Thanksgiving: so who’s cooking? Wait: ME?

Thanksgiving is the day of the year that makes me feel more like a grown-up than any other.  Every year I hoist the raw bird onto the countertop and wonder what adult is going to show up and magically make it a meal. It takes me a moment to realize, with a not-inconsiderable amount of shock, that somehow time has marched on, and I’ve become the one in charge.

I mean, it’s not that hard. “You don’t have to make the turkey,” Maggie helpfully explained to me yesterday. “People kill it, and then you get it at the store, and all you have to do is warm it up.” Why don’t you spend all the day in the kitchen ‘warming it up,’ I wanted to reply. But the truth is, that’s pretty much all there is to it, and when I plattered my first golden turkey, about five years ago, I felt like I had crossed the threshhold into adulthood at last. Then my husband got out the electric carving knife and became like, a DAD, and that was a little mindblowing I must admit.

There’s no question I have it easier than my mother did (and does- she’s making a turkey tomorrow too). My recipes are on Evernote, not on yellowing and gravy-spattered newsprint. I’ll have my iCatcher podcasts to keep me company while I stir. And– oh, yeah, I almost forgot– I’ll be buying stuffing and gravy and pumpkin pie all ready-to-go when I pick up our turkey later this morning. But the standards have gotten higher over the years too- I’m looking at you, Pinterest Real Simple Delicious Thanksgiving Recipes. You too, Thanksgiving Turkey Bento Box Kids’ Craft.

However a cook manages his or her Thanksgiving, it’s still a full day in the kitchen, sleeves up, four burners going. It’s hard work. But when I get Thanksgiving dinner with the six sides (two just for my picky eater) on the table tomorrow afternoon, I’ll feel as proud as I do when I’ve written something well. While I’ll never be a truly great cook, on Thanksgiving I get it. Cooking is a creative act, too.  You make something beautiful and delicious– even if it’s not quite Pinteresting– and with the work of your hands, you can make the people you love happy.

Are you cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year? Do you love it? Hate it? What’s your favorite make-Thanksgiving-easier tip? Please share it in the comments. (Here’s mine: make your mashed potatoes in the slow cooker.)


I loved this NPR interview with Sam Sifton, author of the new book Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well. It will make you laugh, it will help you manage your expectations. Take a listen while you chop.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Nana November 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

It’s funny, but I’m still waiting for a grownup, too. I miss Nana and Grandma especially on this holiday. I will be trying your potato tip. Love, Mom


Marie November 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm

We are newlyweds and hosting Thanksgiving for the fist time. Fortunately, my mother-in-law is taking the lead on the turkey and we have enough helping hands that I think it will all go pretty smoothly. It also helps that we have a simple menu. Still, I’m a little nervous! 🙂


Carrie's Just Mildly Medicated November 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

where is my grown-up… what do you mean I am 37???


Erica Knecht November 22, 2012 at 7:51 am

Ha! I’m visiting for the first time via Sarah @powersofmine. I can so relate to that feeling of shock upon discovering, wooden spoon mid-stir, that oh wait, I”M THE GROWN UP!!! Though I won’t be cooking thanksgiving this year (come to think of it I’ve managed to escape the duty in all my years), I totally agree that it’s gotten easier and harder because of the conveniences and the new standards we’ve set ourselves. I’ll be missing out on the pie this year though as I’m far away from home in a country that doesn’t celebrate the holiday.


Heather November 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm

I have yet to have the full responsibility of the turkey warming up business but I do understand just how weird it will be when the turkey passes onto me and becomes my responsibility.


Adventures In Babywearing November 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Oh love it. I did make the dinner this year- both sides of our families traveled to visit us and it was a really great experience (and also the largest !!!! $$$$ grocery bill I’ve ever paid omg.) But we all ate like kings and it was wonderful. Also, because my MIL was here and willing, I told her to go for it with the turkey so I got out of that this year!


Holly Rosen Fink November 30, 2012 at 6:22 am

I did not cook. We ate out…again, 2nd year in a row. And you know what? That was the last time. Next year I’m cooking. I feel satisfaction out of a well made meal, but it’s a lot of work for me and we haven’t been anyone for the last two years. It’s not fair to my kids, next year I’ll work harder. But, yes, the meal, made by someone else, was rather delicious.


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