This Thanksgiving is going to be different than any we have ever experienced. There’s no “hacking” our way around it: We are going to have to make real, substantial changes to the way we celebrate the day, and that means celebrating with far fewer friends and family members. Unless you belong to a certain family of absurd wealth, you probably do not have the resources to require everyone goes through “multiple health screens” before flying on a private jet to a private island to “pretend things are normal for a brief moment in time.”
Instead of trying to force a large (or even medium), potentially dangerous gathering, you should throw out the rulebook dictating what the holiday is “supposed” to be. Embrace the smallness of it all. Be as selfish as possible. As I mentioned during our most recent Evil Week, the pandemic can serve as a built-in excuse to not see anyone or attend anything you don’t want to. I love that, but we can push it further.
Since you’ll most likely one be celebrating with the people who already live in your household, the menu can be much smaller, and tailored to what you actually want to eat. Are you a turkey hater, like myself? Make this the year you finally roast a duck. Or abandon birds entirely and buy some really nice steaks. You know what kind of steak you can buy for the cost of a turkey? The really nice kind. You know how much charcuterie you could buy for the price of a turkey? Pounds—literally pounds. You know how much Champagne you could buy for the price of a turkey? Well, only one bottle, but it’s a bottle you don’t have to share.
The menu is yours to alter, and tradition is yours to ignore. If you’ve never cared that much about meat, focus all of your efforts on side dishes and whip up a meal of potatoes and casseroles. Or reject the entire aesthetic of Thanksgiving entirely and use the day to tackle a big cooking project that has nothing to do with with turkey or stuffing or any of that mess. Make carnitas and eat tacos. Make ramen broth from scratch. Make lasagna.
How ever you choose to spend Selfish Thanksgiving, make sure it brings you joy. Eat dinner at noon, or at two, or have tapas at 10 pm. Dress in your finest threads, or schlep around in pajamas. Blast Christmas music, or Warren Zevon, or enjoy the silence that comes with not having a lot of people in your home.
One thing you should not change, however, is the amount of pie you bake. It is impossible to have too much pie, and—after the year we’ve been through—I think every one of us deserves our own pie. In fact I demand it.