I’m usually ambivalent about official or socially mandated holidays. “You shall celebrate XYZ on such-and-such date” prompts the response, "I'll celebrate what or whom I please in my own time for my own reasons, thank you." As a practical matter, though, there is an advantage to observing the conventional days: other people are more likely to be off from work, and so are much more likely to show up to your party. Besides, in the case of Thanksgiving, I actually like turkey.
For the past decade, I’ve had Thanksgiving at my house. It is the one major meal that I personally cook – the turkey, one other critter (lamb or ham usually), and a couple of sides anyway: I buy some additional items pre-prepared. Obviously I’m not vegetarian, though invariably one or two guests turn out to be, so I make accommodations for them, too. I thereby maintain a reputation as chef when in fact my oven gets little use the rest of the year. The stealthy way to be cheap is to be lavish on rare occasion. It is really vastly harder and more admirable to cook on a small scale daily than to go large scale once per year; I appreciate those who do, but I just don’t want to work that hard.
Conventional families are less common than they once were. I don’t have one (anymore), and neither do most of my friends, so an eclectic bunch of a dozen or so always shows up at the table. This year the guests ranged from ages 20 to 80 and hailed from five countries (US, Canada, Lithuania, Morocco, and the UK). Two I met for the first time on Thursday (great to meet you, Amanda and Michelle, and I expect both of you back again), and two (hi, Aunt Diane and Tim) actually are extended family. Oddly enough, the mix worked socially, and a post-meal game of Scruples revealed our various ways of looking at things. This is the new normal. It’s rather nice, too, even if Norman Rockwell never painted it.