood for the fireplaces. Then there were dishes afterward that stretched on for hours and sometimes days. I still loved seeing my extended family, but I started resenting the work that went along with holiday celebrations. As I worried that I was fated to inherit an even heavier work load once I entered the aunt generation, I questioned whether the trappings of the traditions were worth the effort.
It turns out, I needn’t have worried. My family’s expectations for Thanksgiving are simple, and thankfully, we’ve arrived in a new age when nobody expects fancy anything. We all pitch in to make the food, we all set the table, and we all clean up. All of it is shared, and that leaves time for all of us to go for a run beforehand (yay, Manchester Road Race!) and play games around pie later in the day. We still have traditions, but they’re more about laughter and coming together, and for that, I’m grateful.