America! Most Americans are shocked and enraged when they realize that the rest of the world does not celebrate their bloated holiday. Get over it.
Black Friday Back in ancient times, the day after Thanksgiving was a quiet and friendly time. Most everyone was off work or out of school, so you slept in, you ate the delicious leftovers, and perhaps raked the last of the autumn leaves. Not anymore. Black Friday has become an ugly ritual that dominates the rest of the weekend, even encroaching on the sacred Thanksgiving itself. Thanks and blessings are replaced with greed and hysteria as millions of people trample each other to purchase crap they do not need. This event is an American disgrace.
Cranberry Sauce Tart and delicious, this holiday staple is the perfect side dish for the traditional turkey and dressing. Not much is better than a Sister Schubert Roll, dripping with butter, with a slice of cranberry sauce inside. Strangely, unlike its juice counterpart, this yummy jellied staple is only seen around Thanksgiving. While grocery shopping with the hordes, you notice cranberry sauce on sale, 3/$4.00. As you smugly unload your loot into the pantry, you uncover 2 dusty and almost expired cans that you purchased last year. Great job, genius.
Drinking Like Christmas, Thanksgiving is just another excuse to get hammered, with all that tasty food acting as meaningful buffer to your rising BAC. There is no beer here, just Late Harvest Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Jack Daniels, Maker’s Mark or Wild Turkey 101. You are at home and the family auto is safely parked in the garage. Eat and drink to your hearts content in this once a year, judgment-free zone.
Eating This is what it is all about. Turkey, dressing, giblet gravy, rolls, butter, cranberry sauce, green-bean casserole and yams. There are also the sides like Jello, stuffed celery and olives. There might be ambrosia, if there is anyone still alive that knows how to make this atrocity. No matter, it’s all here and then there is dessert. There will be no salad or broccoli on this sacred day. Enjoy the feast.
Football Back in the day, the annual Nebraska-Oklahoma football game was a much anticipated Thanksgiving event. This game was the high-water mark of the college football season, eclipsing even the New Year’s Bowls, of which there were only 6 or 7. College Football on TV was once a treat, a rare event. Now there are FORTY-ONE Bowl games, including crap like the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, and literally hundreds of games on TV every season. It’s all about the season.
Giblets Most people don’t want to look at, think about, or touch those dark, ugly and bloody lumps that come neatly packaged inside their beautiful turkey. The giblets include the gizzard, heart, liver, and the neck. I know, they are horrifying. If you still have a granny who has not made an escape to the grave, then you might have someone who knows how to make giblet gravy, with the organs, drippings, flour, onion, mushrooms and other seasonings. Properly made giblet gravy is wonderful. The turkey gave up its life, so you might as well enjoy all of it.
Ham Some idiots try to buck the trend, thinking that we have turkey every year, why not have something different? This is a huge mistake. I don’t care how expensive your Spiral Sliced pig is. Ham with dressing and giblet gravy? Oh, there are no giblets and no gravy either. This is one mistake that you will make only once as the whining and disappointment will linger long after your innovation has failed. Everyone hates you, and who can blame them?
Indians As the myth goes, the first Thanksgiving included our Native American friends. This is not true as the Iroquois Indians resented being left out of the first Pilgrim feast. So, after a massacre or two, a sit-down was necessary. To be fair, the Iroquois were notoriously picky eaters, so from the perspective of history, they had only themselves to blame.
Jello I have nothing against jello. I won’t go out of my way for it, but I don’t hate it. Jello is simple and jello is sweet, but during Thanksgiving something terrible happens to this once harmless gelatin. Because of Satan, I guess, little-old-ladies feel compelled to make these gawd-awful jello salads with cottage cheese, nuts, pineapple, pretzels, Froot Loops, polio vaccine, everything but office staplers go into jello. Wait, there is even a recipe for staplers and jello. No, I’m not kidding. Anyway, no one wants to eat that crap, especially with all the other goodies available. Just stop.
Kitchen The traditional gathering place for all parties and gatherings, the Kitchen assumes a special aura of magic at Thanksgiving. The aromas are irresistible and there are drinks and appetizers. You grab a deviled egg and wash it down with your first bourbon of the day. The cook is making the gravy now, so you know it will not be long before the feast. The kitchen is where it all begins. God loves us…for now.
Leftovers Thanksgiving is one time when the sequel is as good or better than the original. A cold turkey sandwich with mayo, and yes, a slice of cranberry sauce, is the closest this heathen will ever get to Heaven. Even after the hapless turkey carcass is stripped bare, there is always the prospect of things like turkey soup for days to come. Again, life is good.
Mayflower and Other Myths The traditional Thanksgiving origination stories are almost all wrong. School kids were taught that the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower and almost immediately sat down with friendly Indians for a Thanksgiving feast. Members of Plymouth 400, a nonprofit organization disagree. They contend that the Thanksgiving story began in 1614 when Tisquantum, known as Squanto, and other native people were captured, taken to Europe and sold as slaves. There is absolutely no evidence that Settlers and Native Americans ever sat down at all. Chances are the native population was already wiped out as the invaders brought religion, alcohol, syphilis, smallpox and plague as their housewarming gifts.
November Thanksgiving has always been celebrated in November. Well, no, this is yet another holiday myth. The original feast was after the harvest, in late September or early October. Thanksgiving was inserted on the 4th Thursday of the month, not at random, but as a natural springboard into Christmas, the most insane holiday of the year. Whoever pegged it on a Thursday was a genius, almost guaranteeing an extra holiday for most, except for the poor saps in retail. For them, this holiday is the Hell of all Hells.
Obesity Yes, I covered this in my other ABCs, but Thanksgiving almost always gets a pass, even from the Nutritional Nazi Snowflakes. Thanksgiving is a no judgment time, so even the fatties get a pass on pigging out.
Pumpkin Pie Back in the day, mothers baked pumpkin or sweet potato pies from scratch, using evaporated milk and that pumpkin that came in the can. (Check your pantry first) Scratch that, no one makes these things anymore when there are absolutely mouth-watering and waist destroying pies like Marie Callenders Pumpkin Pie. Leave the others in the frozen food section, this is the one. There is no remorse here, as these things are better than homemade.
Quakers, Pilgrims and Puritans In the minds of most Americans, these are all one in the same and these Quaker/Pilgrim/Puritans sat down with the Wampanoag Indians in 1621 for a joyous celebration and feast. In reality, the Quakers did not celebrate any holidays, not even Christmas.
Religion Just like most of the other holidays, some try to impose their personal religion on others. The original Thanksgiving celebrations were hardly religious as they were a 3-day orgy that was all about eating, drinking, playing rowdy games and even musket target practice as a warning to the Indians.
Stuffing -or- Dressing If you are fortunate enough to have someone make giblet gravy, you might also have a cook competent enough to make real stuffing. More often than not, it is Pepperidge Farm, out of a bag and whipped up in a jiffy. No matter. If you have the right kind of gravy, it will turn even the most mundane stuffing into a mouth-watering treat.
Turkey What else? Turkey is always the centerpiece of any Thanksgiving feast. Ever since Benjamin Franklin created the turkey by successfully crossing a chicken with a pig in 1740, Americans have feasted on this succulent bird. But, guess what? There was no turkey at the original feast, only venison. Another myth bites the dust. It’s also an urban legend that the tryptophan in turkey makes you drowsy. In reality, it’s more likely to be the 8 oz. of bourbon, 16 oz. of wine, 2500 grams of carbs and 8,000 total calories that are giving you the nods. Your pancreas hates you for what you just did, and rightfully so.
Undercooked/Overcooked In this day and age of instant-read thermometers, there is really no excuse. The older generation is more paranoid about under-cooked meat, so if you have one of these for a Thanksgiving cook, your turkey might look something like the one on the Griswold’s Christmas table. If your Nervous Nellie waits until the internal is over 165 degrees F., then chances are that your precious turkey will be dry and past its prime. The larger the bird, the longer it will continue to cook after you take it out. Try 155 degrees and don’t be afraid of a little pink.
Vegetables As far as Thanksgiving is concerned, See: Cranberry Sauce
White Meat When it comes to turkey, most Americans choose their meat like they choose their Presidents. White and often tasteless.
eXtra Gravy & 2nd Helpings With the first Thanksgiving plate, you try to pay respects to anyone foolish enough to bring or serve crap like ambrosia or healthy vegetables. Yes, I know, Aunt Blah-Blah went to a lot of trouble, so the least you can do is try it. After the initial onslaught to your G.I. tract, the obligatory side items are either consumed or pushed around into an unrecognizable mass under the gravy. Now it is time to get serious. More turkey, more dressing, and plenty of gravy. You grab another buttered Sister Schubert and stick a slice of cranberry sauce inside. Yum, yum.
Yams Who needs them, especially at Thanksgiving? Well, I do because I need a (Y). Anyway, properly prepared yams or sweet potatoes, with cinnamon, brown sugar and butter can be pretty darn good. Your body will also appreciate the fiber as your overwhelmed gastrointestinal tract will be trying to fight off paralysis because of the enormous amounts of food.
Zzzzzs Take a nap, your body has earned it.