“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “Thanksgiving” Chapter 73
By Bruce Williams
The greatest of holidays is here—one centered on three of my favorite things in the world: food, family and football. I like to host it, too…that way I can make sure that the main TV is locked onto the NFL all day (I usually try to bet on Detroit and Dallas with the points—it’s a tradition because they always play on Turkey Day), much to my brother-in-law’s chagrin. I just picked up a monster gobbler at Costco—plenty to feed a dozen guests and leave lots of leftovers for sandwiches. People from other countries never understand our fascination with this gigantic dry bird, but I dig it all—the stuffing, potatoes, yams, pies and the cornucopia of fall vegetables that’ll line our tables and fill all of our plates.
We have air hockey and ping pong tables set up in our garage for a little competition and an opportunity to burn off some of the 5,000 calories we’re set to consume. Scrabble is a big part of our gatherings, and I always make time for a game with my mom and a couple of others. I hear plumbers refer darkly and ominously to the day after the holiday as “Brown Friday”—their biggest day of the year. I usually set the over/under on clogged toilets at our get togethers at 1.5, and ready the plunger about an hour after the main meal has been served as the usual suspects begin to mill about sheepishly in the hallway near the restroom, clutching their abdomens with looks of concern painted across their ashen faces.
My favorite movie—“Planes, Trains and Automobiles”—is also Thanksgiving-centered, and Michelle and I usually dial it up in bed after all the food’s been wrapped up, the floors have been swept and mopped, the second load of dishes are running in the dishwasher and all the gigantic pots and pans are air drying to the right of the kitchen sink. Watching Del Griffith from American Light & Fixture peddle his shower curtain rings, much to this dismay of the fussy Neal Page never gets old. It’s usually about that time that I have my second piece of pie—either apple or pumpkin smothered in whipped cream—before I slip into a food coma for the rest of the night.
In the old days I used to eat three heaping platefuls, then lie on my back on the floor writhing in pain and moaning with regret. I don’t have the willpower anymore for that kind of garish display. I was in the habit of playing football beforehand to work up an appetite, too—usually tackle with a group of buddies. One Thanksgiving a few of us were left to our own devices and managed to cook a small bird. We had a few more friends over later for an unintended party that got a little out of hand, but that’s a story for another column. The turkey was surprisingly moist, though—even if we did leave the giblet packet in the cavity until halfway through its oven time before we figured out what was causing all the smoke.
And Thanksgiving always kicks off the Christmas season. I had some guys come and string up the Christmas lights already, so that’s been taken off my plate. My wife is out now buying a second tree for upstairs—a “flocked” version that she can’t quit raving about. I think I know what I’m getting her for a gift already, the kids’ll soon be working on their own wish lists, and my work will get busier and busier as the Big Day approaches.
Hopefully this year no one will bring up incendiary politics or soapbox their piety over their own sterling thankfulness—and I have the ambition that open-mouthed burps and double-dipping will be unanimously viewed as the miscarriages of justice that they really are. I hope no one tries to switch the channel to the parade, because the only thing worse than witnessing a parade first-hand is watching one being narrated on television, “…and next up we have the local Shriners, celebrating 103 years of uninterrupted fez-wearing…”
And there’s always the bounteous table where someone feels the need to pinpoint what exactly everybody’s so thankful for. I think the only way to make them stop is to lie and say that you’re just so grateful for them personally…leaving the complimented recipient blushing and bristling with what they probably feel is finally their deserved comeuppance.
So enjoy your family this holiday season. Give everybody a big bear hug, even the guy still wearing his MAGA cap (maybe especially him). Practice patience in all things and most importantly—slow down and drink it all in. I know it’s all a lot of work, but the holidays give greater meaning to our lives and for that I actually am quite thankful. Gobble gobble.