A couple things about the food…

If you recall, last year I wrote a post about the reasons certain folks hate Thanksgiving.  I had a lot of fun writing it.  So I did it again.  You can read it below.  But Mom thought I was bit too rantastic, and by that she meant I was mean, in my own disdain for the Left’s feelings about Thanksgiving.  So I tried to find some common ground with the Haters.

After some brief, albeit shallow, research I discovered that one of the ajor complaints about Thanksgiving among Thanksgiving Haters is the food.  And, truth be told, I kinda have some sympathy for them here.

For example, yams.  What the hell is a yam?  Yam sounds like something Patriots fans yell when Tom Brady hits Gronk for a first down on 3rd and 15.  “Yam baby!  Brady is yamming the Jets today!”  But it doesn’t sound like food.  Turns out yams should be the Left’s favorite Thanksgiving food.  70% of the world’s yams are produced in Nigeria.  They were imported from Africa to the Caribbean during the Slave trade.  Yams have a bit of identity crisis and they are often mistaken for sweet potatoes and often treated and prepared as if they, in fact, are sweet potatoes.  In vegetable circles, this is known as Sweet Potato Privilege.  Yam interest groups, in their fight for vegetable equality, are pushing Big Vegetable to change production practices in order end institutional yamism.  While efforts in the Vegetable Congress have focused on raising taxes on sweet potatoes and using the new revenue to provide free yams to consumers regardless of yam demand.

Cranberry sauce.  This is not a sauce.  It is also not edible.  It’s a canned tube of gelatin.  Cranberry sauce is jello’s a-hole cousin that nobody likes but still shows up at Thanksgiving to regale everyone with it’s tales of awesomeness while pointing out to everybody what they’re doing wrong.  When not being served at Thanksgiving, it doubles as the gel used to test ballistics on spent rounds of ammunition in crime labs across the country.

Butter.  I totally understand and generally endorse the use of butter to turn crescent rolls into carby, oily wonderfulness.  But, and let me be clear about this, the butter on the mashed potatoes in the huge bowl should not be pooling into small ponds deep enough that if, by accident of course, a crescent roll slid off your plate into the aforementioned butter pond, it would be completely submersed and require the use of commercial tongs to retrieve.  If you go to the mashed taters and Hudson Bay is present, just walk by.  You can’t eat that.

Greenbean casserole.  Stop trying to trick me by combining green beans with fried onions, cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese.  They’re still green beans.  And along with broccoli and cauliflower, represent a triumvirate of things I hope to avoid on Thanksgiving.  Other things I hope to avoid on Thanksgiving: any discussion of broadway musicals, watching the Cowboys win, and defending my natural tendency to believe beer is always appropriate as a beverage.

Giblets.  Dude, they are sealed in a bag and placed into the body cavity of the bird.  That all sounds ominous.  Like the turkey zombie virus is carried by the giblets so they have to be sealed in a bag to prevent an outbreak.

Marshmallows.  I mean…what!?  When in the hell did it become okay to 1) put marshmallows on anything other than a smore, and 2) serve them on Thanksgiving?  Stop doing it.  What’s next?  Are you going to serve shrimp ceviche, ahi tuna and oyster casserole?

So there you have it, the Thanksgiving haters have one gripe that I’m willing to entertain.  Briefly.  Otherwise, shut up and enjoy the rest of your pumpkin ales and Octoberfest beers, the pie and the, well, the pie.  Also just a couple more weeks until Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Thanksgiving Debate

I really can’t let it go.  The Thanksgiving Haters fascinate me.  The day is about gratitude, family and/or friends and traditions.  Yet many folks simply can’t let the rest of us enjoy it.  They can’t keep the hate to themselves.  They have to make a statement regarding their enlightened views on the holiday.  If you hate Thanksgiving, why do I have to be part of the hate?  Go ahead and hate it.  I know it’s cool amongst smug know it all progressive leftists to hate Thanksgiving.  I understand that the haters believe Thanksgiving is a holiday created by a morally bankrupt America that celebrates murder, genocide and oppression.  And I think its funny that you all get together in faux abhorrence this time of year with your lattes and wax on about the plight of the indigenous peoples of the New World while lamenting your own wretched Caucasian genes and carrying all that white guilt.

 

Now you may be thinking that I’m just a sarcastic intellectually dishonest jerk?  And I’m not going to lie, I do enjoy sarcasm and have often employed it inappropriately.  But while you’re shaking your head in sanctimonious patronizing self-assuredness, read what University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen wrote in his article “How I Stopped Hating Thanksgiving and Learned to Be Afraid” in CommonDreams.org just before Thanksgiving back in 2009.

 

“Although it’s well known to anyone who wants to know, let me summarize the argument against Thanksgiving: European invaders exterminated nearly the entire indigenous population to create the United States. Without that holocaust, the United States as we know it would not exist. The United States celebrates a Thanksgiving Day holiday dominated not by atonement for that horrendous crime against humanity but by a falsified account of the “encounter” between Europeans and American Indians.  When confronted with this, most people in the United States (outside of indigenous communities) ignore the history or attack those who make the argument. This is intellectually dishonest, politically irresponsible, and morally bankrupt.”

 

So, anyway, again for those who care to know, here’s a quick summary of the “falsified” history of Thanksgiving we were all taught.  The first Thanksgiving was in 1621.  The Pilgrims hopped aboard the Mayflower, crossed the Atlantic, and smacked into Plymouth Rock.  Then, those who survived that first winter in Massachusetts celebrated their good fortune with the new neighbors, the Wampanoag.  And like most neighbors they didn’t always get along.  But on this day they evidently did.  However, like many family gatherings, it led to emergency room visits over the next several years.  Most of the Left’s abhorrence regarding the holiday emanates here.  You can choose to debate them.  Or you can shake your head in mock appreciation and just make fun of them.  It’s easier, takes less time and it makes them mad.

 

So here’s a rapid-fire Chronicles of Dad rundown of Turkey Days since the pilgrims.  According to History.com, for the 150 or so years after that first Thanksgiving, New England settlers celebrated days of thanksgiving on an occasional and sometimes annual basis.  The menu was diverse.  And by this I mean they killed things and ate them.  Then in 1789 George Washington “issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.”  Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson did not.

 

New York was the first state to officially name Thanksgiving a holiday in 1817 even though New Hampshire and Massachusetts both held days of Thanksgiving in 1816. In 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale, the first woman magazine editor in America, began a 36 year campaign to have Thanksgiving named a national holiday.  In 1863, President Lincoln finally agreed.  With the Civil War at its peak Lincoln wrote that all Americans should ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”  Abe named the final Thursday in November as the day and right up until 1939 that’s the way it was.  That’s when FDR tried to move Thanksgiving from Lincoln’s designated day up a week to give the country an economic boost through an additional week of Christmas shopping.  It would seem liberals need to control the economy extends to changing national holidays.  Then in 1941 Congress and FDR permanently established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday.

 

In 1924 Macy’s began its traditional Thanksgiving Day Parade.  And despite its inherent corporate greed, liberals and progressives have been to known to attend and even watch it on TV.  Rumor has it though that the ensuing self-loathing results in skyrocketing profits for the makers of Prozac and Zoloft… furthering the self-loathing and profits.

 

About ten years later, the Lions started playing, and losing, on Thanksgiving. Then in the 60’s the Cowboys got in on it because they assumed everybody wanted to watch them.  The TV networks got involved and made it awesome.  Then in 1988 “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” soared up the charts which of course led to the hair metal power ballad becoming intertwined with Thanksgiving.

 

Which of course leads back the central questions of how exactly were George Washington, Sarah Hale, Abe Lincoln, the Detroit Lions and Poison engaged in the “genocidal campaign against indigenous people that is central to the creation of the United States”?

 

Or we can all just enjoy the day…

Haters gonna hate

Did you know that there are people that hate Thanksgiving? There are. I googled it. They write about it with such disdainful contempt that its takes you aback. Gotta admit that not only was I unsure how to react but I was really, really curious. I wanted to know why these America-hating, Howard Zinn-loving, foodie-snobbing, vacation-loathing, self-important douchebags despised it so much. I mean its Thanksgiving, not prostate exam day.

After a short bit of looking, I’ve come to the conclusion that their hate was pretty well articulated by Colin McGuire two years ago in his column In Defense of…Hating Thanksgiving at PopMatters when he wrote that Thanksgiving, “…is without question the most meaningless, annoyingly traditional holiday celebrated.”

Um, what? Most meaningless, annoyingly traditional holiday? Valentine’s Day? Hello? If we’re going to start assigning the terms meaningless and annoying to traditional holidays it seems stunningly obvious that Valentine’s Day already occupies that spot. It was entirely created by Hallmark and the chocolate barons as way to make money in an otherwise meaningless month. And if these Thanksgiving haters have proven anything is that they detest anything as traditionally American as making money.

Regardless, McGuire blasts away at Thanksgiving the same way the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, or T-101, treated the police station when it was looking for Sarah Conner. My entirely subjective and utterly biased summary of his argument for Thanksgiving hate is below:

turkeyday#1It’s About Genocide.
Evidently by celebrating Thanksgiving we are not only taking pleasure in the slaughter of millions of native peoples over that last 500 years in the New World, we are also chortling through our bloody fangs at the carnage left by the mass murder of millions of turkeys. Now, I could be wrong but I don’t think I’m alone when I say genocide really wasn’t Abe Lincoln’s plan when he declared the last Thursday of November in 1863 a day of thanks. And I could have this wrong too but didn’t the Pilgrims leave England because they were in search of religious freedom? Or, in other words, they were a bunch of crazy right-wing nut bars who hated the government. Or people who watch Fox News, I guess, to those of you who are Thanksgiving haters. I mean the Pilgrims weren’t walking around with flamethrowers and bulldozers obliterating everything in their line of sight. But I guess, yeah, genocide is accurately blamed on Myles Standish.

ThanksgivingDinnerThe Menu
Bird, stuffing, and I assume by extension, gravy, crescent rolls, any form of potato, pumpkin pie and beer are all bad. They are bland and without flavor. You know, in America, we’re still free to make our own decisions. Unless its about keeping your own doctor and your own health care plan. Sure turkey is the traditional choice but that doesn’t mean you can’t add something. At my in-laws, they make ham balls. I’m told they’re good. Don’t really know because I don’t like to eat anything that ends in “balls.” Or “log.” And sometimes “loaf” if the word right before “loaf” is “cheese.” How miserable must you be if your reason for hating Thanksgiving is because someone invited you over and made you a big meal of turkey, stuffing and gravy? I’m just spitballing here but my instincts tell me the appropriate reaction to this is WTF…followed by derisive headshaking and an exasperated “you’ve got to be f’ing kidding me.” Or the same reaction you had when you were forced to endure two movies with Timothy Dalton as 007.

fall5Family
Turns out Thanksgiving forces folks to get together with family members who they spend the rest of the year avoiding. McGuire describes the day and the travel and events around the day as “habitual torture.” Torture, at least the way I understand it, is something that is inflicted upon you, not something in which you show up for and voluntarily participate. When I was growing up we weren’t really close to family for a good part of my younger years. So we, brace yourselves, got together with friends to celebrate Turkey Day. And sometimes, in addition to friends, my folks would invite some individuals who they worked with that also were relatively alone on Thanksgiving. And we celebrated with them too. Plus, and I’m totally not joking about this, they sometimes brought over their own contributions to the feast that weren’t within our own traditional menu options. And we, you’re totally not going to believe this, actually ate what they brought over even though it wasn’t traditional. Even though it was from the dude who liked NHL more than college football. And that was hard. So, in the interest of space, this line of reasoning in the hater’s satchel is, well, dung.

collegeHeartbreak
I had never heard of Dumpsgiving. Evidently this is a phenomenon that occurs every Thanksgiving week when college freshmen come home and dump their high school sweetheart after spending a couple months at college. Something else of which I have never heard? A single person who gives two craps about this. Dumpsgiving? Shut up.

nov27Thursday
Apparently when Thanksgiving was designated for a Thursday it was huge mistake because it lands in the middle of the week creating an inconvenience for millions of Americans. What is this so-called inconvenience? The inconvenience of being told to stay home from work. Evidently, the haters love work so much they are repelled, possibly nauseated, definitely offended, by the idea of not going to work. I assume that talking to these people is a lot like listening to Nancy Pelosi while trying to follow her logic.

McGuire finally summarizes his hate with this:

“The practice of celebrating Thanksgiving is old and trite and dull and boring and forced and a slave to a kind of tradition that is borderline intolerable. Outside of it solidifying the fact that yes, the calendar year is almost over, and no, it won’t be warm again for a little while (for those of us in the northern climes, anyway), the holiday itself is nothing more than a hollow attempt for poignancy by people who, in all honesty, would have to spend the next 10,000 years saying “thank you” on a loop to justify all the good fortune they have. It’s a manufactured conscience-clearer designed to trick us into thinking that a higher power actually believes us when we say—a mere one time a year, mind you—that we know precisely how spoiled we are. It’s smothered in the type of empty promises and obnoxious grandstanding that proves exactly how pious and obsessed most of us exemplify with our own exaggerated perception of ourselves.”

Yeah, that right there America is why it sucks to be an elitist know-it-all who condescendingly looks down upon the unenlightened masses foolishly duped into celebrating a backward and offensive holiday. While the sheer volume of pompous sanctimonious smuggery wrapped into that one paragraph is astounding, all it really does is make me hungry. For turkey. And stuffing. And beer.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

It’s Thanksgiving Season Dammit!

Once you get past Halloween, and election day every other year, it’s just a countdown to Christmas. It shouldn’t be, but it is. As many of you know I am of the belief that Thanksgiving doesn’t get it’s due. In past I’ve described Thanksgiving in various ways:

2008: “Thanksgiving! It’s more than just bird and mashed potatoes. It’s the only time of year that everyone cares what the Detroit Lions are doing.”

2010: “Regardless, in 1863 Abe Lincoln was the first to name the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving in America. Then in 1941 Congress and FDR permanently established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday. Interestingly enough FDR tried to move Thanksgiving from Lincoln’s designated day to earlier to give the country an economic boost. It would seem liberals need to control the economy extends to changing national holidays.”

2011: “Anyway, Thanksgiving gets lost in the corporate commercial onslaught of Halloween and Christmas. Evidently, turkeys and pilgrims aren’t all that marketable. Thanksgiving has pretty much been rebranded as the tailgate immediately preceeding black Friday. Not that anything is wrong with tailgating. Especially when it is centered on turkey, potatoes, corn and beer.”

2012: “We’re all cheating on Thanksgiving and it needs to stop. This truly American holiday gets lost between Halloween and Christmas. It’s Wendy’s to McDonald’s and Burger King. It’s Coors Light to Bud Light and Miller Light. It’s the Admiral Ackbar of minor Star Wars characters. Appreciated? Yes. Quickly discarded? Also yes.”

2013: “Holiday music is to Christmas nostalgia what the smell of toast is to mornings, the smell of burning leaves to fall, the smell of Milwaukee’s Best Light to hangovers. I’m powerless, POWERLESS I SAY, to end my own cheating on Thanksgiving. I’m so, so sorry but its really hard to turn off the songs. Its an excuse, I know. I realize its entirely up to me and I need to take ownership of my failings. I’m sorry to you Macy’s Department Store. You made giant balloons cool and allowed Matt Lauer to host something he doesn’t suck at. And I’m sorry to you John Madden. Since the mid-80’s you’ve made Thanksgiving so much more important than Myles Standish, Abraham Lincoln and FDR could have ever hoped. I’m sorry to you Joey Tribbiani. For it was you who made Thanksgiving pants acceptable. Finally, I’m sorry to you mashed potatoes and gravy…and probably pumpkin pie too. When paired with beer, you make Thanksgiving so delicious I shouldn’t stray.”

You know, Ren MacCormack was right when he was speaking before the Bomont Town Council and Rev. Moore back in ’84 when he quoted from Ecclesiastes that there is a time for every purpose under heaven. And the time for winter is winter. Not November. Winter, you’re getting greedy my unwelcome friend. You’re killing Buffalo for no reason. What has Buffalo ever done to deserve this? C’mon man, they’ve missed the playoffs for 15 straight years and now that they’re actually in the hunt, you hit them with this crazy biblical snow. Oh and it was 12 freaking degrees on Nov. 17 here. This after last November when Rye and I went to an Iowa State game where the kickoff temperature was 8 f’ing degrees. That sucks. Go home. You’re like Green Day at AC DC concert. Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet you cold bitter old bastard. Stop dumping snow on us. I mean I’ll live with the cold temps. Sucks, but I’ll do it. What I don’t want in mid freaking November is ice on the damn roads. I don’t want to be chipping that stuff off my driveway a week before Turkey Day. First it’s Americans rampantly cheating on our own damn holiday. We invented it. It’s ours. Now it’s the weather. I blame Al Gore. Dammit America, am I the only one who this feels way about Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving is to Christmas what the Raiders were to the Steelers in the 70’s. Awesome in it’s own right, but still not the best. And that sucks for Thanksgiving. I decided the theme of this year’s Thanksgiving would be pie. I hope you held up your end of the bargain on that. I did. Damn you pumpkin pie and your tasty pilgrimy flavorsome goodness! Pumpkin pie is the Immaculate Reception of Thanksgiving. It’s good every time, it never gets old and people will argue about its rightful place in the lore of the day for eternity.

Anyway, in our school district the kids get the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off instead of Veteran’s Day. You can make your own value judgments regarding that decision. I’m not joining you. The convenience of having the girls with that Wednesday off cannot be overstated. Last week, as has become our tradition, they helped me get out and put up the Christmas decorations. And by helping me, I mean they didn’t help and instead watched TV.

Well that’s not totally true. Kinsey actually did provide some real bona fide assistance as I removed the boxes and bags of Christmas decorations from the storage shelves in the basement. I do a fairly decent job of making sure the decorations are easily accessible but after a year’s worth of storage, stuff builds up. Also we have a lot of them.

But here’s the dirty little secret with Christmas decorations; you can’t start putting them all up until you’ve cleaned and dusted the areas in which they will be displayed for the yuletide enjoyment of all. Which, or course, sucks. Plus you can’t discount the fact that you are purposefully cleaning for the sole reason of getting the aforementioned display areas ready for Christmas decorations and you are doing it in what is clearly marked on all calendars as the day before Thanksgiving. There’s no getting around the fact that its still Thanksgiving season. And listen, if you’ve spent any time on this blog, I have a certain distaste for the early Christmas epidemic that takes over America in November. But I’ve rationalized the “getting a headstart on the Christmas decorations” behavior as most Americans do. Hey, if the President can say Obamacare is working, then I figure we’re all allowed to just do whatever the hell we want.

Regardless of the administration’s hold on their approval rating, I figured since we’re leaving for Mom’s folks house later the same day, unpacking and putting up the outside Christmas lights doesn’t really qualify as cheating on Thanksgiving since we won’t turn on the lights or actually enjoy any of the decorations until after Turkey Day. Yeah, I know, it’s a giant crock of sh..crap. It’s like Big Ten football fans convincing themselves that the additions of Rutgers and Maryland make the conference better at football. Still not okay with Penn State being in that league by the way. I miss Pitt-Penn State on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Thanks for killing tradition ESPN, Nike and Jim Delaney.

Anyway, whilst I’m bringing up the boxes of Christmas stuff I notice a couple things. First, I’m working far harder than I expected. Which in turn could mean a few other things; 1) Stamina is not what it used to be. 2) We have way too many Christmas decorations. 3) I’m old.

ChixmaslionRegardless, after getting everything off the shelves I made a key decision. The tree and ornaments can wait until after Thanksgiving. Kinda have to do that with Mom and the girls anyway. It’s a family activity. You can’t put up the tree and decorate it by yourself if you are married and have three girls living with you. All you can do it prevent the ornaments you don’t like from being placed anywhere of consequence on the tree. My favorite ornament is small replica of the Chicago Art Institute lions with the Christmas wreaths placed on them. Sentimental. One of my first memories of my family moving to Illinois in December of ’77 was driving by those guys and seeing the wreaths. That and the ice bowl against the Giants to clinch a playoff spot for Payton and the boys.

Second thing I noticed during the my decoration retrevials? Instead of helping, Rye is watching Friends. And not just any episodes of Friends. She’s watching the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. And it totally sucked me in. Go to Youtube and watch them right now. This show is more hilarious now than it was when I was watching it in my 20’s and early 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, Ross is still annoyingly sucky. And it is more than a little concerning that Rye seems to identify with Phoebe. But Joey kills me.

“What’s not to like? Custard? Good! Jam? Good! Meat? Gooooood!”

Also sucks for the Millenials that all the Friends copycat shows don’t really approach the hilarity of the original. Also it just sucks to be a Millenial. Granted its not all your fault. You were raised by Boomers. Thanks for bankrupting the country and never learning financial literacy Boomers. But c’mon Millenials, yeah you’re awesome at social media but you’ve been praised for just about everything you’ve ever done and no, you’re not going to be charge after you’ve been here 5 minutes.

But that’s kinda off topic…

Things that happen too early…

Quick aside before I actually write about what I meant to write about…

“Dad, did you put up your flag with 13 stars in a circle for the 13 colonies because its Veterans Day?” says the bespectacled inquisitive 4th grader in my back seat.

“Yes, yes I did.”

Now I get asked lots of questions. Most of which I answer with equal parts sarcasm, movie references and spur-of-the-moment bullsh…malarkey. When the questions come from the girls I try hard to refrain and answer as a parent and adult. Sometimes, rarely, this involves me being so emotionally affected by the question that I’m moved to tears. That was, however, the case with this question. Not only did she know what that the American flag I usually fly outside the house had 13 stars representing the original 13 colonies but she also knew I put the flag up because it was Veteran’s Day. The Revolutionary War and Veteran’s Day in the same question. Now if she does it again on Pearl Harbor Day, I won’t be able to maintain my composure whatsoever. Additionally, she was picked out of her class to go sing to local Veterans. Only 4 kids from each of the 4th grades were picked. She was excited and we were too. She left with the strictest of orders to behave and show the veterans respect and thanks. They sang America the Beautiful and It’s a Grand Old Flag. Still a little surprised the local chapter of the ACLU hasn’t pressured the local teacher’s union into shutting down this little shindig. I mean these kids are not only singing about the awesomeness of America, they are learning about American history from the folks who lived that history. Seems like a perfect target for termination by the radical left since they weren’t singing about Lenin, whales and wealth redistribution.

Anyway, some things happen too early. Lynn Swann’s retirement. Ted Cruz’ ascendancy to the “Guy Nobody Listens Too.” The demise of hair metal. All happened too early.

You know what else is happening too early? Christmas music. Are there any radio stations near your house which have already begun playing Christmas music exclusively? We have one. Started Nov. 1. And it’s not the station that normally goes to the all Christmas format. Which means we now have two stations doing it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the all Christmas format. And I mean that literally. It’s all I listen to between Turkey Day and Christmas. Mom and the girls think its weird. But you know who doesn’t? Santa. That’s who. But even I have to admit that Nov. 1 is too early. The regular Christmas music station will begin next week. And even that seems a bit early. I think the day after Thanksgiving is the appropriate start date. But I realize that won’t happen since many of you continue to cheat on Thanksgiving by putting up your Christmas decorations after Halloween. I’m mainly looking at you malls. But I do have something to confess…

jtpantsDamn you Karen Carpenter and Josh Groban and you too Andy Williams for your sweet magical melodies! I can’t stop myself from listening even though we’re two weeks from Thanksgiving. It’s like musical crack. It’s the gateway drug to Christmas shopping. Holiday music is to Christmas nostalgia what the smell of toast is to mornings, the smell of burning leaves to fall, the smell of Milwaukee’s Best Light to hangovers. I’m powerless, POWERLESS I SAY, to end my own cheating on Thanksgiving. I’m so, so sorry but its really hard to turn off the songs. Its an excuse, I know. I realize its entirely up to me and I need to take ownership of my failings. I’m sorry to you Macy’s Department Store. You made giant balloons cool and allowed Matt Lauer to host something he doesn’t suck at. And I’m sorry to you John Madden. Since the mid-80’s you’ve made Thanksgiving so much more important than Myles Standish, Abraham Lincoln and FDR could have ever hoped. I’m sorry to you Joey Tribbiani. For it was you who made Thanksgiving pants acceptable. Finally, I’m sorry to you mashed potatoes and gravy…and probably pumpkin pie too. When paired with beer, you make Thanksgiving so delicious I shouldn’t stray.

The solution of course is simple. I should just stay away from things that happen too early. Sounds simple. But its not. You know why I know? Because I had a conversation about bongs with Kinsey and Bailey. I rather talk to them about the dominance of the Steel Curtain. Or the why the conventional history of Custer’s Last Stand is probably incorrect. But instead I’m talking to an 11 and 10 year old about bongs. Thanks a lot hippies.

I’m bringing them home from dance class and as we’re merging onto the highway there is a slowdown on the on-ramp. This, of course, is the most annoying thing that can happen on an on-ramp. On-ramps are meant for acceleration not deceleration. But here we are slowing down. On the right side of the ramp, almost exactly where the ramp turns into a merging lane, there are two police cars pulled off to the side. Pulled off far enough that the wheels on the right side of both cars are well into the grass. Both cars have the lights flashing. In between the cars is a red Chevy Lumina that looks like its been on road for many, many years. The trunk is open on the Lumina. Next to the open trunk, on the grass, are four teenagery looking boys. One police officer is behind the boys on a cell phone. The other officer is standing next to the trunk addressing the boys while holding what appears to be a bong. The officer is alternately pointing at the bong and gesturing towards the boys. Three of them have their hands in the pockets and one has his palms facing upward in what all parents recognize as the universal signal for, “Yeah, I don’t know what that is but it is not mine.”

Luckily for me we were driving slow enough that both of the girls were able to take in most of the details from the scene and wanted to know what the police officer was holding.

“He was holding a…well its a…its a thing that people use…um…well its a bong.”

“A what?” they both ask in a giggly sort of way.

“A bong.”

“What is a bong?”

“Well have you guys talked about drugs in guidance yet?”

“No but we had a police officer come in and talk to us about illegal drugs,”says Kinsey.

“What about you Bails?”

“Yeah, we did too…wait are they using that to inhale? Cause inhaling is bad. People do that with drugs. Is a bong for drugs?”

Wait, what the hell just happened there?

Turns out our local law enforcement is doing a fairly detailed job talking to kids about the dangers of drugs. All I had to add was that a bong is generally used to smoke marijuana. I added that if they see one to just stay away from it and whoever is using it. Because everyone near it is an idiot. And in high school and college, idiocy is contagious.

“So are those guys in trouble?” asks Kinsey.

“Damn right they are. Probably going to jail. Do you want to go to jail?”

With amazing speed, Bails answers, “No. You don’t get to do anything in jail. And they make you eat moldy bread. And you have to go the bathroom in front of everybody.”

“Um, right. And nobody wants that! So don’t hang around people who have drugs and bongs.”

And that, my friends, is how a lot of this parenting thing goes…

More Thanksgiving Awesomeness

Different version of Embracing the Awesomeness of Thanksgiving post. With more ranting, as promised.

It’s almost impossible to avoid. The temptations are everywhere. The radio, the mall, up and down your street. America has a problem. We’re all cheating on Thanksgiving and it needs to stop.

This truly American holiday gets lost between Halloween and Christmas. It’s Wendy’s to McDonald’s and Burger King. It’s Coors Light to Bud Light and Miller Light. It’s the Admiral Ackbar of minor Star Wars characters. Appreciated? Yes. Quickly discarded? Also yes.

Thanksgiving has become the tailgate before Black Friday. It’s the get together after we put up our Christmas decorations. We’re completely dismissing the meaning of the day. Which is of course football. And carbs. And gravy. Probably beer too.

Why is Thanksgiving awesome? Well, it’s opposite week as Bails told me. Only go to school for two days and we’re home for five. That is excellent reasoning. Not going to work has sort of become an American custom under this administration. I mean if we’re going to spend money we don’t have, we may as well stay home from work too.

Seriously, why do we have Thanksgiving? Well, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, we’re all taught that back in the fall of 1621 the pilgrims were so happy that they didn’t die in what would eventually be Massachusetts that they partied. This was the last thing that happened in Massachusetts that wasn’t taxed. True story. Anyway, they invited the locals, or townies as they are sometimes called, and they killed some deer, boiled some pumpkins and collected berries and stuff like that. Then they ate it and all sat back rubbing their bellies and unsnapping their suspenders or whatever it was that pilgrims used.

A little while later, George Washington decided that the last Thursday in November back in 1789 should be a day of thanksgiving for all 13 colonies. I think it was just a polite way of spiking the football in the redcoats face! Or we could have been happy that powdered wigs were leaving with the Brits. Regardless, it didn’t catch on right away. Most because football hadn’t been invented yet.

Abe Lincoln, using ol’ George as a guide, understood we needed a day of thanks after literally killing each for a few years back in the 1860’s. So he made the last Thursday in November officially Thanksgiving. For every year after that every President issued a proclamation making that day Thanksgiving. Until FDR. Still find it sort of amazing that Thanksgiving survived the Wilson administration since nearly nothing else American did. Anyway, back to FDR. Back in ’39 the nation was still suffering the effects of the Great Depression. Weird considering prohibition was repealed in ’33. So retailers went to the White House and asked the president to move Thanksgiving up a week to increase the number of shopping days before Christmas. Why we needed the approval of the president to begin shopping isn’t totally clear. So FDR, unable to contain his need to intrude into economy, moved the day. Sorta like Jim Delaney and college football. Despite the outcry, FDR did it again in 1940. Finally in 1941 Congress, in true congressional fashion, split the baby. They made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November meaning sometimes it would Franksgiving and sometimes it would be the last Thursday in November.

That’s a lot of history to ignore as we’re eating our Halloween candy and hanging our Christmas wreaths. But we do it. Although it could be that we’ve simply deformalized Thanksgiving. Which is okay. Its one of the reasons Turkey Day is my favorite holiday. Plus you get two Fridays…

Published in: on November 22, 2012 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Embracing the Awesomeness of Thanksgiving

This post appears in the opinion section of the Des Moines Register this morning. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. Oh, I have a different version of this same post that contains a lot more ranting that I’ll post shortly.

Embracing the Awesomeness of Thanksgiving

It’s almost impossible to avoid. The temptations are everywhere. The radio, the mall, up and down your street. America has a problem. We’re all cheating on Thanksgiving and it needs to stop.

This truly American holiday gets lost in the corporate commercial onslaught of Halloween and Christmas. Thanksgiving has pretty much been rebranded as the tailgate immediately preceeding Black Friday. Not that anything is wrong with tailgating. Especially when it is centered on turkey, potatoes and beer.

We use the first unseasonably warm day after Halloween as an excuse to hang Christmas lights. Some of you are putting up your Christmas decorations before Halloween. You know who you are. The malls evidently believe Columbus Day is the official kick off of the Christmas season. Even Midwest Living magazine is doing it. Halloween stuff? Yup. All kinds of stories and pictures about pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns. Christmas stuff? You bet. Pages and pages of wreaths, snow dusted greenery and holiday tradition. Evidently turkeys and pilgrims aren’t all that marketable.

This is unacceptable. The cheating I mean, not the lack of marketing regarding turkeys and pilgrims. If anyone knows how to celebrate a holiday when its perfectly acceptable to consume nothing but gravy…and beer, its those of us in the Midwest. With that in mind here’s a quick refresher on Thanksgiving and its awesomeness.

So everybody knows that the Pilgrims left England in search of religious liberty. Two months later they arrived, signed the Mayflower Compact and quickly proceeded to starve and get sick. About a year after they landed they celebrated, with their Native American neighbors, what we’re all taught was the first Thanksgiving in America. Nobody brings up the starving part.

Regardless, in 1863 Abe Lincoln was the first to name the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving in America. Then in 1941 Congress and FDR permanently established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday. Then John Madden discovered the six-legged turkey while doing an NFL game in Dallas. Or so the story goes.

Most of my Thanksgiving memories revolve around football. And gravy. Football may be the single most important factor in my holiday rankings. Don’t get me wrong, gravy is important too but I’m 42 and gravy is on the enemies list now. Also the stuff that sits in the bottom of the turkey pan after you cook it. That’s probably bad. I mean we have a Whole Foods in town now so eating things that have visible floating fat are menu casualties. Sorry gravy. Which leaves potatoes. And cheese…and butter…can you feel that? I can. It’s an arterial blockage. Damn you cursed genetics!

Oh, I know cranberry sauce is a traditional Turkey Day deal. And I love tradition. But seriously, c’mon man. That stuff is awful. And it’s not a sauce. It’s like fancy jello.

Anyway, my point is that we should embrace Thanksgiving’s awesomeness instead of cheating on it. It is the one holiday when nobody expects anything. Well except for an abundance of carbs. I mean if gravy is out, then carbs and probably pie slide right into gravy’s spot. Notwithstanding your feelings on the whole gravy/carbs/pie debate, showing up is all anybody really expects. There aren’t any costumes. No presents. If you walk in wearing jeans, boots and a flannel shirt you fit right in. Its virtually impossible to screw it up. Nobody schedules Thanksgiving pictures. You don’t have to buy a new outfit. There’s always a James Bond marathon on TV to which you can flip during the commericals while watching football. C’mon, that’s a good holiday right there. So stop the cheating…after all Christmas is right around the corner.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

You know Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’ve detailed reasons why that happens to be the case here and here. Right now, I’m really just thankful for this:

Iowa State 37 Oklahoma State 31

And if all I get for Christmas is that. Well, I’m okay with that too. It was that awesome.

Anyway, Thanksgiving gets lost in the corporate commercial onslaught of Halloween and Christmas. Evidently, turkeys and pilgrims aren’t all that marketable. Thanksgiving has pretty much been rebranded as the tailgate immediately preceeding black Friday. Not that anything is wrong with tailgating. Especially when it is centered on turkey, potatoes, corn and beer. But even Meredith Publishing skipped right over it in Midwest Living Magazine. Yes, I get Midwest Living. And I read it. Aside from that, they skipped it. Halloween stuff – yup. All kinds of stories and pictures about pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns. Christmas stuff – yup. Pages and pages for wreaths, snow dusted greenery and holiday traditions.

Yeah, this is unacceptable. I mean, if anyone knows how to celebrate a holiday when its perfectly acceptable to consume nothing but gravy and beer, its those of us in the Midwest.

Regardless, here are 2011’s reasons why Thanksgiving is awesome.

Cool NFL football references. As in when your mother-in-law openly wonders when was the last time the Cowboys did not play on Thanksgiving. 1976 and 1977. Who replaced them? St. Louis Cardinals. I remember watching the ’77 Cardinals-Dolphins played in St. Louis. Griese carved them up 55-14. Why is this important? It marked the end for Coryell-era Cardinals and it gave me a chance to talk 70’s football, albeit briefly, during Thanksgiving Day conversations.

Leftovers. How much do I like leftovers? Back in ’91 my buddies and I got back late from a local drinking establishment and we were a bit, um, hungry. First thing we saw in the fridge was a plate of potato peels. Right, just the peels. Not sure why they were in the there but after some seasoned salt, ketchup and some time in the microwave, they weren’t bad. Peels have most of nutrients. So it was healthy.

Pie. Apple and pumpkin. No whipped crème. Cold not warmed. Mmmm….

Nobody expects anything. Thanksgiving is the one holiday when showing up is all anybody really expects. You want to bring over some food? Cool. But nobody is upset if you don’t. And even if you show up with a bag of rolls everybody thinks you’re cool. Why? There’s always some unused gravy that needs to be cleaned up. And nothing cleans up gravy like a cheap roll. Plus you only get dirty looks if you fail to eat your share. There aren’t any costumes. No presents. If you walk in wearing jeans, boots and a flannel shirt you fit right in. Its virtually impossible to screw it up. Nobody schedules Thanksgiving pictures. You don’t have to buy a new outfit. There’s always a James Bond marathon on TV to which you can flip during the commericals while watching football. C’mon, that’s a good holiday right there.

However, it also marks the beginning of Christmas. And, as Johnny Mathis says, it’s the most wonderful time of year. In fact, Johnny was singing this on the radio on the way home from gymnastics last week. Which lead to this brief exchange:

“Dad, is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year?“

“Yes, yes it is.”

“Awesome. I think its because everyone is happy because they don’t have to go to school or work and everyone with their family.”

“Well said Bails.”

Today’s Christmas clip:

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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Thanksgiving is Awesome

Quick summary on Thanksgiving. So everybody knows that the Pilgrims left England in search of religious liberty. Two months later they arrived, signed the Mayflower Compact and quickly proceeded to starve and get sick. About a year after they landed they celebrated, with their Indian neighbors, what we’re all taught was the first Thanksgiving celebration in America. Conveniently left out is the fact that their collectivist plan nearly led to their complete starvation.

Regardless, in 1863 Abe Lincoln was the first to name the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving in America. Then in 1941 Congress and FDR permanently established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday. Interestingly enough FDR tried to move Thanksgiving from Lincoln’s designated day to earlier to give the country an economic boost. It would seem liberals need to control the economy extends to changing national holidays.

Top Three Reasons Turkey Day Rocks:

#3 – Liberals hate it. They haven’t declared war on it like they have with Christmas, but they still hate Thanksgiving. They keep trying to convince America that we’re celebrating the advent of the extermination of the Indians by white Europeans. But nobody cares. Mainly because of reasons 1 and 2 but also because listening to hyper negative America haters is just tiresome. Especially when those purveyors of guilt are wealthy self indulgent morons.
#2 – Carbs. Every single type of potato is served. Every form a potato can take is displayed. Every carb know to man is mixed and cooked into stuffing. And those potatoes and that stuffing end up covered in butter and gravy. Then you use crescent rolls to mop your plate in an attempt to consume any carb remnants that evaded your mouth. Finally…somebody rolls out the pumpkin pie..sugar and carbs baked together into an irresistible pan of gastronomic pleasure…
#1 – The entire day is scheduled around football. Its really just a formalized tailgate party. Football and the entire Thanksgiving Weekend are inexorably intertwined. Like Kid Rock and fringe coats. Even if you hate football and the American values it embodies, you can’t avoid it on Thanksgiving. It’s like trying to watch TV in December without stumbling across Home Alone. Americans love Thanksgiving. You get a short work week, leftover turkey and the beginning of Christmas!

This year we’re going to Mom’s aunt’s house. Mom’s mom, hereafter known as Grandma, detailed the relish tray to us. I took this as an indictment upon our ability to cook and prepare anything within the Thanksgiving food genre. I mean isn’t being assigned the relish tray kinda like being picked last in kickball? At least she said Mom can bring her Famous Deviled Eggs. But the reaction to Mom’s suggestion that she bring an apple pie was met with the kind of swift and fierce response not seen since the Red Army bludgeoned the German 6th Army in November of ’42. Grandma evidently doesn’t want any competition when its comes to apple pies. Anyway, here’s the email she sent us earlier this week:

I will make your dip for your veggies if you will also make deviled eggs.

We are only having 15-16 people so make your veggies and eggs accordingly.

I am going to Candace’s by 11 a.m. but dinner will not be until 12:30 or 1. We will have your veggies and a cranberry cracker appetizer ahead.

Love you,

Mom

Here’s the response I sent last night.

Got it. We’ll leave early and get to your house so you have plenty of time to put Mom to work in the slave mill known as your kitchen. We’ll unload our stuff and we’ll get to dinner with plenty of time to spare.

Oh and we decided against bringing a relish tray. Hope that doesn’t monkey wrench the pre-dinner fiesta. Instead we’re whipping up four different types of gravy to fill the four-piece gravy boat set I got as a gag gift last Christmas. Probably go with a traditional gravy assuming we don’t screw it up. But I’m not sure our relish tray skills translate. Then we’re going with a vegetarian gravy with sage, soy sauce, flax seed and nutritional yeast. Never hurts to have a healthy option around. And then we have a nice ethic Polish gravy that I’ve had my eye for years. It’s really just smoked kielbasa and sauerkraut that you dump on top of potato stuffed pierogi’s. Last one is really up for grabs. The girls want us to go with a chocolate theme and with all that left over Halloween candy we’re thinking this might be a good option.

Hope that’s okay.

Even though I’ve been giving Grandma a hard time for almost a decade and a-half, its still fun. For me anyway…

Published in: on November 25, 2010 at 10:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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