The Early Bird

As we all know, the early bird gets the … chocolate. In preparation of Thanksgiving — hey! it’s not that far away! — I’ve finally found the perfect Thanksgiving Day turkey. Well, the perfect one would be a pet turkey named Henry, but since the condo board likely wouldn’t go for that one (ugh!), this alternative, I must say, is pretty damned awesome. I make no promises whatsoever on whether or not this gem actually makes it to Thanksgiving.

click the pic to see where you can get your own!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

The holidays are coming. And so are my relatives. It’s time to test that great annual sociology thesis: “Is it possible to compress numbers of humans who are related by blood or marriage into a confined space for several hours, fill them with carbohydrates, tryptophan, and alcohol, and not have them tear into one another over any number of disputed points of view?”  Generally, no.

At least that’s been my experience.  No matter what the intentions for a peaceful dinner are, no matter what pre-victual agreements have been signed, festive family get-togethers usually devolve into raised voices, hurt feelings, and shouts of, “Susan, grab the kids.  We’re leaving right now!”

Here’s the problem. Chances are we’re going to continue having holidays to celebrate. Moreover, and probably against good common sense, we’ll more than likely have family over to share the chaos joy of the season. Unless Prohibition should miraculously come back, alcohol will be served. And that folks, is the tinder and kindling for a family feud. That’s why I’ve developed a guide to help diffuse what I call “Holiday Hot Spots.”

I’ve found that flare-ups usually occur when one of the following topics is brought up:

  • Politics – this one is usually a “given.” I mean, there’s a reason why they say never to discuss politics in polite company. That’s because it makes people want to throttle each other. This year I’ve put “Politics” at the top of the list because of what’s going on in Washington, D.C. If I’m in the kitchen and I hear people shouting, “Drain the Swamp,” “Lock him up,” “But what about Crooked Hilary,” “El Cheeto Grande,”or “Covfefe,” I know that I have to run into the living room screaming, “Oh my god, somebody knocked over Jimmy’s terrarium full of black widow spiders! Check your legs! CHECK YOUR LEGS!” I find that this stops the arguing, dead in its tracks. As an added plus, everyone gets a little pre-dinner work-out.
  • The Media – rather than bursting into flames right from the start, these arguments usually simmer until they finally reach a flash point. If I hear the words Hannity, Fake News, Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly, Lamestream Media, or Kellyanne Conway, I know that I have to spring into action, like immediately, in order to waylay any punches that might be thrown overly heated debate that might occur. I’ve found that by saying something to attract everyone’s attention while confusing them at the same time works very well, and makes them forget what was causing the argument in the first place. I’m good at this. Just this past Thanksgiving, I casually walked into the family room and cheerfully said, “I decided to change things up a little this year.  Turkey sounded sooooo boring.  I hope you all like muskrat. It was free, just lying there on the side of the road. How could I resist? They say it tastes like badger.” It got their attention, yet no-one knew how to respond. And there, with their collective mouths agape, the bickering ended.
  • The Outcast – most families have one. It’s the family member who is currently “on the outs” with the rest of the family. Their crime could be imagined, “I hear that he dates loose women.” Or, it could be real, “I’m glad she’s not here to get drunk and set the Christmas tree on fire again.” Whatever the reason…a prior engagement or perhaps a moment of mental clarity…they “weren’t able to come this year.”  Not being there to defend himself or herself, they suffer (albeit, in absentia) the majority of the verbal abuse from the family who is gathered. I mean, right? This entertainment usually keeps everyone occupied for quite a while, and all is right with the world. That is until someone decides (usually with vindictive glee) that enough is enough and points out a peccadillo of someone who is actually present and within earshot or brings up a decades old story that is best left untold. Then it’s true confessions time, and not in a good “truth or dare” kind of way. Friends tell me that I should just do the “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” speech when this happens. However, I find that I can quickly diffuse things by setting the Christmas tree on fire. Again.

 

Another Year, Another Thanksgiving Tradition

I believe it is becoming a Thanksgiving Day tradition — and if it’s not, I hereby make it one — for me to share my favorite movie scene, one that embodies the Thanksgiving Day spirit…or at least the spirit that dwells in my house. So while I wish you all a truly blessed and happy Thanksgiving, without further adieu, may I introduce Ms. Wednesday Addams…at her best. Happy Thanksgiving from me to you — Addams Family style.

 

Happy-Merry Hallowgivingchristmas

Have you been to the stores lately? Have you!? It was bad enough when the stores were putting out their Halloween candy in July.  July, people. But now, now our treasured holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are being merged into one mega-holiday season. I don’t know if this phenomenon has hit your area yet, but in my town the stores have Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations in adjacent aisles. Really retailers?  Just why?

There can be only answer: money. Retail stores will do 30% of their annual business during the “Christmas Season.” It makes sense to make the Christmas Season last for almost 70 days.  Even though the habit is being dialed back, many large retailers are now even open on Thanksgiving Day, denying their employees anything to be thankful for except overtime pay…and even that is not a guarantee given the existence of sneaky Scrooge-like scheduling gurus.

In a stroke of extreme irony, stores now have mega-sales on what is now known as Black Friday; the day after Thanksgiving. People wait in line all night to be among the first to buy something, anything that is on sale. On Thursday they give thanks for what they have, on Friday they are savagely punching and fighting people to get an X-Box or flat screen TV.  Finishing off the Thanksgiving weekend is White Monday. This is the online shopper’s day to stay planted in front of a computer searching for audacious online deals. Using this logic, I expect to see Magenta Tuesday for people to have their own Holiday Garage Sales.

Although, I will interject here – one of my favorite concepts is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a day of actual GIVING – to charities big and small…so Magenta Tuesday better back the hell off.

I don’t want to sound curmudgeonly, but I really feel that the flattening of the traditional holiday “spikes” turns the last quarter of the year into an amorphous blob of festive displays, shopping guilt, jammed mall parking lots, and a false fear that I might forget to buy a gift for someone.

Someone somewhere is bound to capitalize on this frenzied commercialism by inventing color-coded bins for us to stash our stashes of gifts and decorations: Orange and Black for Halloween; Brown and Orange for Thanksgiving; and of course, Red and Green for Christmas.  This will allow us to keep order in our frenetic final days of the year. Sheesh, I can feel the stress coming on already.

Of course, this begs the question, “When will the madness end?” I don’t want to be forced to buy a brown bin with leaf decor for all the Autumnal Equinox goodies, or a pink bin with red hearts for all my Valentine’s Day gifts.

Am I being unreasonable? I just want to focus on Halloween until it’s time to focus on Thanksgiving.  When that’s over, I can set my sights on getting into the Christmas Spirit.

 

Thanksgiving Tradition

So how long must one carry forth with a yearly ritual in order for it to be considered a tradition? I’m not sure, but I do know that I’ve posted this Thanksgiving morsel for my your, your, I meant your entertainment since I started this blog and personally I feel such exhaustive dedication should count. So. I’m proud to present my traditional holiday offering of the delectable Addams Family Thanksgiving à la Wednesday Addams . Enjoy.

 

Thanksgiving Preparations

There are certain staples for every Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey? Check. Cranberry sauce? Check. Pumpkin pie? Check. Arguments with family members over politics? Check and check. Let’s face it, even though we know it’s a bad idea politics and Thanksgiving go hand in hand. Inevitably after a couple few several glasses of wine, we have our disagreements on where our country is heading, we re-evaluate what we thought we knew about our close relatives, maybe we lose a little respect for some family members, then dinner ends and we get on with our lives. This year, though…oy.

The discussions about what’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might get a little more heated than normal. To say that this past political season has been divisive is a bit of an understatement. Bring up the topic of gun control, abortion, or foreign policy and watch out. Your Robin turns into your Joker. Your Garfunkel morphs into your Axl Rose. Suddenly, the person you call family begins snarling, cursing your name, and sometimes just saying downright hateful things right in your face – viciously arguing their views. Don’t even get me started on the third-grade level name-calling. Ugh.

Thanksgiving is frustrating enough without politics, don’t you think? First off, the hours of intense cooking (often under harsh scrutiny by someone else at the table who thinks they’re mashed potato/stuffing/green bean casserole recipe is far better than yours) are for what? Ten minutes of actual eating? Or should I say inhaling? Then, there’s the cleanup. The mountains of dishes coated in congealed fat and butter take forever to clean. The “eating” part of the event is barely a blip compared to the pre-meal planning and post-meal de-cluttering. Which just doesn’t seem fair if you ask me. But then I love food more than I love just about anything. Yeah, I know. I need help.

This year I’m going to try to get a seat at the kid’s table where the conversation is sure to be light and I will no doubt learn a new joke about bodily functions for my ever-growing repertoire. Not to mention they don’t care if you’re a messy eater. Hell, they are too! AND they’re allowed to be picky about what they eat. Now that’s right up my alley. Plus, PLUS — they don’t know what wine is and won’t give you a side-eye when you keep guzzling the “happy juice.” Oh yeah. The kids’ table it is!