How to have a good Thanksgiving at work


Shutterstock | Brent HofackerShutterstock | Brent Hofacker

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that brings a potluck. Unfortunately, nobody is ever as good a cook as you are, so you end up eating questionable turkey and gummy mashed potatoes. Worse still, if you don’t have a potluck, you’re stuck with whatever the hospital cafeteria offers. Here are three simple suggestions for making it a better day, at least food-wise.

1. Bring your lunch. Make your favorite foods, regardless of nutritional value. If macaroni and cheese is your jam, include a serving of that. Love chef’s salad? Concoct the most amazing one ever, putting all the toppings in separate containers so they don’t get soggy. Assemble it at your desk, or in the breakroom, to the awe and envy of your colleagues. If what you love more than life itself is ice cream, stash a couple of ice cream bars in a plain container in the unit’s freezer and enjoy them on that day. Make it memorable. There’s nothing better on a day you don’t really want to work than food you’re really looking forward to.

2. America is a nation of immigrants, so why not have a multinational potluck? Your Filipino coworkers can bring adobo while the Indians in the group provide samosas or papadum or biryani. If you’re an Average American, dive into your heritage and provide rice pudding with cherry sauce (Scandinavian), bread pudding (English), a salade composée (French; use only the freshest vegetables and barely cook them), or greens and grits and purple hull peas (African-American). First Nations foods can include roasted corn and squash. There’s a lot you can do, and many of these foods can be prepared a day or so ahead to make things easier. What’s most fun is that everybody gets to try something they’re not familiar with. (“What’s a grit?” asked my South African coworker.) If you only work with other Average Americans, have everybody bring the most popular food from their home state. If you’re lucky, you’ll get barbecue.

3. Something we did last year was Thanksgiving 2.0—and it was a huge hit. We had a smoked turkey breast rather than the baked bird, roasted potatoes with garlic rather than mashed, a cranberry salad that included walnuts and feta cheese, and some sort of incredible curry with cauliflower and green beans in it. The only traditional dishes were the pies, and those were baked in deep casserole dishes and served with ice cream. Everybody got their Thanksgiving fix, but a little differently. It saved us from the purgatory of that casserole with the fried onions on top. Everybody got to indulge their creative side as well.

However you spend your Thanksgiving, remember the most important thing about the day: that you’re not in the hospital bed. Have a happy Thanksgiving, and may your pumpkin pie always set up properly!

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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