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05 November 2011

Thanksgiving is Coming!

Unbelievable but true, it's already November.  And in November is the great American holiday, Thanksgiving, designated to be the fourth Thursday of the month, so every year it is on a different date, but still on a Thursday.  Yet, with so many factured families, or even families blessed with still-living and active relatives on both spouses' and parents' sides, it's hard to get it all in in one day.  So, we begin to hear about "having Thanksgiving on Sunday before" or "they go to her family's house on Thursday and then, we have everyone on Saturday."  "Thanksgiving" is not so much the holiday which falls on the fourth Thursday of November, but a state of mind, a tradition to uphold, a holiday that shouts "family, gosh darn it!"    And what used to dominate the holiday is the turkey.  When I was young, I never saw turkey in the supermarket until the month of November.  And, then, it was usually on sale for pennies per pound, hoping shoppers would pick up the stuffing, the jar of mincemeat and the fixings for green bean casserole all in one swoop.  Butterball created the turkey hotline whose emergency telephone calls were answered by home economic teachers, because while roasting a turkey is relatively easy, doing it but once a year for such a special occasion is so stressful, that would-be tradition-bearers need the calming effect of a true expert's voice of reason to survive the process.  Then, we started seeing turkey franks, turkey drumsticks and ground turkey meat for sale, and on sale, throughout the year.  Having turkey for dinner became nothing special.  To make the Thanksgiving turkey even more dramatic, we began seeing brined turkey and deep fried turkey and turducken -- which according to wikipedia is a revival of an 18th century source of cooking stress. As early as my sophomore year at Vassar, there was a hallmate who came back from Thanksgiving break saying in disdain, turkey is common.  The real treats at the Thanksgiving table are stuffing, mincemeat pie and candied yams.  By golly, I guess she's probably right (although I wonder how much Stovetop Stuffing gets bought and made at non-Thanksgiving dinners).  But, the turkey will always be the symbol of Thanksgiving.

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