Thanksgiving for Two
November 16, 2017 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Normally, my partner and I would be spending this Thanksgiving with our three teenage children from our previous marriages, our parents, our friends, or a combination thereof -- but we just discovered today that a last-minute change of plans means that this year for the first time ever, it's gonna be just the two of us. Help us figure out what to do?

We're a little sad about the change in plans, to be honest, but we're also...starting to get a little bit excited about it, too.

We could do anything! Or go anywhere! Or maybe we could go nowhere and not do a single thing! We're both writers/academics who have been working really hard for the last several months and managing lots of stress. It would be nice to take this opportunity to recharge and reconnect with one another. So, mefites: What would you do from Thursday afternoon - Sunday afternoon during this Thanksgiving holiday for maximum romance and relaxation?

A few hopefully helpful details:

1. We live in SW Ohio.

2. We like road trips and adventures, although we have both been traveling a lot for work recently and there's more travel upcoming on our dockets -- so we may be less keen than usual on long flights to other time zones, but for the right flight to the right place, who knows. It would be more convenient for us to head southward rather than northward if we go anywhere, though, because we have to be in TN on Sunday. However, we've already spent a lot of time in Louisville, Red River Gorge, and Nashville; it would be nice to see someplace new.

3. We like cities, we like going off the grid, and we like staying in at home in equal measure. Our work travel mostly takes us to big cities.

4. We like good food and art, and we're happy seeking those sorts of things out as well as making them for ourselves.

5. We can spend $750.00, give or take.
posted by pinkacademic to Travel & Transportation around Ohio (20 answers total)
A cabin in the Smokies!
posted by hollyholly at 8:24 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanksgiving is a terrible weekend to fly if you don't have to.
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:40 PM on November 16, 2017 [15 favorites]

My wife and I are having a 2-person Thanksgiving, too, and honestly the thing we're looking forward to the most is drawing inward and just having a full Thanksgiving meal between the two of us. We'll wear our comfiest jammies to bed the night before, get up late, and spend all morning cooking together and filling our home with the wonderful smells of Thanksgiving. We don't have cable so we'll play YouTube videos of old Macy's Day parades all day (it's delightful to watch the ones from a decade or more ago that have commercials!), take a leisurely mid-day stroll with our dog, and then come home and light cozy candles, probably open a bottle of wine or some beer, and eat as much stuffing, turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole as we want. Having lots of leftovers is a plus for us - who doesn't love those post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches and stuffing bites? Really, the whole thing is going to be just a little day of 'shelter' against all the end-of-semester craziness I've been experiencing and the work stuff she's been experiencing - we're going to revel in being together in our cozy little home. Coziness rules!

(FWIW, we're also planning a mini beach vacation immediately after my semester ends - we figure it'll be cheaper to rent a place on a non-holiday, plus I'll genuinely be able to celebrate the end of the semester and the temporary lightening of my load ... maybe you could take your $750 and do something similar!)
posted by DingoMutt at 8:54 PM on November 16, 2017 [13 favorites]

Oh God, no! Don't fly on Thanksgiving if you don't absolutely have to! Stay home, make great food, have a, fire in the fireplace (if you've got one),watch your favorite movies and take a walk after dinner to see the stars/Christmas lights or whatever. I'll bet its the best Thanksgiving ever!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:05 PM on November 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'd have someone deep clean the house for you on Wednesday. I'd prep some easy, favorite food on Wednesday, plus order a Thanksgiving meal for pick up on Thursday. I'd pick up the meal on Thursday and spend the rest of the day in clean pajamas playing video games and hanging out with my spouse. The rest of the weekend can be spent just hanging out on the couch and having sex and grazing on leftovers and watching movies. This is basically my annual tradition with my wife (although it's hard to keep the entire weekend stress-free, so we focus on Thursday). It is SO much fun. I'm disappointed that various obligations mean that we have to miss the tradition this year.
posted by studioaudience at 10:10 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

Stuff your faces with delicious foods you like, sleep, if you get enough sleep - visit a local(ish) museum. No need to get crazy when you've been working hard.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:11 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanksgiving is a terrible weekend to fly if you don't have to within the US. Actually Thanksgiving is a great time for flight deals outside the US as Americans are so focused on within US travel or sticking close to home at that time. A $750 budget is tight, but it's worth seeing if there are any international flight-hotel packages in that price range for a quick weekend away.
posted by peacheater at 10:19 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

(to peacheater's point, last year my wife and I did fly from Pittsburgh to Toronto for relatively cheap for Thanksgiving, and had a wonderful time - and found an incredible AirBnB to stay in. Of course it didn't feel at all like Thanksgiving, and quite frankly last year we weren't really up for Thanksgiving anyway, but it was still a great time)
posted by DingoMutt at 10:28 PM on November 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I’d probably assess the rest of the orphan population amongst my friends and have a big potluck. Maybe with Cards Against Humanity and pie.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 11:06 PM on November 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

My wife and I are on our own this year too and pretty much have the exact same plans as DingoMutt/wife and we are super excited for it.
posted by Captain_Science at 2:46 AM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

A suggestion from a Cincinnatian:

Have Thanksgiving at home on Thursday. On Friday, drive 1.5 hours to Columbus and hangout. When you're ready, drive 1.5 hours to Athens, OH. There's lots to do in that area, though I have no idea how lodging will be that weekend, although there are a lot of roadside motels. Saturday, drive the 3 hours from Athens back to SW Ohio on Route 32 and stop by to see the Serpent Mound on the way.

I think this would be fun, maybe not relaxing!
posted by girlmightlive at 5:22 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just so you know, flying on Thanksgiving Day is actually not that bad. I flew up to Boston from VA on Thanksgiving Day about 10 years ago for a funeral. There were approximately 5 people on the plane (built for 100 or so). We all moved up to first-class and had a very enjoyable flight.
posted by kuanes at 5:55 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Since you mention you've been busy, and it doesn't sound like you're craving travel, I'd suggest sticking close to home and doing what brings you joy that you don't usually have time for.

Thursday could be all about food. If you enjoy cooking, spend the day pottering around the kitchen. If you don't like it, arrange to pick up food the day before and just reheat as necessary. The rest of the weekend could be further afield, but having time for doing stuff like reading for pleasure for hours, having a long bath, going for a nice walk, window shopping, are all things that can be hard to make time for everyday.

If it were me, I wouldn't travel on a notoriously busy holiday weekend if I didn't have to.
posted by lettezilla at 6:03 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Turkey sandwich picnic lunch on a country drive and then home to watch movies and drink port.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:11 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

As someone who often spends Thanksgiving alone with my spouse, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to prepare a Thanksgiving meal without having to accommodate anyone else's food restrictions or preferences. It's a very relaxed process with no one to please but ourselves (and the dog). With the luxury of several days in a row with no outside commitments, we play board games, eat leftovers, watch old movies, eat leftovers, go for long walks, and eat leftovers.
posted by DrGail at 6:14 AM on November 17, 2017

Every other year, for similar "the extended family is with other people" reasons, I've been spending Thanksgiving totally alone. I cannot begin to tell you how awesome this is.

DingoMutt has it exactly right- this is your chance to make whatever you want to eat. Would you miss turkey? Go ahead and make it, and having only two of you means that you don't have to fight anyone for all the white/dark meat (whatever your preference). Always secretly hated Aunt Ethel's green bean casserole? Good news, you don't have to make it! Love mashed potatoes? Make double what you'd usually have! Are you secretly not all that into turkey? Make leg of lamb instead! Do you really just deep down only like pies? Make a bunch of different kinds of pies and have that be all you eat. Stay in your jammies all day, watch trash TV, take naps every couple hours if you feel like it, eat what you want and save the dishes till Friday.

In years past I've done the full-on traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I've done such a dinner but with Cornish Hen or chicken instead, I've made a crock-pot turkey stew, I've made a lamb stew with butternut squash, and I think this year I'm making turkey paprikash plus a shit-ton of vegetable sides because I get my CSA box this coming weekend. And I am also not going to get dressed all day, I'll stay inside listening to old records and watching old movies and playing video games and knitting and whatever my whim dictates at any given moment. If I feel like taking a walk, I will. If I feel like taking a bubble bath, I will.

You only have yourselves to please. So you can be a little selfish and decadent.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:36 AM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

My wife and I had a nice Thanksgiving alone two years ago. We raked leaves, did a turkey breast rather than a whole turkey for dinner, and spent a lot of time drinking wine and listening to an Audible production. We missed having the kids home, of course, but it ended up being a very relaxing day.
posted by maurice at 7:07 AM on November 17, 2017

I know you asked about Thanksgiving, but I think my experience with Christmas could apply. For several years, my husband and I have been alone at home on Christmas and it's been wonderful. Here's a list of things we've done to make it special in different ways:
- Avoided scratch cooking and instead put together a relish plate and a wide variety of heat & serve appetizers. We continued to enjoy them throughout the week with plenty of salads and veggies. Were you curious about those frozen samosas, spinach pinwheels or cheese-filled pretzel bites? Get 'em!
- Made fancy drinks that we wouldn't normally drink with family. Champagne cocktails! Manhattans! Umbrella drinks!
- Planned hikes/walks as if we were tourists. Are there local attractions that you've never gotten around to visiting? Why not go? Is there a park or preserve within an easy drive that you've always been meaning to check out?
- Used YouTube, your local library or streaming services to show each other favorite or vaguely remembered movies, TV shows or even commercials from our childhoods. You can fall down a delightful rabbit hole of laughing at things that delighted, scared or intrigued you in the past.
- Enjoyed post-dinner drinks at a fancy restaurant with a bar. We watched the bustle of families leaving full from their dinners without being in the craziness of the dinner rush. We have found the waitstaff and bartenders are cheerful (it's almost the end of the night!) and eager to chat and enjoy a quiet moment after the frantic day of slinging holiday meals.
posted by annaramma at 10:44 AM on November 17, 2017

We do this every year! We usually make tacos, come up with a fun cocktail, and explore one inventive and one more standard pie recipe.

People who celebrate in the area swing by for a digestif and pie after family meals, and we usually end up having the best of both worlds.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:06 PM on November 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everyone! We ended up going off the grid to a high-up cabin in the wilderness not too far from home. I went ahead and made the whole Thanksgiving spread before we left. We packed it in, and then we spent three days and three nights eating, reading, sleeping, snuggling, watching movies, taking walks, and getting in and out of the hot tub. It turned out to be pretty perfect, I have to say. Don't tell our kids ; ).
posted by pinkacademic at 7:47 PM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

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