At some point, you're likely to find yourself facing Thanksgiving with no family in town and no ticket home. Chances are, you're in good company -- Anchorage is the first stop for a lot of newcomers to the state and "home" is often, at minimum, a three-and-a-half-hour flight away.
As a result, this is a friendly place when it comes to friends tagging along to the big dinner, so scoring an invitation shouldn't be difficult. But perhaps you want to take a break from the traditional sit-down this year. It's no reason to be morose -- go solo or grab some family-free friends and try the following.
Along with Dad's fresh cranberry relish and Mom's turkey, Thanksgiving dinner can often come with a heaping side of holiday stress. Take this opportunity to get back to the spirit of holiday -- eating whatever you want and can afford. As Plymouth colonist Edward Winslow wrote in 1621, the point of the first Thanksgiving was to "in a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors." The Pilgrims rejoiced with venison and corn porridge, but perhaps you want to celebrate with pizza and scotch while watching football or trashy movies. It's your day to indulge.
If you want the turkey but don't want to operate an oven, buy some of the sliced kind and some cranberry sauce and cream cheese so you can skip to the best part: turkey-leftover-sandwiches. Can't bear to go without mashed potatoes and gravy? A lot of stores will be selling these and other sides. This year Sullivan's Steakhouse downtown will sell traditional sides to-go on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Many restaurants close on Thanksgiving, but many others cater to those who don't do the at-home thing (and requisite cleaning up). From fine dining to buffet lines, there are options for dining out Nov. 28. In fact, enough people eat out on Thanksgiving that restaurants often sell out, so be sure to call ahead for reservations if possible. There are a few classic dining-out Thanksgiving options in Anchorage, but be sure to call your favorite restaurant and check whether they'll be serving (just make sure to tip extra nicely when you go).
Simon & Seafort's has a turkey dinner for $25.95 per person. It includes free-range turkey and the traditional sides. Pumpkin pie comes separately at $6.95 a slice. If you're more in the mood for prime rib, salmon or something else non-seasonal, they'll be offering many of their normal menu options as well. Call 274-3502 for reservations and information.
Spenard's Millennium Hotel will be serving up a Thanksgiving buffet from 10-3 p.m. In addition to Thanksgiving fare, there will be prime rib, salmon, pork loin and other options. The buffet costs $49 for adults and $25 for children ages 6-12. It's free for children age 5 and younger. Call 243-2300 for more information.
In terms of getting a lot of food for your dollar, it's hard to beat The Golden Corral. They'll have a buffet with the Thanksgiving dishes, plus pizza, shrimp, steak and something called the "Triple Fountain Yum!" -- for $12.99. See goldencorral.com for details.
It's hard to feel lonely when you're helping people in need, and there is plenty of help needed when the holidays roll around. Social service groups and shelters are almost all seeking donations of food and supplies, including turkeys, roasting pans, canned corn and cranberry sauce, store-bought pies and other T-Day staples. Some are also looking for volunteers.
On Thanksgiving Day, The Salvation Army will cook up meals and deliver them to the elderly and people who can't get around easily. They need volunteers to help assemble and deliver meals starting Thursday morning. Food donations can be dropped off at the McKinnell House (1712 A Street), Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. from now through Nov. 26. Call Deb Comiskey at 349-0613 for more information and to volunteer.
Bean's Café will host its annual Thanksgiving dinner at the 1101 East Third Ave. facility. Ken Miller, director of development, said Bean's is looking for food donations and volunteers a couple days before Thanksgiving, when the kitchen will be doing the bulk of the prep work. See beanscafe.org for more information on ways to help.