Happy Thanksgiving (* burp * ) !

Tomorrow is the big day, the only holiday where eating food is the main - no, correction, the only - thing to do. Here are the American traditions for the holiday of Thanksgiving: 1. Cook 2. Eat. 3. Start to clean up the kitchen 4. Reheat food 5. Eat again. 6. Finish cleaning up the kitchen 7. Short nap 8. Eat turkey sandwiches on leftover buns 9. Go to bed. A dream come true? Uh, yeah!

No wonder so many people have the following day off work. We’re a nation of gluttons and the next day can’t be good, what with turkey containing the chemical Lethargicia and all.

The thing I love about Thanksgiving is that I’m under no pressure to outdo what I did last year, be creative in the least, or even think while I cook. I make the same seven things every single year and I wouldn’t dream of adding, subtracting or editing the menu. I could make this dinner in my sleep or while watching a Law & Order mini marathon.

One year I decided to make a gourmet stuffing, with parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts and bacon. Gosh, it was good. Everyone said so. And then my oldest son said, “Yeah, so where’s the regular stuffing?” When I told them there was no regular stuffing, that I had made the gourmet stuffing instead, they turned on me. It got ugly. The wishbone wish that year was that I would get in a car wreck.

There were DJs on the radio the other day taking calls about disastrous Thanksgivings. All these adult whiners called in to say that they still are in therapy over the year their dad got drunk and made a big family mess on Thanksgiving. Did anyone who grew up in the ‘50s not have a dad who got drunk on Thanksgiving? Grow up. There wasn’t anything else to do on that day except maybe watch TV and there wasn’t anything good on those three channels anyway.

Since I’ve effectively blocked out the really bad stuff about my past, I don’t have a lot of bad memories of Thanksgiving. I was only a baby when my dad failed to get a turkey and my mom got mad and made him take my sisters and brother to a restaurant - a real restaurant with a waitresses and stuff - for Thanksgiving dinner. That apparently taught him, because all of the following Thanksgiving were relatively well behaved.

I used to love when we’d have company for Thanksgiving dinner, and I still do. Allowing outsiders into the family circle at an intensely family time is always interesting. I even let my friend Diane make gravy one year when she and her boyfriend came for Thanksgiving weekend and didn’t think to ask whether all those years of living in North Carolina had warped her Midwestern values, and she made milk gravy. I let out a little scream when I saw how white the gravy was. But I have to admit, it was good. Of course, my kids won’t let me make it again. I can’t even add as much as an extra teaspoon of cloves to the sweet potatoes without a mutiny on my hands.

Tonight my oldest son is flying in and we’ll make pumpkin pies for tomorrow. Then tomorrow morning I’ll wake up and start making the stuffing and sweet potatoes and green beans. Then we’re going to get all dressed up and take our Christmas card picture, and then it’s back to the apron for more cooking, then eating, then I’ll start to clean up the kitchen, then steps 4 through 9 and it’ll be another successful holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

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