This morning, my Facebook feed blew up with talk of “the big game,” the annual Montana-Montana State football game (which is, somewhat foolishly to my way of thinking, called “The Brawl of the Wild”). While alums of both schools taunted one another, I was doing my own kind of game planning: the kind that involves grocery lists and oven temperatures. Yes, I was game planning hosting my first Thanksgiving.
Why is it that buying one particular kind of poultry feels so monumental, while poor chicken is hardly ever cause for celebration? I’m not sure, but I know that my head has been spinning this week with turkey talk: to baste or not to baste, to brine or not to brine, the stuffing debate, butter or canola oil or deep frying the thing. I even learned the meaning of the word “spatchcock.”
Thanksgiving falls so late this year that the semester is almost over. School-related stress is peaking right about now, and so taking most of the afternoon to wander around store after store buying food for eight or ten when my first Thanksgiving will include all of three people (myself included) does seem a little silly. But I’m trying to make a day of it, make Thanksgiving all about cooking and hanging out and trying to pull off something exciting (only because multi-course meals are still sort of a challenge). I think my rarely felt homesickness was in full force last Thanksgiving, so I thought this might be a year to just dive in and do things my own way. I’ve rented four Thanksgiving movies (however loosely themed: Pieces of April, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, The Ice Storm, Scent of a Woman). I made a Friendsgiving Spotify playlist. Today I bought a $10 turkey platter on sale at Target. Plain white. Simple. Something I’ll likely have forever.
And for whatever reason, perhaps partially fueled by all of the blogger Thanksgiving cooking pressure, buying a turkey and then this platter, one of those things that only adults have, made this afternoon kind of contemplative. Maybe it’s the cold weather and the low light—winter is always my best thinking time—but, I don’t know, I can’t help but project about things to come. This time next year, if all goes as planned, I’ll be working somewhere. I will have likely moved again (and will have moved this huge turkey platter!). I might be back home for Thanksgiving, or I might be hosting a Thanksgiving for one in some new place. Once again, I’ll be trying to make new friends. I’ll probably be getting to know another city all over again. School will be behind me. I’m both hesitant about things to come and impatient for those same things to start.
But Thursday will be a break from all of that. It will be a one-day production of cooking and cleaning and baking and dishwashing and setting a nice table and lighting lots of candles. The farthest ahead I’ll be thinking is about the leftovers. Thanksgiving leftovers alone are reason to celebrate.