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!

Thanksgiving Madness

Ahhhh, the end of November. You know what that means. Thanksgiving is ready to spill its bountiful cornucopia all over us. Are you ready for the psychological obstacle course known as Thanksgiving dinner? Just like evergreen trees are to Christmas, gaudy cakes are to birthdays, pastel eggs are to Easter, and candy hearts are to Valentine’s Day, the family meal centered around turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce defines the holiday of Thanksgiving — yet it’s rarely as benign as a chalky pink piece of candy that says BE MINE.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having the generations all gathered around one table to laugh, share, and love. I love my family. Not only do I love them, they’re a hoot. Where do you think I get it from? But often coming along for the heartwarming ride is the knowledge that over wine, green bean casserole, and Haas Gooey Cake, I get to be put on trial yet again for that thing (or two or three) I did god knows how many years ago. And by this point so many of the stories brought up are so old that there’s probably more imagination in their re-telling than actual fact. Or so I like to say anyway. I mean, no one could be that bad when they were young, could they?

Thankfully, the holiday spirit that envelopes my family is plenty big enough to wash over many and my brother is often also the object of ridicule at these joyous functions. Believe me; I’m only too glad to share in the glow of the dinner table spotlight. Topics that are often revisited have to do with our childhood and our inspired attempts at killing each other or our driving our mother insane. I tell you, I cannot wait until my children are old enough for this holiday tradition and I can start to tell stories on them. Although quite frankly, looking back on it, I think my mother just has way more material to work with. Poor woman.

This Thanksgiving, to add to the joy, we’re going to throw three dogs into the mix as well. Oh, big deal you might say. Well, these dogs haven’t met yet, and being in my family, of course each one has its own little quirks…doggy eccentricities let’s say.

One of them is a mammoth of a German Shepherd puppy named Resi who is absolutely flippin’ adorable but a little shy and new to the family. She’ll have to quickly learn to hold her own against two brutal hell-hounds. They’re not the mighty, snarling beasts like at the end of Ghostbusters, but as you regular readers will know, my Rufus and Petra can be just as vicious as Zool’s protectors even if they are only about 5 pounds each with limited reach. They’ve fended off their fair share of UPS drivers through the window I’ll have you know, and I’ve yet to be murdered in my sleep, or taken hostage by the mailman thanks solely to my diminutive four-legged protectors.

Despite her size, Resi is still young and she’s afraid of new things, bless her heart. And when she sees a dreaded “new thing,” she tends to stand there and bark at it as puppies so often do. But so far, these new things haven’t been able to hop around and generally be annoying. Her encounters have been more on the inanimate side, like sculptured pigs sitting on an end table and the like. Well, that’s about to change.

Rufus really wants nothing more than to be friends with his four-legged cohorts, yet he has absolutely no sense of boundaries with other dogs so will do whatever he can to coerce them to play whether his attentions are wanted or not. He’s like that annoying little weasel who tries to steal chickens in the Looney Tunes cartoons who just won’t give up.  Or the kid whose name you learn in the restaurant because the mother is constantly “Rufus stop that, Rufus get down, Rufus leave him alone, Rufus stop licking her in the face for goodness sake!”

Petra, like Resi, is sometimes fearful of new things, and when she’s afraid, she also stands there and barks. Oh joy. I can see hear it now. “Battle of the Barks.” She has the additional quirk of wanting to burrow and hide when she’s very afraid. Under what, it doesn’t matter. Under furniture (whether she fits is irrelevant), under blankets, under people. Under something, under anything.

If our dinner table stays upright, I’ll eat my hat. I’m definitely taking bets on all hell breaking loose and the turkey going airborne. I think I may just come out of all this with some decent spending money.

Thinking about what’s to come as I write this blog I’m reminded of one other part of the holidays that I do quite enjoy…drinking. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit for that which is called wine. Without thee I know not what I would do.

Rice Krispy Thanksgiving (Or, Death to Humor)

Put a fork in it, it’s done. No, I’m not talking about the “turkey” pictured below. I’m talking about humor. I’m seriously beginning to think that the concept of comedy—at least in some people—has officially become extinct. I understand that telling a joke on the internet has different parameters than when you’re face to face with someone. You can’t rely on cadence, inflection, and nuance in general. You essentially have to point and say “this is the joke, people” because sarcasm is difficult to type out effectively. That all being said, some things posted are so blatantly for comedy that it astounds me how they can be taken seriously. Either people can no longer determine what is a joke (if it’s not delivered by the hilarious Conan O’ Brien, say) or they’re so over-sensitized that they shouldn’t be allowed online anyways.

Where did this bitter conclusion, that humor is dead, come from you ask? Take a look at the “turkey” again. I stumbled across this over on Facebook. A radio station posted it. Here’s the caption: “If you’re looking for a Gluten Free, Vegetarian Turkey for next week, try this Rice Krispy Treat turkey stuffed with M&M’s. Everybody’s happy.”

Funny, right? I had a good chuckle. And I figured other people would as well because it’s pretty witty. So I start perusing the comments and, good lord, the villagers came out with their pitchforks over this silly, silly turkey recipe! There were roughly 1,000 comments and an overwhelming amount of them were blasting the radio station for their audacious nutrition suggestion. The commenters were going off about how the turkey can’t possibly be gluten-free because Rice Krispies have barley malt as an ingredient. They condemned the post because marshmallows have gelatin and that’s not vegetarian. Then there were those who thought it was insensitive to suggest such a recipe because it will spread diabetes across the nation like wildfire.

First and foremost, let’s address the fact that: 1) There ARE gluten-free Rice Krispies. Go to the grocery store and check. They’re there. How do I know? My friend buys them for her gluten-free son. 2) Gelatin-free marshmallows DO exist. How do I know? I buy them! Plus, you can use Marshmallow Fluff as a substitute. It doesn’t contain gelatin either.

But the x’s and o’s of the recipe aren’t my chief concern. What’s really got me shaking my damn head is how so many people seem to have missed the obvious humor of it all. Neglecting facts is one thing. Not “getting” a joke is another. But the real kicker is how flippin’ obnoxious the commenters were in their remonstrations!

Have we really gotten to the point where we have to put disclaimers before any puny article we post? A big banner at the start that says, “Warning: The following piece contains a JOKE! Please do not read any further if you do not want to participate in humor.”

Me? I got the joke. But that’s not stopping me from taking the recipe at least a little seriously. Don’t worry, I’m not mad at the station. I’m just over here trying to figure out how the hell I can form those legs as perfectly as they did because I just figured out what I’m serving for Thanksgiving.

turkey rice krispies