Every year for Thanksgiving, whether or not we have guests, Jill and I order a ready-to-eat meal from Cracker Barrel. Their turkey, gravy, and dressing is really good, and with it we usually get ham, mac & cheese, fried apples, baby carrots, and some biscuits and sourdough bread. We preorder and set a pickup time on Thanksgiving Day, and then we just drive to the back of the restaurant, pay, and they bring the food out to our car.
Though over the years we’ve had some disappointments as they sometimes get stuff wrong:
- one year they burned the dressing
- another year they forgot to give us any gravy, and I had to go back for it and wait in the line of cars again
- and then there was the year that a family with a huge order decided to show up several hours before their scheduled time, and the restaurant cleaned itself out filling their order, so I had to sit in a line of cars for something like 2-3 hours until they were had enough food for our order
So this year, being just Jill and myself celebrating alone, we decided to simplify things. We ordered a tray of 3.5 pounds of turkey, a quart of dressing, and a side of gravy. Meanwhile, Jill made mashed potatoes, mac & cheese (in our Instant Pot), green bean casserole, and corn casserole. (Yes, this is an awful lot of food, but Thanksgiving is a great excuse to have LOTS of leftovers that take care of our meal needs for the following week.)
Cracker Barrel still got stuff wrong.
- I drove to the restaurant and followed the signs for “Holiday Meal Pickup” to go around the right side and get in the line of cars
- 20 minutes later, the woman checking each person in got to my car window – “Oh, you’re in the wrong line … you want a takeout order, you need to drive around the left side of the restaurant, look for a little blue tent”
- I went to the little blue tent – “Pull into one of those to-go spaces, we’ll be right with you”
- “We have your food ready, we’ll bring it out shortly”
- “Actually no, you’re in the wrong place, the check-in line to the right of the restaurant handles holiday meal orders, go back and get in line, there’s only like one car in line right now, Kim will take care of you”
- I went back to the right side of the restaurant; there were seven cars in line in front of me
- “What are you doing back here? Let me see your order…” I showed her my phone – she took it and accidentally hit delete on the email receipt – I had to undelete it, then she took my phone and started walking away with it before I hollered for her to please bring it back
- After waiting a few more minutes, they finally brought my order out to me … except instead of a large tray of of turkey, it was about half that amount and the rest of the tray was more dressing … so along with the extra quart of dressing, we now had an embarrassing amount of dressing
- I checked with Jill who said she had specifically made a point of ordering the larger tray of turkey, so looks like the web site screwed up and put us down for a smaller turkey-and-dressing tray instead (and charging us for the smaller tray)
- I complained, and the manager came out with a copy of the receipt and showed me where it said we specifically ordered the smaller tray
- I asked, “So can I get more turkey?”
- A few minutes later the manager came back with a large tray of turkey – “Here you go, Happy Thanksgiving”
- I thanked her and left before she could change her mind
So for future years I think it’s time to start seeking out other sources of a ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meal. (And no, cooking a turkey is not in our wheelhouse.) And I hope that in future years we’ll be able to get back to sharing Thanksgiving meals with friends and family.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!