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Late Thanksgiving Dinner?

I know that some families enjoy Thanksgiving for lunch (noon/early afternoon), but for those with guests who don't have to travel far and thus won't have issues with post-consumption lethargy, do you ever serve later in the 7-9pm hours?

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  1. Always.

    It's why we call it "Thanksgiving Dinner" as opposed to "Thanksgiving meal"

    11 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Do you eat breakfast and lunch beforehand? I suggested the late night idea but complaints were that they would be so hungry but didn't want to eat breakfast and lunch and then miss out on the good dinner eats.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Yes - both breakfast and lunch.

        We don't believe in gorging ourselves just b/c it's Thanksgiving. It's a normal meal, but simply with (more) family and friend.

        Celebrating Thanksgiving for us is more about being with loved ones, the food is there more as background music (and generally it's not even turkey).

        We could just as well be eating instant ramen and Saltine crackers as long as we are doing it with friends and family.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          It is easy to "overeat" turkey without actually "gorging" oneself (at least in our family) since when you eat it takes around 20 minutes for your "brain" to feel full.... so if you eat until you are full because it is a special dinner then you end up being stuffed.

          Usually Thanksgiving (Christmas being the other) is one of two occasions where we would have much larger number of guests invited over since you would pick up maybe extra students from University or College, sometimes teachers, co-workers, etc. in addition to any additional family you would have locally since it is important for people not to be alone on important celebratory days like Thanksgiving. The people you eat with is always more important than just the food. Food always tastes better when shared with friends and family.

          Personally, I did not like all the sides etc. that were common (mashed potatoes, turnip, etc) - so for me Thanksgiving dinner was hot turkey sandwiches & and of course the stuffing which is why a whole bird was always important. Stuffing made without a turkey ... is just not stuffing to me. Always looked forward to leftovers that would be used in turkey curry, and turkey & rice soup.

          1. re: cacruden

            What I did find strangely different between my American Thanksgiving and my normal Canadian Thanksgiving was that the American one typically had more religion intertwined with their Thanksgiving feast/holiday.... while the Canadian one never had any religious ties in the same way as the American one. Religious holidays were Easter and Christmas. Thanksgiving was purely traditional.

            1. re: cacruden

              I find that very strange. Even the super religious folks I know don't consider Thanksgiving a religious holiday in the US. Theist religion is that they say grace before the meal. Many people do that at everyday though.

              1. re: melpy

                It was more than just grace before the meal, that would not have triggered that feeling.... although my father kept it short and to the point "For this food we are about to receive, thank god.... amen". It was more of a reorientation of the thankfulness of the harvest and to the natives that saved an il-prepared european group to going around the big table and indicating what you were thankful of god for.... To which I just decided to pick a politically correct thanking of my co-workers :o. There were some other small things in addition to it, but it became more of thanksgiving to god. Not quite a Christmas or Easter but more than just a festive feast.

              2. re: cacruden

                I have never noticed any religious aspect to Thanksgiving either.

                1. re: cacruden

                  The American Thanksgiving holiday has ties to the 'first Thanksgiving' with the Pilgrims giving thanks for a good harvest. The Pilgrims left their homeland because of religious persecution. While many people do not include a religious aspect of Thanksgiving, many do. I think it depends on how religious a family is to start with. Many times that is partly determined by their geographical location. The big population centers, especially on the coasts, seem to have a more secular bent.

                  1. re: cacruden

                    I was raised in small-town Missouri and despite being regular churchgoers in a mainline Protestant church, never believed it to be a religious holiday. And in those days we sang "We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing..." and another religious song set to Sibelius' Finlandia in the school's assembly just before being dismissed for the 4-day weekiend. (And how things have changed since then on that score. No opinions necessary, just remarking.)

                    My dear late MIL born in 1900 and brought to this country from the Ukraine in 1902, an educated non-religious Jew, always remarked that there were a tradition of harvest festivals in all cultures. And in their family, Thanksgiving was THE holiday, the one for which all the little wandering sheep were encouraged to return to the fold, heavy airport traffic or not. No other holiday or birthday was the equivalent. Very markedly non-religious from start to finish.

                    So much depends on the family whose celebration it is. I am sure there are homes in which all celebrations include religious elements, but even in these days of some revival in Christian faiths, I am sure there are just as many that aren't.

              3. re: fldhkybnva

                That's how our family is, everyone cries if we eat past 2:00 since no one wants to eat before the big meal! I personally prefer a 1:00 meal time!

              4. re: ipsedixit

                The meaning of "Dinner" is regional. The way I grew up is:

                Dinner-noon meal
                Supper- evening meal

                We have Thanksgiving dinner.

              5. I'm later than that. We're visiting relatives for Thanksgiving, but the three of us need to have one too. I plan to cook a turkey on the grill (like we always do), mashed potatoes, dressing, some cranberry relish, and maybe waldorf salad, but then maybe not. A truncated version, customized for us.

                2 Replies
                1. re: EWSflash

                  Grilled turkey, that sounds fabulous!

                  1. re: EWSflash

                    We Love grilled turkey! DH smoked one Sunday just for us, his family just doesn't appreciate it, so Thursday it will be roasted in the oven.

                  2. I didn't know anybody celebrated it at lunch. Everyone I know including my family in Canada have it as a dinner. This year I was asked to cater for thanksgiving "dinner" by my American boss, I agreed and have been planning everything in my head. Yesterday he told me the dinner was at 1:00pm which thuroughly confused me. I can adapt to the time fine, I just found it odd, but maybe it's pretty normal then.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: TeRReT

                      I didn't realize until I was an adult, that some people ate it as a lunch. I think that is very strange and don't care for that idea at all. We always called it "Thanksgiving dinner" and ate it at dinner time (after 5 pm).
                      Everyone eats breakfast, then arrives "whenever' for drinks and apps and to hang out/help/get in the way before dinner between 5 and 6 pm.

                      1. re: sedimental

                        Same here. We never had family in town and dinner was at 4 or 5 when I was growing up.

                      2. re: TeRReT

                        Yeah, I'm Canadian and it was always dinner. We'd have a light lunch at about noon - bread, cheese, pickles,salad, and be ready to eat by about 7.

                        1. re: TeRReT

                          My brother's inlaws serve holiday meals at noon. Many years ago my father was out of the country for Thanksgiving so my family and my mother ended up at this noon meal. After the meal all of the food was put away and the kitchen cleaned. Then about 5 pm the food was brought out again. I thought it was too much family togetherness for too long.

                          1. re: TeRReT

                            OMG, that would make it very difficult...... No wonder the Americans I had Thanksgiving in London UK with served cold turkey.... they are probably use to it if they have an early turkey. When growing up, my mom would have to get up at around 5am to stuff the bird and get it in the oven for it to be ready for dinner (at around 6 - 7pm)..... Sometimes had trouble squeezing it in the oven :o

                            If it has to be ready by 1pm, you basically have to put it in the oven around midnight (if you want it warm) and that means someone is getting no sleep.

                            1. re: cacruden

                              Yeah, beyond not wanting to show up and deal with relatives by noon, and beyond thinking it's too early in the day for a major feast, the torture on the cook is terrible!

                              1. re: cacruden

                                Must be one big bird!
                                I put my turkey in at 7:30 am and we ate at 12:30 with an hour of resting time. Should have been 30 minutes but we were wrestling with the mashed potato for 30 minutes. 16 lb. bird

                                1. re: melpy

                                  The largest bird we had was a 33lb bird I believe. Others, not as large but 16lb would be a little small.

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    Actually melpy, I think at least an hour is a better resting time :)

                              2. Ugh. Hubby's family always ate holiday meals at 12 NOON. Period. Hated it. We will do 6 or 7 pm. You know, dinner time-ish, but not too late for eating a lot.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: sandylc

                                  I don't like to eat that late because you don't get hungry for turkey and stuffing sandwiches. For us, the perfect time is 3:30, no lunch first, late breakfast. It is late enough to be easy in terms of getting the turkey in the oven, but leaves time for the essential late night turkey sandwich ;)

                                  1. re: magiesmom

                                    Indeed, good point. I think I enjoy the post-dinner sandwich leftovers kickoff that night more than the actual meal. Though I don't miss out on a good share of leftovers over the weekend as usual. I seem to dig into the fridge after Thanksgiving for a week.

                                  2. re: sandylc

                                    Last year my mother-in-law decided to move the eating time up from noon to 11:30am because they just simply couldn't wait any longer. They typically eat lunch by 11am any more. No matter what the occasion is, we must eat the "dinner" at noon at their home.

                                    I grew up in a household where dinner was served sometime between 6-6:30 no matter what. I personally prefer sometime after 7pm myself. I am fine with a holiday dinner that takes place mid afternoon. There is something about the day being a holiday that just says that the way it is done should be a little bit different somehow, but, the noon thing kills me. It would be different if it was early to accommodate someones schedule but since it isn't...

                                  3. My grandparents ate their dinner around 2pm every day of their married lives. Thanksgiving for our family was no different. I loved it. We'd eat a huge meal, prepared by my grandmother who was an incredible French cook, take a nap, and have a light meal later on from the leftovers.
                                    It's a remarkably healthy way to eat, as my many friends who were raised on a kibbutz, will testify.
                                    I prefer it this way.