To Cook or Not to Cook: That is the Question

In preparing for Thankgoodnessforelasticpants Day (otherwise known as Thanksgiving), I’m struck by how much more prevalent takeout has become. Back in the day, everything was made at home, from scratch.  My grandmother would wake up at 4:00 AM to get the turkey ready for its full day of baking and basting (at least I was told she got up at 4:00 AM – I was also told that as a boy my grandfather would go to the movies with a friend and both could get in for a nickel, so who knows that’s true).  We’d smell the turkey and stuffing baking all day and come mid-afternoon my grandpa would break out the electric carving knife and go to town.  Today however, not so much.

As baby boomers age and younger families have two working parents and 2.1 kids, people don’t have the time, energy or inclination to cook like they used to.  It starts out innocently enough – one year we just take the edge off cooking by getting the cranberry sauce from a local gourmet market.  No big deal as no one really eats it anyway, right?  Then, since that went so well, the next year we maybe try it with the mashed potatoes or worse yet, the stuffing!  Turns out, it’s not bad – not great, but considering we didn’t have to make it ourselves – not bad.  So, now is when we get cocky and go for the turkey.  Rather than an hour of prep and many hours of baking and basting, we buy a pre-cooked bird and reheat for an hour or so.  A little dry?  Maybe, but it was fast and easy. So, we’ve traded tradition and the joy of cooking for convenience and more free time to spend with family.  Is the trade worth it? I guess it depends on how much you enjoy time with your family.

I think there is something to be said for not depriving our future generations of the joy of smelling a turkey baking all day. Opening a plastic container and transferring pre-made food to a serving platter just ain’t the same.  I admit to heeding the call of the Turkey Day takeout temptress myself once or twice, but now that I have a son, I want him to know what it’s like to sit and wait all day, hunger pangs and all, while we prep and cook and wait and wait and wait and carve and serve and finally eat and eat and eat and eat. Then, just when we can’t possibly take another bite, it’s time for pie (homemade, of course).

Happy Thanksgiving.