A New Twist on Thanksgiving

Photo: Judy Berna

One of my favorite parts of living near my in-laws was holiday meals. My mother-in-law loves to cook, and is very good at it. We showed up, bringing our store bought drinks and maybe a few packages of holiday themed napkins, and by the end of the day we’d feasted on a whole spread of amazing food.

Our last Thanksgiving in New York, last year, we couldn’t make it to New Hampshire to join the family gathering. Work duties kept us home and I quickly realized that meant I was responsible for the holiday meal. I shouldn’t have worried. A few weeks before Thanksgiving I got a call from my mother in law, saying she wanted to give us a gift. Since she couldn’t cook our meal for us, she wanted to buy us a basic meal package from the local grocery store.

My birthday is the week of Thanksgiving, as is our anniversary, so she said she’d consider it a birthday/anniversary present. She knows how much I hate being in the kitchen and this gift meant more to me than anything that could come in a brightly wrapped box.

Thanksgiving morning we drove to the local grocery store and picked up our box of goodies. It contained all the basics that we needed to call it a real Thanksgiving. There was a perfectly roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, and even a pie. I transferred all the food to our own dishes and laid out the meal buffet style.

We had a fabulous meal and I spent my morning watching the parades on TV, not slaving over a stove and worrying if the turkey had thawed enough before I put it in the oven. There was no huge bird taking up space in my fridge for days before the big day. There was no waiting in line at the grocery store, with a cart full of ingredients to make the massive meal.

Photo: Judy Berna

And the most surprising part was the cost of our blessing in a box. The total of the pre-packaged meal ended up being less than that cart full of groceries it would take to replicate that meal. I told all my friends at work about it (mostly moms themselves) and they all agreed they were going to consider giving themselves that gift the next time a holiday meal rolled around.

This year I was thrilled to get the same phone call from my mother in law. We are now two thousand miles away, living in our temporary condo in Colorado, while we wait for our house in New York to sell. When my mother in law suggested she give us the same “gift” as last year, I was ecstatic. This year I’m operating out of a tiny kitchen in a tiny condo and it will be enough of a trick just to get us all to fit around the dining room table at once. It’s a dream, that I don’t have to worry about coming up with an elaborate meal.

It means I get to spend time with my college son, who will be home for only three days. The last time I saw him was in August, as we dropped him off at his dorm. I can’t wait to have time to just hang out with him, make cookies for him (and his brothers) and spend my time hearing stories about his first three months in college.

Photo: Judy Berna

I appreciate the fact that many of my mom friends enjoy creating yummy holiday meals for their families. I am in awe of how they can get it all done and still have a smile on their face as they serve up the hot turkey and gravy. But I’m not one of them. I’d rather spend my time driving around our new hometown, introducing our far away son to his new home state. My mother in law gets huge points for coming through once again, and giving me the perfect gift, this joyful holiday season.

There are national companies who will deliver a meal to your doorstep, like DineWise.com, but the delivery fees can be pretty steep. Kansas City Steak Company also delivers turkey dinners, and their shipping is just $4.95, but their food is a bit pricey. We ordered our meals from the deli of our local grocery store, which makes picking it up easier (and cheaper!) and supports local businesses in our community.

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2 thoughts on “A New Twist on Thanksgiving

  1. Awesome awesome awesome!!!! I think it’s a great idea — and perfect for those Geek Moms who would rather be analyzing their holiday lighting setup than slaving in the kitchen!

  2. I grew up going out to Thanksgiving dinner and typically to the movies afterwards. My dad was in the Navy, so we lived far from extended family and often Dad was out to sea over the holiday leaving just Mom, my brother and I. The tradition has died now. My parents spend the major holidays with my brother’s in-laws. I’ve lived far away for over a decade, first celebrating with my ex-in-laws (typically a large group), then just the ex husband and I (I always thought it was stupid to cook a whole turkey and fixings for TWO people) and tomorrow will be my second year with my boyfriend’s family (his parents and brother). Certainly my Thanksgivings as an adult have been more traditional, but I don’t think I blame Mom for not cooking especially those years my brother ordered a hamburger, plain and added copious amounts of ketchup.

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