“Black Thursday” Means a Bleak Thanksgiving

What has happened to Thanksgiving, that much loved holiday set aside just for us to give thanks, the one day of the year devoted to being grateful for our many blessings?  Well first of all, Black Friday popped up, supposedly the busiest retail sales day of the year, and the big kick-off to the holiday shopping season.

When that was a success, retailers began to propose Black Thursday (my expression), when stores would remain open on Thanksgiving Day for more shopping!  Can you imagine leaping out of bed on Thanksgiving morning, grabbing a deli-sliced turkey sandwich and a mug of pumpkin flavored eggnog as you dash off to the mall just to save a few bucks on your Christmas gifts?

I’m proposing  “Black November”!  Sales would start the day after Halloween and continue right up to midnight, Christmas Eve. Surely that would give even the most dedicated shopper enough time to get the job done, especially with gaudy ads promising  “Sales – Sales – Sales,” and  “Lowest Prices Of The Season Guaranteed!”   Wouldn’t that satisfy our urge to spend money in order to save money, the end result of our pie-in-the-sky attitude toward life?

“Black November,” three extra weeks to get those bargains! No  more “Black Thursdays” to dread.  No “Black Fridays” to drive us frantic.

Just think,  Thanksgiving could return to being what it’s supposed to be, a quiet, peaceful day to spend with family and friends, tables piled high with the favorite foods of the season as we give thanks for the bounty we’ve  received.

The most relaxed, laid-back holiday of the year requires so little effort, other than the marathon cooking projects taking place in kitchens across the country.  Decorations?  Just turn the Halloween Jack-o-lantern faces to the wall, bring in a bunch of dead leaves and Voila! a Thanksgiving theme!  Costumes?  Optional, with one of two choices;  Pilgrims with those goofy hats, or Native American Indians with their knack for recycling turkey feathers.  Gifts? NO! None, not even one.  Well, maybe a courtesy floral arrangement or a bottle of wine, but that’s it.

Entertainment?  No more home town parades, no decorated tractors, no crepe paper streamers on the Radio Flyer.  Fido or Fluffy wouldn’t have to ride along, miserable in their tied-on finery, as we’d  plod for a couple miles, either in bitter cold or a sudden downpour or both.  Now we get to kick back in the recliner watching a parade of hot air balloons drift over a variety of cities.  It beats the hot air usually drifting overhead in an election year, generated by a panel of turkeys eager for our attention. The entire family can participate, as long as someone runs to the kitchen every so often to baste the actual turkey.

And that brings us to the really fun part of the day, preparing the feast! I find it interesting that our Thanksgiving dinner remains the same, year after year, family after family. Based on what we think the original foods were, wild turkeys, squash and corn, it’s evolved into quite a splendid spread.  Regional variations and family likes and dislikes aside, we all pretty much prepare the same foods.  Most of our menus follow the same time-honored traditions.

Turkey, of course, roasted and redolent with herbs.  I’ve seen a few barbequed salmon on cedar planks in the northwest, and I hear TOFURKEY is big in Southern California, otherwise thousands and thousands of pounds of turkeys are popped into thousands of ovens in the wee small hours of the big day, so we can drool over the good smells for hours.

Stuffing or Dressing? It doesn’t matter what it’s called, what matters is whether it’s been poked into the bird or baked separately.  The main difference is in where you live.  Southerners want theirs made with cornbread, New Englanders add oysters and Anglophiles insist on roasted chestnuts.  Otherwise it’s bread cubes and herbs.

Cranberries: those bright, zingy little berries seem to show up on every table. The bog people at Ocean Spray have a great idea going  and we love them for it.

Mashed potatoes:  Put down that box. This is the day for the real thing. Lumps are O.K.  The same with Gravy: here again lumps can be forgiven as long as you make enough gravy. Running out is what’s unforgivable.

Sweet potatoes or yams: the big difference being that yams have more color and nutritional value  Preparation depends on how many sugary dishes the human  body can absorb in one day.  I say a few marshmallows never hurt anyone.

Scalloped corn: a dish definitely from the upper Midwest. We Northeners will say “Absolutely a must!”  To the rest of you it’s a “Huh?”

Tossed Green Salad: Optional.  I happen to be related to people who demand a sworn statement to the effect that no leafy greens will show up on their holiday table. “Thanksgiving feasts are meant to be festive, they don’t have to be healthy,” or so they insist.

“Not Really Salad” Salads:  Very popular side dishes full of crunchy, rich goodies like nuts, coconut, pineapple, cherries, cream cheese, on and on.  Every cook has several variations on these.  Once again, how much of this type of food can we handle at one time?  The answer seems to be quite a lot. Bring it on.

Creamed Onions? Brussels Sprouts?  Green Bean Casserole?  These dishes all have their lobbies.  Family favorites and regional preferences rule.  Also crudites, relishes and pickles: here  again a matter of family choice.  Grandma’s pickled parsnips may be traditional on your table. If you’re not from Texas or the Southwest, watch out for the jalapenos.

Auntie Jo’s Parkerhouse Rolls;  Auntie Jo makes these for Easter, too. One year they were accidently dropped into the pastel Easter dyes, and made a good substitute for hard boiled eggs when it was time for egg rolling on the lawn.  A tactful attempt to get someone else to bring the Parkerhouse Rolls could be tried, bearing in mind that Auntie Jo’s temperament is almost as famous as her rolls.

And Pies!  Lots of Pies! The perfect heavy, rich dessert to follow a heavy, rich meal.  Pumpkin always leads the choices, followed closely by Pecan, with a couple of Apples for good measure. A Must Have: real Whipped Cream, mounds of the genuine cholesterol-laden stuff.  Leave the chemical fluff in the back of the freezer, where it belongs. By now the calorie count per person has climbed to an astronomical figure.  Why stop now?

So there you have it, the perfect Thanksgiving feast for the perfect Thanksgiving Day with no proposed “Black Thursdays” to ruin things.  Now if the guys could be pried off the sofas to clean up the kitchen while the gals watched football, it would be a real celebration.  And we’d still have “Black Friday” to lounge around and nibble on leftovers.

Forget Black Thursday, Relax on Black Friday!

Let’s give Thanks for Black November!!

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Auntie Jo Entertains

Auntie Jo loves to cook.  She especially loves to cook with wine.  Not necessarily adding wine to the food;  well yes, that too, but she finds a glass or two of her favorite white,  or sometimes a hearty red, helps with the tiresome chore of getting meals together.

A late sleeper, she prefers starting her day with a crisp Chardonnay as an eye opener;  much better than orange juice.  It works great with a bowl full of KIX or TRIX or whatever those crunchy things are called.  If she’s out of milk a few dribbles of her Chardonnay across the noisy little chunks is just as tasty.  And if she’s out of the noisy little chunks, another glass of Chardonnay fills the gap.

By noon, when she begins to feel hungry again, an icy Rose’ does wonders for her peanut butter sandwich.  She used to prefer grilled cheese sandwiches with a Riesling, as long as the Riesling wasn’t too dry,  but one day, unfortunately, she drained the bottle while toasting the grilled cheese.  In the time it took to open a fresh bottle and taste it to be sure it was still lively, the sandwich became charred beyond redemption, the cheese fused to the pan and the whole mess was so distressing she had to throw pan, sandwich and all, into the trash and finish the entire bottle of Riesling before she was able to calm down.

Now on any ordinary day  Auntie Jo  likes a wee little nap, followed by a wee little nip of Pinot Gris along with her afternoon snack, usually a bite of last night’s leftover pizza.  Preparing food in the middle of the afternoon is not something  Auntie Jo  likes to do.  Dinner is her favorite meal and preparations are apt to be time-consuming so she prefers to begin after the cocktail hour.  If she is expecting dinner guests, the evening will likely be very festive  This is when she loves to trot out her favorite recipes, most of them being her own creations, tried and true.

Auntie Jo will begin by opening and decanting a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir while she ponders the SOUPS in her repertoire.  The first glass of Pinot slips down smoothly as she decides between  a Shrimp Bisque and a Vegan Consomme’.  She’s a bit of a health nut and a quick peek in the refrigerator to confirm that she’s out of shrimp makes this an easy choice.  She opts for the Vegan Consomme’; unfortunately she is also out of vegetable bouillon cubes and has to settle for several cubes of chicken bouillon, hoping no one will notice. A pan full of hot water, a few good glugs of Sauvignon Blanc and there it is,  Voila!  gourmet  Very Vegan Consomme’!

The Sauvignon Blanc looks so tasty she tries a glass as she thinks about SALADS.  Her own  “Deluxe Jello Confetti Divine”  will be perfect;  but wait, shouldn’t she have prepared that ahead of time?  Well, too late now.  Jello sets up faster than it used to anyway, doesn’t it?  Several large packages of lime Jello with plenty of very hot water stirred in,  once again a few splashes of Sauvignon for the Jello and a dollop for her glass.  Amazing how quickly the glass empties; wine bottles must hold less these days.

She has the rest of the ingredients for the salad on hand so she chops radishes – this is a confetti salad, remember? – and the radishes provide a bright red and white color.  A handful of frozen corn adds yellow,  blueberries for, you guessed it, blue, and a package of baby carrots that glow orange against the green Jello.  As a last touch, chunks of eggplant, unpeeled of course, provide a nice purple.  It all looks a little soupy but should be fine by the time the rest of the meal is ready.  Maybe she should put it in the refrigerator?  Oh yes, she nearly forgot the whipping cream.  By now she can’t remember where her whisk might be, or if she evens has one so she shakes the box of cream vigorously several times, ready to pour it over the salad.  In the meantime she notices the bottle of Sauvignon Blanc has mysteriously emptied so she opens another Pinot Noir, accidently dripping a good sized puddle over the whipping cream.  The resulting shade of pink is exquisite with the confetti colors.

About now Auntie Jo’s guests begin to arrive, each being greeted with a hug and a glass of whichever wine is open at the moment.  Auntie Jo is so pleased to see her friends she forgets that she hasn’t started the entree’.  She’d been planning on  Boeuf Bourgignon Con Verduras Mexicanas (translation: burgundy beef with Mexican vegetables – foreign words are so classy),  another of her creations.  She woozily peers into her freezer, finds what looks like a large rump roast and pops it into the Crock-Pot.  She probably should have unwrapped it first but time is getting short. In goes a bottle of her best Burgundy along with a can of fruit cocktail since there don’t seem to be any mixed veggies on hand. One third cup of chili powder, carefully measured, adds the Mexican touch. Oh well, what the heck, another third of a cup won’t hurt.  On goes the lid and the entire Crock-Pot goes into the microwave to hasten the cooking process.

2 hours later, the guests and she are down to the last few bottles of assorted wine, stuffing themselves on what’s left of the leftover pizza, KIX, TRIX and peanut butter, not noticing a dark, horrid smelling cloud wafting in from the kitchen.  By midnight everyone has staggered off towards home and Auntie Jo heaves a sigh of relief at the success of her dinner party.  She reels around the living room, draining all the bottles of wine into one bomb of a nightcap, and falls onto the sofa for a well-earned rest.

When the firemen hack open her front door and drag her to safety, her eyelids barely flutter.  She wakes up in the ambulance once, sits up and cries out  “I forgot the dessert,” then passes out again.

The Womanizer’s Wife

When I discovered, after many years of wedded bliss, that my own true love was a womanizer, I accepted the news calmly with my usual self-restraint.  Being of a serene, well-adjusted nature I was not too upset.

Of course, I did sew the zippers closed on all his pants.

And, yes, I did brandish my sharpest sewing shears in a threatening manner.

And I must admit I donned my pointy-toed stilettos, took careful aim and landed a perfect kick.

Then I throttled him with my strongest support panty-hose.

And finally I gouged both his eyes out, continuing down his cheeks with my nails, leaving grooves for the blood to run off.

I sank into my chair and leaned back, smirking like a Cheshire Cat as I listened to the sound of sirens drawing near.

Apparently I’m not as self-controlled as i thought I was, but I feel  GOOD.