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Why My Family Goes Out to Eat on Thanksgiving (And Yours Should, Too!)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Drexel chapter.

My family has never been conventional when it comes to our Thanksgiving traditions. For starters, we’ve never really been a turkey kind of group (ham is clearly the superior meat, and it’s way easier to prepare). Also, it just so happens that we don’t eat that ham on Thursday. Instead, for as long as I can remember, we’ve spent our Thanksgivings out to eat, and push our home-cooked meal back to Friday. 

So, why choose to go out to eat when everyone else stays in?

Thanksgiving is all about spending time with family. Seeing that neither of my parents have siblings, I happen to not have aunts, uncles, or cousins that could come visit us. My mom’s side of the family lives about 12 hours away, leaving my now 97 year-old grandmother (who lived alone for most of my childhood) as the closest relative to us at about a 6-hour car ride, and the obvious choice to visit on this holiday. 

Every year, we’d be let out of school a little early on Tuesday, but instead of going home to pack for a long car ride on Wednesday, we’d take it easy. The next day, my sisters and I would enjoy our day off and slowly get our things together. 

Thursday, we would take off, smooth sailing on the empty highway for what could have been a miserable car ride with traffic. After a few hours, we would near our restaurant of choice: Cracker Barrel —which happened to be the midpoint between our house and my grandmother’s. After a lovely meal, we’d get back in the car with stomachs full only to fall asleep. When we awoke, we would only be 5 minutes away. 

Flash forward to Friday evening, and we’re setting the table for our homemade Thanksgiving meal. It’s the best of both worlds. Years later, my grandmother moved into a retirement home only 30 minutes from our house, but the tradition of going out to eat on Thanksgiving day remains. And there’s a good reason for that! While this tradition was born from personal circumstances, I’d like to propose why it is one that others should consider adopting too. 

1. It takes the pressure off preparing the idealized Thanksgiving meal

Image Courtesy of Сергей Орловский on Unsplash

There’s so much buildup around crafting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey, with all of the traditional dishes to boot. Going to a restaurant where they make the traditional meal for you eliminates all of the stress associated with this, and allows you to get creative with your homemade meal later (if you choose to do both). It just so happens that my mom has mastered the perfect ham, not turkey, and we get to enjoy that on Friday instead.

2. Restaurants are falling all over themselves to give you an exclusive holiday deal

Image Courtesy of Cracker Barrel

Recognizing that most people don’t go out to eat on this holiday, many restaurants get creative to try and convince people to come in and have a meal. Cracker Barrel, for example, offers a Thanksgiving platter with all of the holiday classics, including homestyle turkey and pumpkin pie. Smaller restaurants sometimes go even further—in fact, last year my family went to a place that offered a completely free Thanksgiving meal in hopes of gaining new customers.

3. There is zero traffic on Thanksgiving

Image Courtesy of Alexander Popov on Unsplash

If you’re visiting family for Thanksgiving break, you’re already losing a lot of your holiday to travel time. As I mentioned, the road trip on Thanksgiving Day instead of the day before will cut your travel time way down because you’re not sharing the road with the thousand other people going to visit their family.

4. A Thanksgiving meal still feels like a Thanksgiving meal no matter what day it is

Image Courtesy of Pro Church Media on Unsplash

Just because you didn’t stuff yourself full of marshmallow yams on a Thursday doesn’t mean you’ve lost out. You can still enjoy a nice big meal with your family on Black Friday and I promise it won’t hurt you. It can be a great reward after a long, tiresome day of holiday shopping. As long as you’re with the people you love, it doesn’t matter on what day of the week or how you’re spending time with them —just that you are with them. 

Her Campus Drexel contributor.