Friday, November 24, 2006


Thanks for all the good wishes and virtual hugs sent my way for my first ever Thanksgiving alone. I especially appreciated the stories others shared of some of their observations or feelings and experiences in similar situations for whatever the reasons. Here's how my day went ....

I awoke a bit later than usual to a cloudy cool (for us) Thanksgiving day with the temperature in the 70's. I had no pre-conceived expectations about what I would feel, or experience, much less any finalized specific plans for this holiday. Depending on ones perspective I really didn't do anything this day. This was a day when I seemed to "pot around" as I sometimes characterize the mindless actions I take moving randomly from one thing to another. However, there was the restaurant adventure, but that comes later in the saga.

As I contemplated my day, I gave serious consideration to remaining in my cotton knit P.J.s, in which I would just lounge around, as I have been known to do on occasion, sometimes thinking that sooner or later I'll get dressed. My husband and I, for he had been known to do the same thing, often joked on those occasions about when we would actually get around to getting dressed, ultimately concluding at some point as the hours rolled by, that it was just too late in the day now, and no longer made sense to do so.

But, I have been a bit more cautious about allowing myself to do that since my husband died. I have been a little apprehensive that I might more easily fall into the habit of indulging myself in that manner to the extent it could be a problem. I didn't think it would be, but I am aware of the pitfalls if such behavior becomes excessive as can sometimes happen in times when we undergo major life changes.

So, I did make a conscious decision to get dressed, having concluded by then that I would go to a nearby restaurant for my Thanksgiving dinner. Just in case I might instead have wanted to order something, I had phoned them the other day to inquire as to whether or not they provided a carry-out dinner, which I was told, they did not. Probably the only restaurant of this popular franchise in our area that does not.

I then had asked did they take reservations, "No, we don't take reservations." But, "Yes, we are open for dinner but only for a few afternoon hours between 1 and 5 p.m." I decided I would simply do whatever the spirit moved me to do come turkey day, since this attempt to possibly plan ahead wasn't working and I really didn't want to bother checking further anywhere else.

On turkey day morning, having dressed, I decided to check my email for any possible information updates from my young 'uns. Well, of course, once I turn on the computer, check that email, I can't just stop there. I decided to take a quick look at other emails and then was pleasantly surprised to see comments on my blog. I thought surely everyone would be too busy for that. Well, of course, that was all the stimulation I needed to go visit some blogs, then the next thing I knew I caught myself dropping a comment here or there. Fortunately, I had earlier exercised the good sense to set my kitchen timer to remind me when that restaurant would open, just in case I lost track of time as I have been known to do, once I am in the blogosphere orbit.

The timer went off, and off I went. Imagine my surprise when I was asked at the restaurant if I had a reservation. I said, "I didn't know you offered them" ... that "I had been told you didn't." No explanation given. As I waited to be called for seating, I heard a young server call out a man's name for a "carry-out turkey dinner." Sure enough, she handed him a bag which he carried out of the restaurant.

Periodically, a slightly older but still young woman (but just about anybody is young to me any more) made the rounds checking for people who had no reservation and for their name. When she would come to me she would spontaneously say my last name before I could, then quickly add, "Yes, I know about you." H-m-m-m, I thought, what does that mean?

Despite the discrimination I felt over the reservation/carry-out contradiction, I should point out that I had a very pleasant demeanor through all this, and really had a lackadaisical attitude, like whatever happens, happens, and I just want to see how it all plays out. This kind of attitude is a luxury to be indulged only if one does not face a time crunch schedule.

Probably no more than fifteen minutes later, my name was called. As I approached the woman with whom I had signed in, I paused and quietly said that I didn't understand about the contradiction in reservations/carryout, then quickly moved on. I was seated in a booth large enough for four people. Almost immediately, I felt guilty taking up all that space with so many family groups waiting.

I glanced away from the table, gazed out through a translucent white lace curtained window at the trees whose leaves were in full fall color. Their gold and red leaves were intermittently falling while more cars entered and parked underneath their branches. Those exiting their cars were heading around the corner of the building toward the restaurant's front entrance. I was not aware of any thoughts in my mind, but suddenly I felt tears welling in my eyes. I was surprised, despite knowing this can happen at any time, though I was not consciously thinking of my husband. I patted the tears away with my tissue and began thinking about the restaurant's interior environment while looking around inside.

The waitress appeared, was pleasantly friendly with an exuberant bubbly manner. After answering her inquiry as to what beverage I might want, I mentioned my guilt about the large booth, that this was my first Thanksgiving alone. She quickly, with good intentions, stated, "Oh, you won't be alone, I'll be here with you, and I'm good company!" Well, I think she would have been, but she was so busy running from one table to the next, to the kitchen and back again, taking a photo of the family across from me for them, then later trying to pacify the young food-picky boy at that same table, she couldn't possibly have had time to socialize, nor had I expected it.

Simultaneously, at that table the mother was trying to remain composed, while the father was trying to tactfully curb some unacceptable behavior from the oldest of the three boys. I had first noticed the father in correcting mode while I was waiting to be seated when they were still in line, subsequently seated before me. I never did figure out what it was this young teenager was doing that was so objectionable. But whatever it was he was in deep do-do based on the recriminations I overheard his father directing his way.

Later one of the young sons was instructed on how important it was that he learn to speak up, as he should have done when he placed his order so that he didn't get all that now unwanted gravy over his turkey and potatoes. I became aware some time later a discussion was ensuing about relatives, including grandparents and uncles, they apparently had not seen for some years, but would be visiting at Christmas. Characteristics, manner, behaviors, likability were being discussed to familiarize the boys with those they would be meeting. The lads all seemed really well-behaved to me -- just another American family -- but a very special one to many other loved ones, somewhere.

Not too long after I received my beverage, the young woman who had first asked me if I had a reservation, suddenly appeared at my table. She leaned over in a conspiratorial manner, speaking softly to me that they didn't take reservations, nor did they provide carry-out dinners, but there had been an unexpected turn of events. I then learned she was the manager, now at wits end, that forces greater than her were prevailing in her bailiwick. She was struggling to regain control. I must have offered a sympathetic manner, perhaps that I was in a, "Please tell me more" mode. Instantly, she sat down across from me at the table. She went on to explain that some of her employees had taken it upon themselves to start taking reservations and receive take-out orders at some point.

She said she was beside herself, her whole system was in disarray, she was going crazy with this inconsistent organization. Furthermore, she would never ever again hire anyone under 30 years of age! Quite obviously, I now knew who the culprits were. I just didn't know which ones were under 30 years of age. Having relieved herself of her built-up tensions and frustrations for the time being, she hastily arose and departed down the aisle, back to her post, I presume, to face another four or five more hours of restaurant madness, as this was already taking place and they'd only been open an hour.

With all this excitement, it's rather anti-climatic to say, I enjoyed my turkey dinner with all the trimmings. I easily had left-overs of everything which delighted me. I brought them home as left-overs are among my favorites from holiday meals. I, also, brought along the dinner's piece of apple pie, which was promptly relegated to the freezer. You see, the day before Thanksgiving, I purchased a whole mince meat pie with rum sauce, only available around the holiday time. I really like this pie, as did my husband. I know it's only a glorified raisin pie, the way most make it now, but it will do.

You see, we were spoiled. When I met my husband, in addition to his jazz music avocation, he was the only non-family member partner in a small Midwestern market that sold only prime grade meats, top quality local fresh farm produce, and other top-of-the-line quality items. They made their own mince meat, with meat, as it should be. I have never ever found any other comparable mince meat, so have contented myself with what is available. But I have to tell you, my Mother made a raisin pie I really liked and these mince meat pies don't taste much different from her raisin pie. Oh, for some real mince meat, again.

Once I was back home from the restaurant, I thought another "quick" check of my email might be in order. As a relatively new computer user, less than two years, I still encounter new-to-me computer (whatever you call them) features. I received one special email -- an animated musical Thanksgiving greeting created by a British artist, Jacquie Lawson sent to me by a dear friend from whom I had not expected to hear. Then, those always welcomed, but never demanded, phone calls from my young 'uns and my one young 'uns young 'un. (Oops, that's a real tongue twister, so "Sorry 'bout that" -- remember that quoted line from the old TV series Get Smart which Don Adams was always saying?)

Well, I've digressed, then digressed from my digression, so this must be a good place to end the saga of this adventure. Interesting how much drama there can be in just ordinary day-to-day life if we just look around us and listen.


  1. You've reminded me of the year my cooking sister went to Florida for Thanksgiving, and I took my non-cooking sister to a Hometown Buffet for dinner.
    It was a surprisingly happy experience; different but good.

  2. Just think how much you eased the restaurant owner's psyche. Chalk up one more good deed!
    Cop Car

  3. Good for you!

    I don't mind going out to eat by myself - lunch time or on a rare occasion having dinner out but going out to eat alone on a holiday would be very difficult.

    I would feel more alone in a restaurant then staying home by myself.

    You are a special lady.

  4. You were brave to go out on your own, Joared, and I applaud that. It seems that you had plenty to keep your mind and eyes busy, and had leftovers to boot. That was a good day, I think.

  5. Thank you for letting us in on your holiday. I appreciate your detailing your day. I agree with Millie: I go out a lot on my own, but holidays are a whole other thing.

  6. It is always interesting to find out the "inside story" on something like the reservations/no reservations--take out/no take out front...The confiding Manager on Thanksgiving...Well, it certainly made for an interesting First-Thanksgiving-Alone..PLUS, leftovers, too! Thanks for sharing, my dear.

  7. I missed wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, and if I knew how to make a proper mince meat pie, why I would send you one immediately.

    Alas, pecan pie is the best I can offer as a substitute - oh wait, I do make a good Jeff Davis pie...

    Many many hugs to you!

  8. Joared, I loved your post, it made me quite emotional and reminded me of a restaurant outing some fifteen years ago, that I blogged about. I read on Ronni's blog that you are having Internet problems. Hope you fix them soon as I miss your posts!

  9. Your post was a good one and probably one that many can relate to who for one reason or another find themselves without friends or family on a major holiday. I always think I'd enjoy such a day but one Easter, I was almost alone (turned out I wasn't) and I realized it was not going to be as easy as I'd been thinking.

  10. I'm 'way too insecure to go to a restaurant alone ANY day. So, I'd probably just stay home and pout.