OK Chick-fil-a, this time you have gone too far. It is one thing to provide a great chicken sandwich, and even to cater events with your most excellent chicken nuggets and sides. But some things ought not be messed with, and Thanksgiving dinner is one of them.
I have written some nice things about you here in this space and am a fan of your food. I even get your emails. Which almost never feature coupons, by the way, but that is something for another time.
What I did received in this most recent email was an invitation – an invitation inviting me to invite you to cater – my family’s Thanksgiving dinner? I can just not go there because this is so many kinds of wrong I just can’t count them.
You make a great choice for catering all kinds of holidays. A Chick-fil-a 4th of July? I would be all over it. A Chick-fil-a New Years spread? Sign me up! I could even see a Chick Chick-fil-a Easter – what could go better with kids searching for eggs than a bunch of chicken nuggets? Though that connection might best be left unsaid with the younger ones But Thanksgiving? Just no.
I have written here previously about my history with the Thanksgiving holiday here. And being a traditional sort, I don’t stray from those family traditions easily. But straying from a family tradition means adjusting the time we serve a meal or whether the stuffing is homemade or from one of those easy boxes. Replacing a roasted turkey with a big box of chicken nuggets is just, well, I’m pretty good with words but I have none for this.
Perhaps it is because you are from the south. I love the south, I really do. But Thanksgiving is a New England thing, and New Englanders were never known for doing things the easy way. No, a proper meal is expected for Thanksgiving.
Good heavens, isn’t Thanksgiving being beaten up enough? Somewhere along the line the “Black Friday”
consumerist orgy retail event started bleeding into the late night of the holiday, and has finally given up all pretense of staying within its own little box on the calendar. “Black Second Half Of November” will be upon us soon enough. And with you offering to serve up a batch of chicken nuggets, waffle fries and sweet tea, isn’t that just being an enabler of our worst impulses?
Isn’t Thanksgiving the last bastion of “the family dinner” that once brought families to a table to eat and enjoy each others’ company? Even obnoxious Uncle Chester and Aunt Evelyn who are clueless about setting aside their opinions about everything for just long enough to attempt being good company.
One time a year people who do take-out with ever-increasing frequency take big, deep breaths and pull a dusty roasting pan from the basement. They work themselves to a perspiring frenzy peeling potatoes, rolling thawed pie crusts into pans and sprinkling canned french fried onions on top of green beans swimming in a bath of cream of mushroom soup.
But what we get out of it is a once-a-year real, home-cooked dinner that might even involve the fancy plates. The house smells the way a home is supposed to even if most of the sides are the result of opening boxes and cans. Folks (and not just ladies here) who almost never put a chicken to roast in the oven will get up early in the morning to get that big turkey in there.
Or perhaps the whole thing is doomed and your catering proposal is just one more indicator. Who roasts turkeys any more? Who makes real mashed potatoes or bakes homemade rolls? Does anyone bake pumpkin pies just because it’s a Tuesday? Perhaps our world of take-out Thai or the delivery options that have spread far beyond pizza are bound to take over once the influence of our mothers and grandmothers has slipped into the fog of the old folks’ memories.
As I read your ad a little closer, it appears that what you are really offering is to bring a Thanksgiving feast to my house – the day before so that we can just heat everything up. When you lead with “Put a spin on Thanksgiving traditions”, I guess that would be a spin alright. I can’t decide which is worse, chicken nuggets for Thanksgiving dinner, or having to reheat stuff that came yesterday. Which asks a great question – is it a leftover if you have to reheat it for the first time? Oh well, it’s surely better than the vintage frozen dinner featured as the opening visual.
I am not going to lie and tell you that having Chick-fil-a cater my Thanksgiving meal would be a hardship. No, the idea of sitting around all day in my robe and slippers instead of preparing food for the family that will soon be arriving has some real appeal to those of us who do not cook huge quantities of food just for fun (meaning perhaps 98% of us). All of those dishes, pots and pans are not going to wash themselves.
I realize that you are from the south and that your love of football might overshadow your love for turkey dinners. This should not, however, become an excuse to turn Thanksgiving into a dry run for Super Bowl Sunday. Which would be a perfect occasion to whet our Chick-fil-appetites. Oh wait, you aren’t open on Sundays. Never mind.
I like to think that you are not running scared because there is a new chicken sandwich in town from those folks down in Louisiana. The Popeye’s chicken sandwich is causing a ruckus (so much so that I have not ventured out to try one) (yet) but don’t let them force you into foreign territory.
The bottom line here is that you will not be catering my Thanksgiving dinner, thanks just the same. But perhaps I will keep you in mind for New Years.