With all the rules and tips for Thanksgiving etiquette guides, I felt like something was missing. Most, if not all seemed to leave out one important factor: actually giving thanks.
Guess what…no matter how much you plan, do in advance – things are still going to go wrong. That’s life. I’m not saying pack in all in a forget it, I am just suggesting – expect it and when and if it happens roll with it.
I have had wonderful Thanksgivings and then some I pretended to be sick to get out of. I doubt most of my extended family even noticed I wasn’t there. And I was thankful for what I had – a quiet apartment all to myself, frozen egg-rolls and pumpkin pie from the grocery store (it was college). After the previous year I just could not bear another holiday season with them. I was much happier at home watching The Young Ones on TV and eating my own food. Let me put it this way – they were so elitist they refused point blank to eat “leftovers”. Leftovers were for the little people. And yes I happily took home all the Honeybaked ham and sides I could fit into my 1990 Ford Tempo GL.
In a recent interview Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa recently admitted that she stopped spending Thanksgiving in her apartment in Paris because she couldn’t find fresh cranberries in Paris. Really? I think Ms. Garten is missing the whole point of Thanksgiving: Be thankful for what you have, not complaining about what you don’t have. Actually I think Ms. Garten misses the point on a lot of things.
If you stay home and cook – be comfortable, be nice, don’t bitch too much and stay off your smart phone (or at least where people can see you’re not paying attention to them). If you go to someone’s house dress slightly nicer than normal and follow all the same rules as previously stated and be thankful whatever they serve even if you don’t like it. If you eat out at a restaurant same rules – be comfortable, be nice, don’t bitch too much and stay off your smart phone (or at least where people can see you’re not paying attention to them). Be extra nice to the wait staff and tip a little nicer than normal.
Last year we went out to eat at what I thought was a very nice semi-upscale restaurant in a very nice neighborhood. Only to find out minutes into sitting down, they had done away with the dress code. They said they needed to in the economy because they turned too many people away. So yes we had to sit there, looking slightly nicer than normal (I made an effort, as did many of the older people there) looking across the room only to see a lot of cargo shorts, flip flops and Hawaiian shirts. Yes it did dampen down the atmos but at least I didn’t have to clean up a kitchen full of dishes. Here is a hint for the men reading this: Women love a man in a nice suit, clean shaven with aftershave. They do, they really do. Not a ton of aftershave, just enough to where they have to lean closer to smell it more. I’m talking to you hipster boy, yeah you.
So basically be nice, be comfortable and be thankful. Screw all the rules and etiquette tips! For tomorrow you may get hit crossing the street and no one will care if you paired the wrong wine with the wrong cheese or gave a gift of flowers, food or wine that was frowned upon rather than the much smarter olive oil…why? No one will care, no one will remember. Just be nice and be thankful.
In closing, I must mention the many people flying this holiday season. Whatever you do keep your shoes and socks on! Do NOT clip your nails, or leave anything with bodily fluids on a food tray or anywhere else. I know flying isn’t physically comfortable – no one is comfortable on a plane! That is a fact based in the law of physics. So put on your big girl/boy panties and deal! You will be there soon. Remember this isn’t your own personal holiday – the entire nation is having a holiday. Millions of people are all traveling to another place to spend the day with people they care about. So if you bitch and moan that YOU are missing YOUR Thanksgiving, watch your back. And for Buddha’s sake don’t get up and do exercises or sleep in an isle or galley. As my childhood bus driver Mrs. Walker used to say “Keep your seat on the seat and your back on the back”. If most people had to do the job of a kick-ass Stew they would buckle and quit within minutes. They work very hard and spend almost all of their time on their feet catering to 100-300 people asking for something all at the same time. So show some respect.
There is no nicer thing a person can do but invite you into their home and give you food. In many cultures all over the world it is looked upon as an honor just treat it as such. It doesn’t matter if you are not dressed to the nines or you don’t bring the ultimate hostess gift…just don’t be a dick.