Thanksgiving Turkey, Pizza, and Arlo Guthrie

My husband’s plate, left, is the only one that actually has turkey on it. My own plate, in front, has a wonderful arrangement of our all-vegetarian side dishes. And my teenage son’s plate, right, contains pizza and a roll. A well-balanced Thanksgiving meal.

Happy Thanksgiving! We had our quiet meal at home with just the three of us, knowing it’s the safest choice in the middle of a pandemic, with cases of the virus skyrocketing around the country. But at least the food was good.

It seem so inefficient to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings for only three people (especially when two are vegetarians who don’t eat turkey and gravy, and one of the vegetarians doesn’t eat most of the side dishes either). So I ordered most of the meal from Alexandria Pastry Cafe, including some sliced turkey breast for my husband Bob. I also wanted a cherry pie, which wasn’t on Alexandria Pastry’s Thanksgiving menu, so I bought one at Atlantis, one of my go-to restaurants for the past 25 years, and that was great, too.

Jon Morgan, my 18-year-old son, coveted a chocolate cake we saw at Harris Teeter, so we bought that too. I also got him a ready-made pizza from the grocery store’s bakery section. Yes, I know pizza is not a traditional dish on the Thanksgiving table, but my son is particularly thankful for pizza, so why shouldn’t he get one? I had planned to bake one myself, but in the end I didn’t have the energy. As for why we serve pizza for Thanksgiving, I mentioned in a recent post that there was always an Italian dish or two on the Thanksgiving table when I was growing up with my big, crazy Italian family, so why shouldn’t there be pizza on my table, too?

So today wasn’t nearly as stressful as it could have been. We watched a little of the Macy’s Parade and the dog show. And then I went through my dining room and kitchen, choosing nice serving dishes for everything, heated up what needed to be heated up, and chopped up fruit for a fruit salad. My one feat of actual food creation was baking homemade rolls.

The food was terrific. All of it, including my rolls.

We put on a YouTube video that contained footage of beautiful fall scenes, each melting into the next. And we ate at the card table in the family room.

Normally we would eat on our very nice mahogany dining room table. But we are preparing for tiling the basement floor, and most of the contents of my husband’s basement office have been brought upstairs, in the first phase of emptying stuff out of the basement so the tile can be put down. And all those boxes and file drawers and furniture and assorted stacks of stuff are currently all over the dining room. But with only three of us, a card table in the family room — hidden under a presentable tablecloth — was just fine. Add a bottle of Prosecco for Bob and me, and some sparkling cider for Jon Morgan, and you’ve got an excellent Thanksgiving feast.

Afterwards, Jon Morgan retreated to his room to make a video of him playing a level of Geometry Dash. (Someday, I must write about this gaping time suck he loves so well.) And Bob and I watched a few Thanksgiving classics:

  • The Butterball Hotline scene from West Wing
  • The Turkey Drop scene from WKRP in Cincinnati
  • And the movie Alice’s Restaurant, which I had not seen in many years.

The movie was interesting. The production values don’t hold up very well, the story rambles and suffers from pacing issues, and characters suddenly appear out of nowhere with no introduction. And it’s hard not to cringe and disapprove when Arlo and his buddy find that the dump is closed and so decide it’s OK to toss their load of garbage down the side of a hill. But if you can ignore all of that, it’s still quite a fun story, with a nice sense of absurdity. And the song lyrics the movie is based on are brilliant.

My father has a similar story of his own, about a Thanksgiving Day when he was at my grandmother’s house. I don’t remember all the details; I will have to get him to tell me the whole story. He was trying to throw out the trash and couldn’t for some reason, so instead he put it in a dumpster behind a town building, maybe the town hall or fire station. Private citizens aren’t supposed to use that dumpster, and the police actually pulled out the bag of garbage, found a letter with my grandmother’s address (just like in the movie), and called her house. Afraid they wanted to arrest her, my grandmother instead threw her grown son under the bus, claiming she was innocent because, “I’m just a little old lady!”

Unlike Arlo Guthrie, my father did not go to jail and wait to be bailed out. His father had been mayor of the town for a quarter of a century, and I guess his name (which my dad shares) still carried a lot of weight. So they let him off, but I think he had to take back the garbage.

Bob is clearly excited about the prospect of eating all of this food. Because we would be eating at a small card table instead of our dining room table, we set out the food on the kitchen counter and served ourselves buffet style. And yes, that’s a pizza in the lower left corner.
Jon Morgan and I drinking a toast.

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