Thanksgiving: It may be time to give up the holiday platter |

Thanksgiving: It may be time to give up the holiday platter

Ask any older person. Holidays are more complicated now. Take Christmas stockings. They used to be old socks half-filled with ribbon candy, a tangerine and a piece of coal to keep you humble. Then maybe you got one present or, during the Depression, no present at all.

And there was no huge debate about where to go for the holidays. You either stayed home or went to a nearby relative’s for your turkey.

You did not fly to Denver, Boston or Miami to eat pie with your family. Your closest relatives were actually close – up the block, down the street and sometimes even in the same house.

But now, the choices provoke a seasonal nervous breakdown. Should we drive to my parents or fly to yours? What about seeing your sister? Or should we have everybody here?

But isn’t our table too small for 18 people and John doesn’t talk to Alex. Donny got divorced and everybody hates Donny’s new wife and Sam told us he won’t drive on a holiday.

And so it runs until our good intentions evaporate under the pressure.

Well, I have a solution, at least for grandparents.

Hand off the turkey platter

Give it up. There is no law that says you have to do the turkey, be the host or make everybody’s holiday dreams come true. You can give the turkey the bird.

Your descendants don’t have to come to your house for a command performance involving large stupid poultry. Instead think: over the river and through the woods to daughter’s house we go.

So consider donating the turkey platter to the next generation. Yes, long ago you and I were the ones who manufactured holiday joy by sewing up turkey bottoms and making bad gravy but we don’t have to do it anymore. We oldsters do not own the holidays.

Anyhow, it is probably easier for them to have you to their house. Then your kids don’t have to displace their kids, pack up the diaper bags or leave their daily orbits.

When I was a young woman with four kids under 6, it was hard to appease the grandparents when they lived in three households in another state and all had issued soft orders to appear on the same holiday. I try to remember those times when I find myself expecting my kids to come for a holiday audience with Queen Mother Me.

But what if the kids live far away?

Well, you can go to the airport, kick off the metal detector with your replaced hip and set the security forces in motion to pat you down for weapons of mass destruction – or you can stay home. Alone.

Well, almost alone. Though the holiday pictures in our heads involve crowds around a dinner table, imagine instead two on the floor in front of a fireplace with champagne and lobster at the ready.

Declare me a heretic, but I publicly avow that fireplace adventures for two geezers can be great fun as can spending a holiday in bed with someone who does not resemble an elf or a reindeer.

Early to bed and staying in bed – that’s my motto. Breakfast in bed, lunch in bed, dinner in bed and the first one out has to call the kids to wish them Merry Whatever.

Deciding your own holidays

Again, there is no law that you have to see the family on the actual holiday. Instead of Thanksgiving trips, it’s easier to visit another time when the weather is better and people are not in their stressed holiday mode, trying to replicate Martha Stewart’s table under watching eyes. And, instead of the December trips, try spring or summer, when the living is easy and the kids aren’t so fascinated with their new iPods that they forget to talk to you.

Revolting grannies

OK, let me put it another way. Not revolting grannies, but it may be time for grannies to revolt. Holidays have gotten too big for their britches and one little granny can’t handle it anymore. Call in the reserves – your adult kids – and let them step up to the oven.


The author of four non-fiction books, gerontologist Mel Walsh has a new book of advice for the 50+ woman coming out in March – “Hot Granny,” published by Chronicle Books. Write Mel at or at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. More info at

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