What You Should Already Have Done For Thanksgiving


Are all those checklists for Thanksgiving dinner stressing you out? The ones that start weeks, even a month, in advance? Well, you are not nearly stressed out enough. Here are all the things you have already failed to do.

Nine months before your birth

As soon as she conceived you, your mom should have embarked on a diet of dark leafy greens and low-mercury, high-omega-3 fish. This was necessary to prepare your fetal brain for the stresses of one day hosting Thanksgiving. But your mom probably ate candy and burgers, didn’t she, that lush?

First grade

While other kids are learning how to pick boogers and spell “butthead,” you should have been mastering simple cooking techniques — boiling pasta, sauteing vegetables, making a basic coq au vin. Your parents could have read those Cooking With Dexter columns in the Times for inspiration. What? They weren’t published back then? Well, they should’ve been.

Sixth grade

This is when you should have started planning for the social aspects of the holiday. You should have built up a robust friend network that would have given you the confidence and people skills necessary to host large gatherings. You should definitely not have had lunch in the band room.

High school

At this point, you should have started hosting parties. Fun, cool parties, but also parties that utilized your cooking and table-scaping skills. Rather than drinking rum and Cokes and playing an awkward game of Twister, you should have been making leaf-shaped, hand-frosted pot brownies. Organic pot brownies.


It is (or rather it was) time to think about money. You should have majored in something that would have enabled you to pay for the various cooking implements you’ll need, such as a turkey deep-fryer and a full set of Le Creuset cookware. Another option at this point would have been to inherit $1 billion.

Two years ago

If you didn’t have one already, this would have been the time to buy a beautiful and spacious home. You should have picked one with a large formal dining room and plenty of space for mingling and enjoying pre-dinner hors d’oeuvres. You also needed a kitchen island. Two years should be plenty of time to decorate your home in a style that’s tasteful yet also uniquely you.

One year ago

At this point you should have quit your job in order to devote yourself full-time to Thanksgiving preparation. If you had followed the advice in the “college” section, this would have been eminently feasible.


As soon as the ground thawed, you should have begun planting your garden, including heirloom varieties of potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, wheat (for making your own bread), and aljgivaeka. What’s aljgivaeka? If you’d been on top of things, you would know by now.


April was the time to start your cranberry bog. You should have chosen a stream-fed moist area on your property and covered it with peat moss and sand, then planted cranberries. But don’t worry if you forgot this step, you can just use store-bought cranberries. Just kidding, hahahahahahahahahaha!


You should have purchased several newborn turkeys from a respected turkey breeder, or, better yet, gathered wild turkey eggs and hatched them yourself, by sitting on them. If you had started in May, you would have had plenty of time to feed, groom, and educate your turkeys for maximum deliciousness.


Many people view summer as the most pleasant part of Thanksgiving. Tending to your garden, combing your cranberry bog, reading Keats to your turkeys — this is how you should have learned the true spirit of the holiday.


Now would have been the time to hire a staff to help you get through the home stretch. Five kitchen assistants, a pastry chef, a sommelier, and two footmen would have been sufficient. You should also have retained a crew of local agriculture students to help you harvest the vegetables. If none are available, September would have been a great time to start your own school.


You should have spent this month cleaning your house from top to bottom, replacing all clutter with beautiful seasonal decorations. Then you should have moved into a hotel so as not to mess anything up.

November 1-15

For the first half of November, you should have taken a two-week yoga retreat in order to clear your mind. Meanwhile, your staff should have purchased any ingredients you for some reason failed to grow yourself.

November 16

Returning from your yoga retreat cleansed and calmed, you would have been in the perfect frame of mind to humanely slaughter your turkeys. Then you should have plucked them and brined them in salt from the Dead Sea.

Three days before

If the President and his family had confirmed their attendance (as they no doubt would have if you’d followed the steps above), this would have been the time to organize a security detail. Also, to start making pie crust.

One day before

Rookies assemble dishes the day before. You should have assembled a life-size model of the Plymouth colony so that your guests’ children could have learned all about our nation’s history before dinner. Sure, real smallpox-infected blankets might have killed a few of them, but don’t you care about education?

The big day

If you’d done everything right, after spending the day preparing and eating a delicious feast with your family and friends, you would have ascended to Thanksgiving Heaven, where you would have been attended by turkeys playing harps and winged bowls of mashed potatoes. But since you didn’t do everything right (did you?), you will be stuck on earth watching football, drinking wine, and putting ice on your cooking burns just like the other normals. We hope you enjoy it.

Image via msheldrake/Shutterstock.com

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