Four days and counting … almost ready for lift-off … Roger … three days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and counting … Roger, you there? This thing on?

NASA sure would have quite the predicament if they didn’t have a flawless procedure for blast-off, right? Proper plans prevent problems. Although we don’t have many NASA engineers living in Racine, we do each have our own countdown to prepare for: Thanksgiving with the family.

The holiday of thanks happens to be in just four days. While the complications of a defective space shuttle launch slightly surpass the inconvenience of a thrown-together Thanksgiving game-plan for you and those in-laws you love so dearly, I have decided to take it upon myself to steer you in the direction of a fool-proof Thanksgiving meal.

Each year, I hear of more and more families disregarding the age-old tradition of enjoying Thanksgiving dinner within a home. While homemade is all well and good — and, frankly, preferred — it’s not the practical decision for every American family every single year.

So if your plan is “no plan,” you have stumbled upon the right article. We won’t let your Thanksgiving space shuttle tip over at blast-off, Racine!

The Dish — If you’re looking for a relaxed, clean atmosphere, look no further. Having just experienced this gem of a restaurant last week, I was impressed by the airy interior, the massive homemade menu, and the overall atmosphere. Bring the whole family from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. for their first annual Thanksgiving buffet at just $18/adult!

The Summit — This is a Thanksgiving staple in Racine and will no doubt have a packed parking lot come Thursday. With everything from leg of lamb to roasted pork loin to different salads and desserts and even a gourmet coffee bar, this is a grand plentiful feast! Make your reservations early!

The Pfister in Milwaukee — The breathtaking atmosphere of the hotel’s ballroom provides the perfect elegant destination for a cherished Thanksgiving with the family! The bountiful brunch (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) provides ample holiday cheer for all. From appetizers and entrées to side dishes and desserts, this brunch hits the spot at $65 per adult.

Meli’s Pancake House — This is where my family and I enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal last year! Yes, I ordered pancakes, and yes, I had turkey (bacon). My family and I spent the entire day moving me into my new condo, and we needed a quick meal — Meli’s fit the bill. It was quiet and service was splendid, as usual. Chocolate pancakes for Thanksgiving, what a beautiful thought!

Boathouse Pub & Eatery in Kenosha — I happen to know Jason, the owner of the Boathouse, and he goes above and beyond for Thanksgiving. It’s raved about in Kenosha! The endless buffet and dessert table is $19.95 per adult, and reservations are recommended.

The Peninsula in Chicago — The Thanksgiving buffet at this ritzy Michigan Avenue hotel had my family and I floored a few years ago; I still have dreams of the string quartet, decadent turkey, and seemingly thousands of fixings. Although this cost is much higher than a local joint, it’s worth every penny. A Thanksgiving splurge to remember!

Paige Weslaski, born and raised in Racine, is a Pepperdine University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in leadership. Paige, 25, has lived in New York, Los Angeles, Europe and Central America, and is now working as an account executive of a marketing company in Downtown Racine.

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