I believe in traditions. Traditions are important. They help remind you who you are. Now that said, I really don’t believe you need to borrow anyone else’s traditions, you’re far better off making up your own. And so it is with the Thanksgiving Pizza.
About a year before The Boy and I married, we (or it may have been just me) suffered from a bout of hysteria and decided it would be ‘fun’ to have 9 of our closest relatives over for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Now this might actually have been fun if the insanity hadn’t set it. I think now that I wanted desperately to seem like a ‘real’ grownup, and two things crystallized in my mind as to how I could do that.
The first was the apartment. It had to be spotless. We cleaned for a week. We bought furniture. We used touch-up paint. We hired maids to come scrub the baseboards and windows. Now it was all clean, but the apartment building was old and ill maintained. No amount of scrubbing in this world will make up for 80 years of poor treatment. You cannot scrub a crack out of a window nor a dent out of a floor nor are you going to successfully polish the 18 coats of paint on a rusty radiator to a glossy shine. You can have very very clean baseboards, but the lumps of dust they painted over 10 years ago are still going to be lumps. I realize this now (I have a 90 year old house, it was realize this or go insane), but it was a challenging concept at first.
The second was the food. We made a feast. The kind with 3 types of stuffing and 4 pies and a dozen side dishes and a bird the size of a small asteroid. But the apartment thwarted us here too. The kitchen was tiny. Imagine a strip of floor 2 feet wide and 5 feet long with cabinets and appliances on the long sides and a window and doorway on the short sides. You could stand in the middle, reach out your arms, and touch either pair of walls without moving your feet. The refrigerator only opened partway because the door bumped into the stove. Most of the food lived in a cabinet in the hallway because there was no pantry, and most of the dishes lived in a cabinet in the dining room because there were almost no cabinets. Of course, there was no dishwasher.
Now we did it, and we survived. We fed everyone tasty food, off of good china, at one table, in a spotless apartment. There were decorations and music and wine and a good time was had by all. But after everyone went home, as we surveyed the wreckage and mentally totted up the time and money we’d spent putting it together, we turned to each other and said, “next year we’re getting pizza.” Thus the tradition was born.
We’ve gotten pizza on Thanksgiving every year since (this year was the sixth). We’ve made our own, we’ve had it delivered, we’ve driven out in a blinding snowstorm to fetch it. Sometimes we’ve been out of the country and had the fun of tracking down something resembling pizza wherever we were. It’s a tradition, we must follow it.
Now this year, we were almost thwarted. We broke with tradition and did a quick thing with Boy’s family in the afternoon. As we were headed home, we went past at least half a dozen pizza joints…all closed. We had two choices, we could admit defeat (unthinkable), or we could make our own pizza (not really keeping with the spirit of the thing). And then, a third alternative presented itself.
We could go north.
Canada doesn’t close all of its pizza joints for American Thanksgiving. We ran inside, grabbed clothes, toothbrushes, and passports, fed the cats, and were back out the door and on the road in 15 minutes or less. Three and a half hours later, we rolled into Windsor, strolled into a pizza place just before 11, and had our traditional feast – complete with beer and the mandatory festive toast. We stayed the night, got up the next morning, and meandered our way slowly homeward (stopping at 2 breweries, 2 yarn stores, and the one and only Lumberjack Restaurant on the way).
Traditions matter. They remind you who you are. We are the crazy people fleeing to Canada in search of pizza.