1. Debate flying home.
Like, back in July, debate flying home. Have you seen how expensive holiday tickets are? And you live where? And you want to avoid how many layovers? But maybe the expensive ticket is a sign that you shouldn’t go. Maybe you’d do well to avoid Uncle Eddie’s comments about how your weight gain’s gone straight to your boobs (this counts for guys, too). Maybe staying at home and drinking hard cider instead of eating apple pie is what you’re supposed to do. But then your mom would be so disappointed, wouldn’t she? Maybe this year will be different. Maybe Grandma won’t be a raging bigot.
2. Receive phone call from mom that she and your stepdad will be flying off to some all-inclusive resort for two weeks.
Begin wondering if maybe the whole family dinner thing was a front and you’ve really been a shackle to her all these years.
3. Take matters into your own hands and decide to host your own Thanksgiving.
Faulty oven be damned! You can finally buy pots and pans! You can tackle the turkey! You managed to get a job—yes, in this economy!—so by golly, you can do anything you set your mind to!
4. Realize you have no idea how to cook anything beyond Kraft Mac’n’Cheese.
Bingewatch The Food Network. Begrudge The Barefoot Contessa her perfect life. Scour BuzzFeed’s food section for tips. Get distracted by 60 posts about cute corgis.
5. Send E-Vites to 10 friends you think might be staying in the city.
Two of them will be jetting out of town on paychecks larger than you could ever dream, one has parents who bought their ticket home, one lives close enough to travel home without much hassle, and one asks if you can move it to Thanksgiving Brunch or coffee sometime.
6. Buy the bird.
Balk at how expensive whole turkeys are. Debate if you can get away with serving a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. People like those buckets from KFC, don’t they? And how important is free-range vs. organic vs. local vs. air-chilled? So choices. Very money. Much expenses. Debate hosting a vegetarian dinner. Buy the turkey, roasting pan, brining equipment, fresh Brussels sprouts, canned pumpkin, sweet potatoes, green beans, box of stuffing, and a frozen TV dinner, just in case. Kiss the Christmas bonus you’re not even sure you’re getting good-bye.
7. Realize you have to defrost the bird in just 2 days.
8. Research how to speed up turkey defrosting.
Can you soak it in water? Leave it on the sink? Wrap it up in towels and spoon with it? How long would it take to cook it from frozen? Why did nobody ever create Turkey popsicles? Debate vegetarianism again. Say a little prayer to the Great Pumpkin, who might be a Halloween thing, but pumpkin pie is right on the Thanksgiving money so hey, you never know.
9. Cook every other food.
Get into a fight with your roommate about how much fridge space you’re taking up. Swear off cooking ever again. Order take-out WHILE you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner because anything beyond this meal is too much effort.
10. Cook the turkey.
Realize you’ve spent enough time in your kitchen to be the next Walter White. Debate cooking stuffing in the turkey. Do you want to risk salmonella? Wait, isn’t one of your friends a vegetarian? Did you use chicken stock in the stuffing? Panic when you think the pan you bought is too large for your micro-kitchen. Remove every rack in your teeny little oven to fit the turkey inside. Close the oven door and realize you can’t leave the house for four hours. Baste your mouth with the leftover beer you bought to brine the turkey.
11. Have all but two friends bail on you at the last minute.
Via text. Your cat will steal a piece of the turkey as you try to find the perfect emoji to explain how much of a backstabber they are.
12. Feast on enough food to last you until Christmas.
Agree with the two friends who did show up that you should do this again for the next holiday. Never follow through. Receive your mom’s “wish you were here!” postcard. Get so sick of turkey, you seriously consider vegetarianism one last time. Play Russian roulette with leftovers until December 12th without getting food poisoning. Something to be thankful for, indeed.