This Year, Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Safely Alone While Watching Questionable TV

Media/Entertainment

Doing nothing for Thanksgiving is my own personal tradition, which I maintained for most of my adult life before I got married and was legally bound to put up with people. This year, the ethical and responsible choice is to avoid a large social gathering with people outside your household. It's like Christmas came early.

I'm going to share some of my favorite ways to observe Thanksgiving. You are welcome to participate before eating alone in front of the television, as God intended and your racist relatives make preferable.

When I'd go home from college, my mother and I would enjoy watching the annual Turkey Day marathons of "Mystery Science Theater." You don't need to reproduce the whole 15-episode experience from 30 years ago but help yourself to a few cinematic turkeys online.


The Thanksgiving episodes of Friends were lots of fun and usually not potential superspreader events (the six guests were all within the same “bubble"). My personal favorite is from 1999 when Rachel fucks up and makes some unholy combination of an English trifle (ladyfingers, jam, custard, raspberries) and a shepherd's pie (beef sautéed with peas and onions). All those ingredients are delicious, so I personally agree with Joey: “What's not to like? Custard: Good. Jam: Good. Meat: GOOD."

When I moved to New York in 1996, one of my first jobs, which helped subsidize my internship at Spy magazine, was working front of house at the Marquis Theater, where the Broadway adaptation of Victor/Victoria with Julie Andrews was running. I saw the show eight times a week, and unlike my boss, who still has nightmares, I loved every minute. I even planned on spending my first day off in months watching the 1982 movie version in my tiny Upper West Side apartment. It's just that good. Or I was just that weird. It's a thin line.

I didn't wind up spending the holiday alone as planned, though, because my friend Renee crashed at my place after her father threw her out. That sounds terrible, but I should clarify that some woman he met on the really creepy 1990s Internet was staying with him over the long weekend and he didn't want his daughter cramping his style. No, wait, it's even worse when you explain it.

When something this awful happens to your friend, the only human response is “Do you enjoy Blake Edwards movies starring Julie Andrews, Robert Preston, and Lesley Ann Warren? If so, can you also bring beer?"

This is one of those weird New York stories that's hard to believe, but my next-door neighbor for a while was Francois Clemmons, who most people know as Officer Clemmons on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." He's a lovely man and was appalled when he learned that Renee and I were going to order pizza on Thanksgiving. He insisted that we come over to his place for a wonderful spread and sent us home with days-worth of leftovers. He was similarly generous every year I lived in that apartment.

The best holidays are about kindness not ceremony. That's the tradition that should endure. This year, the greatest kindness we can show is to enjoy a low-key Thanksgiving. Next year, you can draw the short straw and cook the tasteless dish designed to accommodate vegan or gluten-free relatives. This year, you're on your own, and that's just fine.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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