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Thanksgiving is for your other family

OPINION

(Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune…)
November 20, 2013|By Annie Reed, @annie_e_313 | For RedEye

If you're a transplant like me, you simply cannot make it home to spend all the holidays with the fam. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If it boils down to Thanksgiving or Christmas, many of us will choose to head home for the latter.

This does not mean you should spend Thanksgiving alone. Au contraire, Thanksgiving is the time to get together with your urban family ... and get rip-roaring drunk. In my urban family, this tradition has come to be known as Wine Teeth. It started seven years ago, with a dialogue that went something like this:

Me: Hey dude, are you going home for Thanksgiving?

Will (who at the time was my new best friend who also had attended French culinary school): No.

Me: Oh, me neither.

(Long Pause)

Me: Maybe we should cook Thanksgiving dinner or something?

Will: And by "we" you mostly mean me, right?

Me: Yes. Yes, that's correct.

Will: OK, good plan.

What began as a vague plot to cook a traditional Thanksgiving meal turned into an epic, three-day [bleep]show of a lifetime, and it's a recipe for revelry that I'd like to pass on today. Here are the basic ingredients:

1. Go out for Black Wednesday (and bring someone home)

My urban family typically does a pub crawl. When I say "bring someone home," I mean invite as many people you meet at the bar as possible. Our rule is that every year we have to have at least one completely random guest we met the night before.

2. Throw a slumber party

If you did Step 1 correctly, all your friends should have crashed at your place. This is ideal because brunch on Thanksgiving morning is imperative. Rouse your houseguests with bloodies, mimosas and egg sandwiches before you put them to work in the kitchen. If they complain of hangovers, remind them to be thankful for your hospitality.

3. Buy food

If you forgot to grocery shop, it's not a big deal. It turns out most major grocery stores are open on Thanksgiving. And better yet, all the annoying people who flocked to the store in the days leading up to Thanksgiving causing the massive lines and headaches are home with their families. You have the store to yourself!

4. Flip the bird

Cooking a turkey might sound daunting if you have never done it before, but it's actually fairly hard to screw up if you follow the directions on the packaging, like preheating the oven, setting a timer and checking the temperature. My best advice is just to make sure your guests are really drunk and hungry before serving the meal.

5. Keep the wine flowing

Like Fight Club, the No. 1 rule of Wine Teeth is Don't Run Out of Wine. The smart host serves the best wine first and the Two Buck Chuck later in the evening. Speaking of, Trader Joe's is closed on Thanksgiving, so if there is any amount of foresight going into your gathering, I recommend it being a Wednesday night pit stop for some good ol' Charles Shaw.

6. Friday movie marathon

The first year of Wine Teeth, I had to work on Friday. I left a heap of crumpled-up friends on the floor of my apartment around 9 a.m., expecting a mess and an empty apartment when I returned. Instead I found a sparkling clean apartment and all of my houseguests watching "Jurassic Park III" in my living room. That's when the party officially turned into a bender. You probably know where to take it from here.

Annie Reed is a RedEye special contributor.

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