This Thanksgiving, my mother announced that we would be going to the Golden Corral for our big dinner. What a change in pace! I had been used to reserving space at a church or a gym, and having the traditional meal complete with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and sometimes ham (everyone bringing their own dish). But this year was going to be something new.
On hearing the announcement, two things immediately came to mind.
#1) That scene from "A Christmas Story" where they went to the Chinese place for Christmas, and they sang "Fa ra ra ra ra." Would we be the only ones at the Golden Corral while everyone else stayed at home eating their traditional dinners, napping it off, and watching football?
#2) When would the Golden Corral employees go home to their families? I know that some people say: "Don't worry about the employees. Golden Corral is open and even advertises their Thanksgiving dinner. The employees are there on their own free will." But this is faulty reasoning in a lame attempt to make oneself feel better. I know a lady who works at Golden Corral and is unable to attend church because they won't let her take Sundays off. (And you know somebody has to feed all those hungry Protestants who grab brunch after church on their "day of rest.")
But then, I understood my mother's decision. Consider all the pros: no cooking; no washing dishes; no leftovers; eat all you want and what you want; big enough to fit a large party.
There are also the cons: the food is not homemade; no turkey-salad sandwiches over the next week; other strangers will be there with you; could be more expensive.
Then the big day came. We all met at the Golden Corral and Holy Moly! The line went out the door! I couldn't believe it. All visions of "fa ra ra ra ra" vanished. I never knew that people actually did something different than the traditional dinner at home!
It took us fifteen minutes just to get to where you pick up your drinks. We paid for our own dinners, and wouldn't you know it? Golden Corral charged the special Thanksgiving rate. I heard Mister Krabs of Spongebob fame back in the kitchen. "Ka ching! Arghh argk argk argk argk argk!"
There we were--all twenty of us holding our drinks--waiting to be seated. The waitresses started putting together a section in one of those glass rooms. After about five minutes, they told us that someone else grabbed those tables. We were standing there with our drinks for over twenty minutes! (Well, my wife came up with the awesome idea of resting the drink trays on a ledge.) Yet, it was hard to get angry because of concern #2 above.
It was noisy all over the restaurant, but luckily, inside the glass room, it was quiet enough to where we could all have pleasant conversations. There was always someone up getting more food (which I suppose is true in most Thanksgiving dinners).
I started with a soup and salad, while my brother-in-law got a taco bowl. Then I went for my "Thanksgiving" plate. Wouldn't you know it? There was a line for the turkey and fixings! The turkey was okay, but nothing like how my wife cooks it (nice and dry - yum!). The dressing, mashed potato, cranberry sauce, and rolls were good. They always have good rolls. Desserts were okay. I didn't even try the chocolate fountain, though it seemed everyone else did.
We were there for over two hours, and it was all fun. It was good to see family again. There was a lot of laughing and the usual pouting kids and the poopy diaper. What Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without those?
When we left, the line to go in was still going out the door. It was all over for us. We had survived, and it wasn't all that bad. Though, I really wanted to hear somebody sing "Fa ra ra ra ra."