Life By Design: Turkey Day

According to the December issue of Vanity Fair, Thanksgiving’s time honored traditions include the obvious turkey and football, followed by a good nap.









Surprisingly women out-nap men 39% to 33%, but probably only after they have done the dishes and put the leftovers away. 

A good family argument is part of the holiday according to 22% of men and 14% of women, followed by indigestion and the inevitable strong drink that is either the salve for the argument or possibly the cause.

This V.F. poll proves my point that the best thing to do at Thanksgiving is skip it altogether, eliminating the need for slaving over what is really not a very interesting meal, followed by overeating to the point that there is nothing to do but pass out, causing said relatives to get bent out of shape for your slinking off to the couch or some tucked away bedroom with the hope that no one will find you.

If you live in Manhattan you have less of a chance of your holiday being ruined by its very nature.  Many people simply don’t have the oven space or the dining facility to celebrate traditionally. 

Chef Jimmy Bradley, owner of the Red Cat in Chelsea and the Harrison in TriBeCa told the New York Times that the restaurants served more than 300 pounds of turkey last year.  The number one rule for cooking turkeys is to know that it will never be the big bird on a platter that grandma brings out to the table for the current man of the family to go to town hacking to bits with an electric knife.  A favorite  childhood memory, everyone holding their breath hoping Dad wouldn’t saw through the knife’s cord shaming the bird back into the kitchen as though it were the bird’s fault for being unwieldy.

And in many of these restaurants you can still get the leg if that is what you fight for each year knowing the damn thing only came with two and that there are always five people who want it: chefs recommend cutting up the bird before you cook it, ‘roasting the turkey breast in one oven while braising the legs in another.”   Seems that the tanned turkey we see in idyllic photos can’t possibly be cooked properly overall.

If you are going out to dinner locally, don’t try Chat 19 in Larchmont as they are taking the day off.

You can go to Lusardi’s, and for a fixed-price menu of $49.50, get a four course meal with the third course being turkey breast, roasted potatoes and gravy.  The risotto as a second didn’t sound very American to me, but neither did the guy who answered the phone; they both sounded more like delicious Italian dishes.

On a more casual note you can go to the Mamaroneck Diner at any time of night and get the turkey special for $18.00.

Since the majority of people nationwide cook at home, you can try the deep-fry method and keep your oven available for the sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows and Campbell soups own creamed string beans with crunchy onions casserole.  You do need a deep-fryer which you will set up in your yard, not on your wooden deck that could catch fire or on your patio that will be stained by the oil.  According to Betty Crocker’s Southern-style Deep-Fried turkey recipe, and who the heck is more American than she, you do want to have a fire extinguisher nearby and you will want to wear old shoes you can slip out of easily in addition to long pants in case you spill oil on yourself.  It warns to keep children and small pets at a distance.  

For those that would like to go out but are expected to ‘have’ Thanksgiving, you can order it up like my girlfriend Florence does every year.  She has her husband’s family, 12 of them this Thursday, and has the entire meal prepared by Stew Leonard’s.  No one is particularly fooled by this since she has a perfect track record for never having used the oven in her homes.    

The possibilities for a hassle free turkey day are endless: Fresh Direct does a heat and serve for 14-18 people for $299.99.  Whole Foods will feed your family of 12 for $199.99 (order today) and you will receive a 14-16 pound turkey, traditional New England stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans with almonds, rich turkey gravy and orange relish.  You will also receive the bonus of having no pans to wash.  The only drawback is the smell of turkey cooking, which by the way is nauseating after you’ve already eaten.  If you’re one of the lucky nappers this may not apply to you.    

And who wants to think too much about your poor bird who didn’t receive a pardon from an elected official in order to live out its life wandering around some nature conservancy feeling lucky.  But better to think about that then the Sarah Palin video from two years ago where she jaw-boned on at the slaughter site, a Burberry scarf warming her neck .

This year I’m having Thanksgiving at The Osborn, the premier retirement facility in Rye, in the formal dining room.  Premier is right.  They charge $58.50 per person, nine dollars more than Lusardi’s.  But that must include in-house services like being wheeled away from the table if necessary along with an oxygen mask if the drinks are too stiff.  The good news is, this isn’t the First Thanksgiving; that lasted three days.     


  Kim Berns is an interior designer and writer living in Rye.


  1. Kim,
    You never fail to amuse.
    You’ve turned my disposition of dreading Thanksgiving, to one of fully expecting comedy and being able to laugh at it.
    And I will be taking one of those guiltless naps I never take when I run out of steam–while the men remain at the table expecting the dishes to grown legs, march to the dishwasher and magically turn it on.

  2. Fantastic piece! Let’s all go out to a restaurant tomorrow!:D

  3. You have inspired me to change my Thanksgiving plans. I am serving cheeseburgers and playing Band Hero and starting a new tradition.

  4. We survived Thanksgiving . . . what’s your advice for Hanukkah and Christmas?? ha.

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