This year, I read several more articles and blogs from writers insisting that the meal served on Thanksgiving day is “Thanksgiving Dinner.” I don’t call it that. Many people do, but I don’t, and nor do quite a lot of other people. Perhaps I’m out of the loop with most Americans, but almost no one I know serves the Thanksgiving meal late in the afternoon and anything after 6 p.m. would seem barbaric to most of my world.
If I’m inviting someone to eat the meal with me, I would say “Would you like to come over for Thanksgiving?” After the initial question, there might be follow ups to nail down the exact time frame. I don’t need to add the word “dinner” to my invitation to make it understandable. Regardless, there is too much confusion resulting from the words “dinner” and “supper” being used interchangeably, when they shouldn’t be.
(“Dinner” is earlier in the day and “supper” is always later, regardless of time frame.)
In times past, ‘dinner’ was served around 1 and 2 p.m. As technology and industrialization progressed, dinner crept up into the afternoon. With commercialization and sports becoming intertwined with the eating traditions on Thanksgiving, the reality is that most people wouldn’t dream of waiting late into the afternoon to have the holiday meal. But, there are purists, East Coast residents, and wealthy people who would eat later, even though they are going to be snacking nonstop up until the holiday meal commences.
If someone were to offer for me to eat Thanksgiving with them at 6 p.m. I would certainly think it to be a joke when first uttered. I might accept the offer but there is no way I would wait until that late to celebrate the holiday meal. You would catch me 5-6 hours earlier, eating cranberry sauce from a can if necessary.
But while I’m writing this lazy post about eating, I’ve never enjoyed the labor-intensive part of this holiday. Sure, turkey breast is great. But to have 19 sides items, 7 desserts and 3 types of bread? Someone is working too hard. Invariably, the person doing too much work will be very irritated after the fact.
Despite tradition, the meal should be about companionship and company, not so much about the food. People today use the holiday as a reason to watch football, socialize and be around other people. And that’s a good thing. Trying to force a ritual of “gratitude” on top of the day is just foolish. Let family and friends get together and enjoy themselves. (And maybe even the in-laws.)
Personally, I would rather eat spaghetti, pizza or even finger foods all day than concern myself with a traditional meal. For those who insist on tradition, that is certainly their right. I’ve just found that the traditionalists many times steal the ‘fun’ and spontaneity that is possible with holidays. I get tired trying to get people to do it differently, even once, to see that it’s not necessary to kill a large bird and cook 22 other dishes to accompany its sacrifice.