By the Jodie 1/2 of Lydia Dare
I’ll never forget Thanksgiving dinner 1983. Never.
No, we weren’t at my grandparents’ cozy house enjoying turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. No, those holiday dinners all tend to blend together, don’t they? And this particular dinner still stands out in my mind. Why, you ask? Because Thanksgiving 1983 we dined at a Burger King in the middle of nowhere, Indiana.
That’s right. Thanksgiving dinner at Burger King. And, no, they didn’t offer turkey, mashed potatoes, or pumpkin pie. Who even knew they were open on Thanksgiving, right? But it was a good thing they were.
You see, my family was in the process of moving from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest. So there we were - four children and our parents in an ugly brown van with splashes of wild color on the sides (it was the 80s and at the time we thought it looked cool) driving across the country.
But I digress.
We were in a strange state we’d never been to before. We had no family (other than ourselves) and no friends to invite us over. No, we were on our own for Thanksgiving, and the prospects weren’t exactly promising. Oh, there were some nice restaurants open, but none that my father would stop at. I recall hearing repeatedly from the driver’s seat, “I’m not paying $20 a head for food.”
Never mind it wasn’t just food, it was Thanksgiving!! (And it was the 80s so $20 a head for food was a lot in those days. Especially if four of those heads were ten years old or younger.)
So we kept driving (and those who know me well will tell you I got my overly frugal ways from my father). And we kept driving. And it started getting dark, and off in the distance down the twisty, turny road we traveled – we saw a sign for Burger King.
It was like a beacon.
Not that we wanted to feast on whoppers or cheeseburgers for Thanksgiving, but it was food that wasn’t going to cost my father $20 a head. And by this time, we were really hungry. So we inhaled the burger and fries my parents put before us (and the cup of water, because no one was going to pay good money for a soda).
And in the back of my mind, I told myself that it wasn’t Thanksgiving. That it was just another night along the road and there was nothing special about it.
But that wasn’t really true.
Oh, it was most certainly a non-traditional holiday dinner, but we all had each other which is what Thanksgiving is really all about. And in the months that came after that night, we needed each other like we never had before. Leaving everyone you’ve ever known to embark on a life in a strange town, in a strange state, with people who aren’t remotely like you is a very difficult thing. Especially at that age. But we always did have each other, whether it was for Thanksgiving dinner at Burger King or at any other bump along the road.
Have you ever had a holiday dinner that was less than traditional? And is that why it sticks out in your mind?