Worst. Thanksgiving. Ever.

Disclaimer: I had a really great Thanksgiving this year. In fact, it was all I could have hoped for. This is the story of Thanksgiving 2007. I know there are many, many folks out there who had it much worse than I did. I also know that I was lucky to even be in the position I was to have such a terrible experience. Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is my pity party story, and I’m rolling with it.

Worst. Thanksgiving. Ever.

In 2007, we had just moved to our dream location, which was a major change in our lives. Though this was fulfilling a goal that we had been anticipating for some time, actually realizing it was astounding. It also involved moving 1500 miles away from our beloved friends and family.

We had always celebrated Thanksgiving in high fashion: not only enjoying the turkey and all the trimmings, but friends and family gathered at our house every year…we’d have anywhere from 12 to 28 people to dinner. The celebration started the night before with the pie baking and fondue making…which flowed right into watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and soon after, the first arrrivals. While we don’t miss the fuss, the cost, or the clean-up, we very much miss the company and smiling faces of those nearest and dearest to us.

So, we were determined to do something absolutely wonderful and memorable for our first Thanksgiving in our home area. As a treat to ourselves, we would go out for dinner, thus avoiding all the cooking and bother, for once. After much searching (and determining that no place in our town would be open that day) we opted to spend Thanksgiving in a smaller town about 45 minutes away, and eat at the wonderfully decorated, charming restaurant where J and parents had eaten regularly for Thanksgiving years ago: Ye Olde Kendall Inn. Even the name was charming. We were really looking forward to this, and booked a studio room on the premises, so we could enjoy the full day.

We ended up running a little behind schedule Thanksgiving Day, and showed up 10 minutes late for our reservation. We realized we were going to be tardy, and so had called ahead to alert them, even though it was only 10 minutes. The restaurant assured us there was no problem, and to come on ahead. Well, when we showed up, they had already given our table away (10 minutes late WITH a phone call??) but not to worry, because they had another table for us. In the back room. Unheated. No charm. No decorations. With tables of silent, non-conversing, mournful-looking people.

We were already a little unnerved, but what could we do? We sat down and waited. 20 minutes later, a waitress arrived, and distractedly took our drink order (we needed to repeat it three times). 15 minutes later, the drinks appeared. 20 minutes after that, the food arrived (from a pre-set Thanksgiving menu) that consisted of very small portions (they must have been ladling with a teaspoon) and all of it was cold. We were feeling sorry for the waitress (who looked quite distressed the entire time) so did not hassle her too much, but we did request eating utensils twice. I wound up begging for just a fork. After doing our best to choke down the cold, and at times hard, food we requested pie. The waitress truly looked alarmed, and ran off, returning with a single to-go container, stating that was all they had. With no choice left to us, we paid the check, picked up the small box, and left to go check into the room.

After putting our suitcases down and admiring the room, we decided to go have a drink at the bar. We re-entered the restaurant…and it was as though we had entered the Twilight Zone. All traces of people, wait staff, and food had vanished. The bar was closed. We had thought to eat a real meal (we were still a little hungry from the much-left-to-be-desired Thanksgiving dinner) at the restaurant. Closed. We walked back to the check-in desk to ask where we might find food. Closed. Seriously. So we went back to our room to regroup and think.

We had not seen a single other person since our check-in, so we decided to take a walk around the town and see if we couldn’t find something to eat. Nothing. All businesses were closed, and there was not another person to be seen anywhere. No cars on the streets. Nothing. The temperature dropped 30 degrees since we had arrived in town, but we only had our dress-up clothes (we had wanted to look nice for our Thanksgiving dinner) and the wind had started up. I am describing this the best I can so that you may form a picture of the two of us, staggering in the wind, shivering through the cold, desperately looking for even a gas station that would sell us a bag of chips, or something. Nothing. Finally, we went back to the room, put on our pajamas, and decided to eat the pieces of pie in front of the TV. The TV did not work. The container held just one piece of pie, and that was the thinnest piece I had ever seen. Really. At its widest point, it measured a scant 3/4 of an inch. We shared bites, shaking our heads, but figured that was the worst. Oh, no. not yet.

We went to bed, turning out the lights. About an hour later, we heard heavy boots step onto the porch and stomp their way to the door. Then we heard a key in the lock. Then we heard the doorknob turning. Yelling at him to stop, the unknown man opened the door, paused, then said, “Sorry,” and left! I immediately called the front desk, wondering if I should be dialling the police. The front desk answered, and I stated that someone had tried to come in our room! She answered that it was okay, and that it was a mistake. When I pushed the point, she said it was the security guy. I finally asked, “Well, do you think he will come back?” She laughed, and assured me he wouldn’t. We slept fitfully, to say the least.

The next morning, we found out that when we had checked in, the desk clerk had not indicated on the paperwork we had arrived, so the security guy was going to unlock it for us and turn on some lights. After describing our stay, the desk clerk stated that the whole town closes down for Thanksgiving, and that we were told that when we made the reservations. I told her we weren’t told this. She said she always tells people this when they make reservations for Thanksgiving. When I assured her we had NOT been told this, she checked the paperwork and discovered that she, herself, had not taken our reservation. It was…wait for it…the same turkey who had not properly checked us in the night before. I did ask if we could get a free breakfast because of our experience. She said they weren’t set up for anything like that. So we paid for our first real meal in almost 24 hours. It was cold. We weren’t surprised. What a colossal waste of food, time, effort, and money.

In retrospect, it is evident that the restaurant was way overbooked. Clearly they ran out of tables…and food. Why they were so unwilling to accommodate us, I’ll never properly understand: the food was not cheap. The room was really not cheap. Why not provide unsuspecting Thanksgiving patrons with a little basket of crackers, popcorn, water? Who knows. I do know we’ll never be back.

Every Thanksgiving experience from then on can only be an improvement!


2 thoughts on “Worst. Thanksgiving. Ever.

  1. Aw .. doesn’t pay to live a life of giving, does it? What an experience and should be shared with locals. They probably don’t care and will miss all your friends and former students who would flock there had it been a good experience. But then, at the time they didn’t want business, probably did share Thanksgiving mainly with families. What do they do these days with all the shopping mania? Oh, and did the town sign secession papers? Sigh.

  2. No idea…actually, the shopping around here was fairly calm for the Friday, after. Maybe because some of the shopping started Thursday? Whatever will we do when Black Friday is on a Wednesday??

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