Thanksgiving dinner is like the Super Bowl of meals, the culmination of a year’s worth of eating, the pinnacle of appetites and indulgences. Everything is carefully planned, right down to the timing. The Atlantic came out with a definitive statement today that got us to pondering “The Correct Time to Eat Thanksgiving Dinner.”
When is this correct time? The Atlantic thoughtfully declares that it’s 4 p.m., keeping in mind the drowsy overeating effect on guests and factoring in the possibility of naps. “Eating at 4 p.m.,” says writer Joe Pinsker, results in a “leisurely meal [that] would then end at 5:30 or so, which is still plenty early in the day for an hour-long nap and a return to leftovers, in the form of a pre-bed snack, at 8:30 or nine.”
Fair enough, Mr. Pinsker. But the 4 p.m. meal then introduces the thorny issue of Thanksgiving day lunch. While he advises to just have a salad or something, even the most luxurious salad may taste like ash on Thanksgiving, most hallowed of all meal days. With a 2 p.m. dinner time, you’ve likely already been chowing down on hors d’oeuvres since noon, bypassing an actual lunch in anticipation of the main meal. Eating early will then allow possible nap time before starting on the leftovers, possibly allowing room in the schedule for a considerable evening snack.
Yes, 2 p.m. can mean a lot more hangout time with relatives you may or may not be enthusiastic about spending time with. But with all that food intake, no one would begrudge you a turkey-spurred nap (or even faking a turkey-spurred nap) in front of the televised football. Why, no one will even notice you snoring over Uncle Joe dozing over there in the recliner.
The thing is: Thanksgiving dinner is our favorite meal of the year. The 2 p.m. mealtime offers lots of opportunity to savor this dinner, to stretch it out for hours like an all-day sucker. There is absolutely no need to rush this. After all, with your stomach stretched out after that huge meal, you’ll likely be hungry again by 7 or 8 anyway, just in time for your second favorite meal of the year. By then everyone will have had enough time to get over the food-fueled haze, for all the carbs to soak up all that wine and beer, and to head home safely, dreaming of tomorrow’s Thanksgiving leftover sandwich. Whenever you decide to dine, have a wonderful holiday, everyone.