My book club's monthly meet-up is winding down. We've finished parsing all the meaning we can out of Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra. We're picking at dessert when the discussion devolves into the personal. Are your kids coming to your house for Thanksgiving dinner?
We are all women of a certain age--an age when our kids are in their 30s and 40s and have kids of their own. What struck me as various book-clubbers coughed up their plans was how few of us are still making The Dinner. Not that we're not up to it. Nancy's son has really gotten into cooking. He's coming to her house with his family--she has the Big House--but he's manning the oven and burners for the family, which includes his two siblings, their kids, his kids and his parents. Nancy says she'll stack the dishwasher.
Elaine says her son, who lives in city that's a 4-hour drive away, usually comes home with his family but this year he's got a neck injury. So she and her husband will travel to his house. When she asks what she can make, what she can bring, he says he doesn't need anything. The meal will be a less ambitious one than Elaine usually cooks. Her son says he can handle the dinner preparations; after all, there will only be seven of them. Even the offer of baking a pie or a cake is turned down. It is going to be a leaner meal, not a Big Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner.
Ann says she gave up the ghost several years ago. Her daughter-in-law loves to cook, has tried her hand at several cooking schools. She doesn't like her mother-in-law or anyone else to step into the kitchen while she's at work. Since the results are excellent, Ann happily acquiesces. She'd agree even if the food were so-so. She never liked cooking. She pitches in with the clean up--as do her two other children and their children--but it's not her home so it's much easier on her.
My tale is more complicated. I love making Thanksgiving dinner. I love having the turkey leftovers to fiddle with. I love picking meat off the carcass the day after. But three years ago, Uber son and his wife had a third child, and it got complicated for five of them to get on an airplane and come to our house, when two of us could fly to them. And, since Alpha daughter was within a 3-hour drive of her brother but flying distance of us, it made even more sense: air fare for eight vs airfare for two. A no-brainer. Everyone prefers the arrangement, except for Paterfamilias. He wants everyone to come to his home for the holidays. He likes the idea of it: His home and everyone he loves in it. He made his case for Thanksgiving at Our House when we were visiting Uber son a few weeks ago. He was swayed only when our son, who travels a lot for his job, said with an enormous sigh, "I would pay not to have to get on a plane."
Case closed. Thanksgiving dinner at Uber son's house it is. I'm allowed to bake and bring and arrive a few days ahead to help with the shopping and cooking. But I don't get to take home the carcass. It will have been turned into soup and sipped up before we head for home.