Monday, April 1, 2013

Don't Cry for Me, All You Young'Uns

If you had asked me a decade ago what I thought would be the saddest part of being empty nesters, I would probably have included the word "holiday meals" somewhere in my answer.

I love cooking for holidays. My menus are as unchanging as the Rock of Gibralter, and as predictable as right-wing outrage.  Thanksgiving is turkey, yams, and pecan pie; Christmas is ham and peppermint ice cream pie; Fourth of July is fried chicken and homemade ice cream.

Easter is ham, asparagus, strawberries, homemade rolls, and cheesecake. Always.

Except that yesterday, for the first time in 30 years, Husband and I had no extra chicks in the nest. The Boys haven't been home for this holiday for several years, what with three of them in school many states away and the fourth a musician for whom special church services are a prime opportunity for picking up paying gigs. Since the Boys have been gone we've had Husband's mother with us, so I continued with my rock-bound big meal tradition.

This year, though, it was only the two of us. Two of us who don't need a week's worth of leftover homemade rolls and cheesecake, much as that prospect makes me drool on my keyboard. At this time of the year Husband  is more focused on deductions than on asparagus so he was fine with my tentative suggestion that maybe we should try the buffet.

The only problem was that I'd always assumed holiday buffets were for a certain segment of the society, a segment mostly defined by the words "old" and "lonely," and also tagged with the label "loser." I pictured the sad  white-haired couples tottering into the restaurant where they would gum their food and carefully count the tip out of their coin purses. Since obviously that does not describe the young(ish), life-of-the-party winners that Husband and I are, would we have moved into that pitiful category feared by full-nest folks?

Well, the answer to this question is, of course, "MomQueenBee, you are an idiot." 

Did you know that you can pay the restaurant some money, and they will COOK YOUR FOOD FOR YOU? You don't have to spent Saturday proofing rolls and carefully incorporating cream cheese into eggs and sugar, or set the alarm for 4 a.m. so the ham can be in the Crockpot before church. Also, the nice restaurant folks CLEAN UP! AND DO THE DISHES! so the Sunday afternoon nap is uninterrupted by hand-washing of the good china and wrapping up of leftovers.

Also, when you have lived in Small Town as long as we have, you know most of the people in the restaurant anyway, so it's like eating with family. That's especially true if you drag the preacher's wife and her husband with you because they're empty-nesters, too. You'll be waving at the family two tables down and asking the nice lady next to you how her daffodils are doing. You will eat fried chicken even though it's not the Fourth of July. You and your friend the preacher's wife will feel as if you've discovered buried treasure because this was so easy and fun.

But we'll let it be our secret. We don't want the young'uns to discover this, the easiest holiday menu ever.


  1. I am an only child and growing up we lived far, far away from any family. Therefore, we always went to buffets for Thanksgiving and Easter and man did I LOVE IT! Those days my parents let me have whatever I wanted from the buffet - all desserts? Fine! No turkey? Whatever. It was really awesome as a kid. I keep trying to convince husband we should do this for the holiday, but am constantly outvoted probably because now all of both of our families live close and like to be together. Nevertheless, one of these days, I'm going to get back to the buffet!

    1. Maggie, Husband's brother's family was unexpectedly home for Thanksgiving one year so they went to the grocery store and every person got to get one thing they wanted. It could be anything from steak to Skittles, and they still talk about it as the best Thanksgiving ever.

  2. You give me hope that I will survive these children and live a good life (if I haven't completely lost my mind by then) when they have moved on. Thank you =)!

    1. Yay! "A good life" is an excellent way to describe it. Also a life in which the only shoes you have to look for are your own.