Thanks given

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Thanksgiving has never been an especially important holiday in my family—more of a brief interlude between Halloween and Christmas, or a moment of respite before the big push at the end of any given fall semester.

This year, we had a small crew—just me, my mom, my girlfriend, Margot, and our three kids, Clifford, Josephine and Viktoria. We’re all busy, and no one felt like cooking a big meal—well, maybe Josephine did, but she’s 10, and the rest of us didn’t feel like eating quesadillas and peanut butter sandwiches.

We decided we’d try one of the big casino buffets. That’s a quintessential Reno experience that—despite living here for the majority of my life—I had never done before. I mean, sure, I’ve eaten at casino buffets a few times over the years, but never on a popular holiday like Thanksgiving.

We decided to hit up Toucan Charlie’s in the Atlantis. We arrived around 4 p.m. and discovered perhaps the longest line of people I’ve ever seen. It started outside the restaurant and curled, wound and weaved all around the casino floor. Following the line back to the end was like a never-ending journey. I kept thinking we were getting close to the end, but then there would be a bend and more glum faces, resigned to their fate—a purgatory of faint cigar smoke, rattling slot machines and hunger. After a while, as disorienting as a casino floor can be, I began to suspect that we we were walking in an infinite loop. I started scrutinizing the faces, wondering if perhaps I’d seen them earlier.

When Margot joined us at the back of this eternal queue, she asked, “Is this the line for Space Mountain?”

We were told it would take about four hours. So we said, screw this, and headed over to the Sky Terrace Oyster Bar, the Atlantis’ seafood restaurant. We only had to wait about 10 minutes, and then had an excellent dinner, however seasonally anachronistic it might have been.