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COMMON SENSE: Thanksgiving: Feasting on food, family time


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Ah! Thanksgiving. Just two days away.

It used to be that Thanksgiving was its own holiday, a day to gather with relatives and give thanks for a bountiful harvest.

To some it is now merely the day before Black Friday. To others, Thanksgiving is merely a steppingstone in the Christmas holiday season, which now, according to many, starts the instant the trick-or-treaters empty their bags of candy.

The reason, of course, is money. The best merchants are going to do at Thanksgiving is sell turkeys and cranberry sauce (some stores even give the turkeys away).

Christmas, on the other hand, is big bucks for everyone, from those who make the Popeil Pocket Fisherman to Mercedes-Benz, who insists that Santa will put one of its cars in every snowy driveway on Christmas Eve.

Now no one is going “over the river and through the woods” to grandma’s house to get a Popeil Pocket Fisherman, so commercially Thanksgiving is a loser. But it is on the calendar so retail America is forced to put up with this holiday, but only if we can link it to Christmas.

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Once upon a time rural Americans sat around Norman Rockwell’s table (anyone under 50 probably has no idea who Norman Rockwell is — no, he was not a famous Nazi), gave thanks for good crops, discussed politics and ate turkey and dressing.

Today, to prevent family wars, political conversation is forbidden at the Thanksgiving table in most homes. The only crop there is to give thanks for is the potted tomato plant on the deck that withered and died months ago.

As for turkey and dressing, well, some people refuse to eat turkey because the bird had to be killed (which is preferable and more humane, at least in my book, to cooking it while it is alive) and as for dressing, well, it usually contains bread and half the people at the table are gluten intolerant, so that’s a no-no.

Fixing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at noon to pacify the kids before Thanksgiving dinner? No! Not on your life. All the peanut butter in the house is ordered hidden down at the barn early in the day because every child that comes to dinner has a peanut allergy.

I’m telling you, Thanksgiving is getting complicated for the ladies in the kitchen. We’re about at the point where each family calls (or texts) his dinner order in ahead of time. And if many had their way, they wouldn’t even gather at the table at all. “Just bring the turkey and dressing out to the car. Better yet, have Grubhub deliver it!”

There are some really good Thanksgiving dinner cooks out there. My definition of a good Thanksgiving dinner cook? One who has the meal ready immediately after the Detroit Lions game ends and before the Dallas Cowboys game begins.

For other men, a good wife is one who plans dinner for early in the afternoon to allow him time to get on a deer stand the last hour before dark, or has it ready late, after he comes in from hunting. Timing is so important on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving dinner can be really crazy for those with divorced parents. Some families feel obligated to eat two or three Thanksgiving dinners each holiday, gobbling (pardon the pun) down one at the father’s home and then rushing 20 miles to gobble down another at the mother’s home. Can’t make anyone feel left out or they’ll get mad.

No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, whether in a religious manner or just as the day before Black Friday, it will be here in two days. Those old guys with their New England accents have been wading through the cranberry bogs for weeks getting that purple delight (that no one eats) ready for your holiday table. Don’t let them down. (Unfortunately, no one is allergic to cranberries.)

If you go to your girlfriend’s house for Thanksgiving and her mother has dinner ready between football games, marry that girl! She comes from good stock.

Avoid, however, a woman whose mother turns off the TV during dinner with the game tied and two minutes to go.

If the dinner is at your home, make sure you hide the peanuts and the bread (with gluten).

Me? I always try to hide the cranberry sauce.

Have a good one — and no politics!

Donnie Johnston’s columns generally appear in Town & County and twice per week on the Opinion page. Reach him at djohn40330@aol.com.

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