For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to skip town for Thanksgiving. I don’t know where the urge came from. I like my family, and I like Andy’s family. Something about Thanksgiving makes me itch for freedom, though. When I shared my dream with Andy, he concurred, and it became our dream. Every Thanksgiving morning, we would talk about our dream while we made green bean casserole (it is, after all, one of my favorite foods), and then we would talk about it some more while we drove from my grandmother’s house to his parents’ house to eat our second giant meal in five hours. It was the same every year, with the exception of the Thanksgiving two years ago when we drank too much at the Dash In the night before and were hungover on Thursday morning and the Thanksgiving four years ago when we both got the stomach flu.
Thanksgiving had become predictable. It was in a rut. It needed a change of scenery.
When Sachen died, we knew we were free to do more traveling, but it has taken us awhile to let ourselves take advantage of that freedom. When I turned thirty-two in August, I decided that thirty-two would be my year of traveling. I went to Texas with my mom and my sister at the end of August. We went to Chicago to see Radiolab in October. And last weekend, we went to Virginia for Thanksgiving.
It was everything we dreamed it would be. I called it Alt Thanksgiving. The whole time, I felt like I was getting away with something.
We slept in on Thanksgiving and then went to a movie. When we normally would have been making green bean casserole and lamenting our fate, we were instead drinking cider and eating queso at the Alamo Drafthouse. That evening, we drove to a country inn and restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. We ate the traditional turkey, yams, stuffing, potatoes, and squash casserole (I did miss the green beans), but in a new setting, prepared by strangers who cook for a living, everything tasted like heaven. The meal also included some dishes I’d never had like sun choke soup with walnut pesto (incredible!) and wild mushroom strudel, which was also delicious despite how gross mushrooms are.
We slept in again on Friday and then we had sushi for breakfast. Vacation is the best, in case you didn’t know. After sushi, we wandered around Old Town Winchester. It was the most relaxing Black Friday shopping in history. There was a corgi at the liquor store and a pair of hilarious sisters working at the book store. We had some work to do on Friday afternoon, but we found a coffee shop and got it done without losing our vacation joie de vivre. On Friday night, we ate (and drank) at my friend Liz’s restaurant, eM. I highly recommend having friends who run restaurants.
We left early Saturday morning to make it to my uncle’s in Waterville, Ohio for what is usually our third family Thanksgiving. We lost the “alt” part of Thanksgiving, but it was good to see family that we only see on Thanksgiving. Maybe that’s the point. We live in our hometown where most of our families still live. Thanksgiving is a special time for us to get together, but the truth is that we can and do get together a lot. Thanksgiving adds an unnecessary level of stress to what otherwise could be normal family gatherings.
I can’t recommend Alt Thanksgiving enough. It was a perfect mini-vacation here at the beginning of this stressful holiday season (and by “holiday,” I of course mean “finals”). It’s important to have partners who share your dreams, especially if your dreams are a little controversial. My next Thanksgiving-related dream is to eat pizza instead of turkey, like the Quartermaines do. I hope Andy is down for it.