I cook just about every day, so cooking on a holiday isn't really much of a thrill. I realize that for many, it's more about having a crowd of people over and getting the meal together, which is as much a part of the event as sitting at the table and sharing food.
For us, a small gathering of five, Thanksgiving is more about a day free of work, free of chores, free of outside obligations that get in the way of doing nothing.
There will be football, Netflix, and potato chips and dip. I'll put the chips in a bowl, because it's a holiday.
For the main course, we'll have Boston Market. Turkey, potatoes, gravy, mac & cheese, stuffing, cornbread and something green. The beans are good.
I do cook one thing: a steak. I do this for my son who has celiac disease and does not eat anything Thanksgiving.
What about Tradition?
My mother's ghost makes an appearance as I write this. She scolds me for not making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, believing as she did that without traditions, civilization as we know it will fall. I disagree. I believe that depending on tradition to carry the weight of human behavior is an unrealistic expectation.
The thought of womankind trapped in the kitchen with big bird and his entourage makes it difficult for me to honor tradition inherent to the holiday. Someone has to cook, though, and while a number of men may now participate in the culinary rituals, I'm pretty sure it's still mostly women.
The commercially prepared Thanksgiving Feast has set this woman free for the holidays. I no longer labor under the illusion that spending my day off making a ridiculous amount of food for a 20-minute nosh makes me a better person. It just makes me tired.
What about Modernism?
A new paradigm is often perceived as a threat, or at least a disruption. Further, it calls into question the validity of the tradition. Turkey, for example, wasn't part of Thanksgiving dinner until late 19th century. Before that, there hadn't been much in the way of traditional foods except the meal would be seasonal. For many, this meant wild game, fish, and hearty root vegetables.
So when Turkey came round to make itself the center of attention, I'd bet someone said, "Turkey for Thanksgiving? No thanks, I'll stick to my venison."
The traditional cooking rituals that have accompanied the holiday for decades are still celebrated, and will be for decades to come. I, on the other hand, choose to take on a new tradition, one that honors the custom of turkey and sides while giving me equal rights to enjoy this holiday. I'm going to let someone else do the cooking, and they in turn are duly compensated in accordance to their contracts with their employer. Could anything be more American?
And that's holiday cooking in the 21st century.