How To

By Lauren Flaum

Thanksgiving in the twenty-first century is nothing like the original. Try to picture the pilgrims reaching for a box of StoveTop Stuffing or poking at a wobbly tower of canned cranberry sauce. Or think of yourself doing anything close to Puritan. The days of maize and mead are over; bring on the tofurky!

Nevertheless, the basic premise hasn’t changed too much. Thanksgiving is still about being with the important people in our lives. And the fun of it is that in a city like New York that has so many different cultures, customs, religions and people, the norm is challenged even more. For people from all walks of life, there is hope for a happy Turkey Day.

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Hosting Thanksgiving can be a Herculean task. Even if you handle this job every year, you’re still bound to be knee deep in kitchen chaos. The more prepared and organized you are, the better. Create a plan of attack and give yourself plenty of time. If you’re rushed, it will show. Try to prepare everything that you can in advance. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, although remember this advice of sages: if you want something done right, do it yourself. Things may go wrong (and they will…remember Murphy’s Law?), but try not to sweat it. Just do the best you can. Chances are, Cousin Bert will forget to bring the yams and you’ll run out of salt. But your guests will have to deal (and if they don’t like it, then they can kiss a big fat turkey butt!).

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But if the thought of hosting makes you break into hives, are all thumbs in the kitchen, haven’t been invited anywhere, or just shirk the idea of a traditional holiday, there is another option. Believe it or not, there is a plethora of restaurants that are open on Thanksgiving that ought to cater to your every whim and dietary fancy.

If Thanksgiving is all Greek to you, head Downtown for a Mediterranean morsel at Pylos (128 E. 7th St. between First Ave. and Ave. A; 212-473-0220). Their three-course, $35 prix-fixe menu includes such delectable delights as sweet potato and pumpkin moussaka and pumpkin-greek yogurt cheesecake with a sesame seed crust.

For a vegan meal without the tofurky, try Blossom (187 Ninth Ave. between 21st and 22nd Sts.; 212-627-1144). At $60, their four-course prix-fixe offers meatless-wonders like cranberry pumpkin gnocchi and porcini crusted seitan in a red wine sauce.

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You could also go traditional at Times Square Italian eatery Bond 45 (154 W. 45th St. near Seventh Ave. ; 212-869-4545) There are plenty of Thanksgiving specials available à  la carte, such as Vermont turkey with sausage stuffing and gravy ($23.95).

And if your looking for something healthy and kosher, go no further than Josies (300 Amsterdam Ave. at 74th St. ; 212-769-1212), an Uptown enclave featuring organic ingredients and free-range meats, including turkey. The three-course prix-fixe menu is $32.95; $17.95 for children.

For more Thanksgiving Day restaurant options, check out New York Magazine’s Holiday Guide.

Facing another holiday season sans ton amour? There’s no reason to wallow! You have a million options at your fingertips. Without shrill in-laws and tedious family obligations, you’re free to do what you want. Take a cruise, stay at home and make fun of the parade-goers, or join a friend for their Thanksgiving celebration. If you’re worried that you’ll be the only singleton there, relish it. Secretly, they’re probably jealous. After all, you don’t have to share your pumpkin pie.

Whatever your situation this Thanksgiving – whether you’re in the city or off to visit far-removed relatives – have a happy day making the most of what you have. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be about eating turkey and watching giant woodpeckers parade through Manhattan. And it most definitely doesn’t have to be about football. Thanksgiving is whatever you want it to be. So doff your pilgrim hat, grab a warm scarf, and find someplace cozy, friendly, and full of something tasty. Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally published November 2006
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