This Thanksgiving, I am facing a situation I have yet to encounter in 57 years on Earth. And no, it’s not excusing myself from the festivities at noon so I can get in line at Best Buy in anticipation of $19 flat-screen televisions that will be available in 12 hours. Black Friday and I parted ways the same year my kids stopped requesting to see Santa at the local mall.
No, I’m talking back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners.
That’s right, consuming turkey with all the trimmings on Wednesday and then repeating the ritual less than 24 hours later. That doesn’t mean consuming leftover turkey sandwiches or sneaking the remaining piece of pumpkin pie from the refrigerator before another relative discovers it.
No, this is going to be the entire spread, plus liquor, times two.
This might seem perfectly normal for extended families who cannot stand one another and, therefore, can’t put aside differences long enough to join hands at the table in prayer, even though a Trump-loving uncle may be squeezing the blood flow from the hand of his “Bernie is Best” niece in the process. I hear it every year when I ask certain friends and neighbors how they plan to spend their Thanksgivings.
“Well, we see my mom on Thursday, and we’ll spend Friday with my dad and his new wife.”
“So, your stepmom?”
“That’s not the word I would use.” (INSERT EYE ROLL HERE)
In my case, my brother-in-law, who normally hosts, leaves for a junior hockey tournament on Thanksgiving Day, lending further support to my theory that people who organize youth sporting events around holidays have no friends or family of their own. He graciously agreed to move the Thanksgiving feast forward 24 hours, letting my wife’s side of the family invade his personal space and dirty every dish in his house on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, this past year saw my immediate family moving to Tennessee. I assumed they would be eager to celebrate the holiday in their new environs. While I would surely miss their company, the idea of spending Thanksgiving Day watching football, uninterrupted and unshaven, had some appeal.
But, for various reasons, a good portion of my relatives will be in the Midwest during that time. Therefore, I have no choice but to open my doors, prepare a dinner and listen to several lifelong Illinois residents drop “y’all” into casual conversation. Trust me, I’ve heard it a few times and it sounds ridiculous.
That means I’ll be sticking my hand inside a turkey cavity at 7 a.m. on Thursday, while trying to shake off the mountains of food, not to mention the wine, I consumed the previous afternoon.
“Can’t we just have lasagna?” I pleaded with my wife.
“Absolutely not,” she replied. “People look forward to turkey all year.”
She has a point. Sure, you can walk into your neighborhood deli or fast food sandwich shop and come out with a turkey sandwich any day of the year. You can consume bacon, hot dogs and pizza toppings made from the delicious bird. But, I’m very confident the following conversation is never heard in any American household outside of Thanksgiving and possibly Christmas:
“What’s for dinner?”
“A full roasted turkey. With stuffing. And mashed potatoes. And sweet potatoes. And cornbread. And cranberry sauce. And a relish tray. And three kinds of pie. Now go wash up.”
I’m contemplating skipping certain dishes at the Wednesday festivities, thereby giving myself something to look forward to the following day. What if I don’t consume the green bean casserole on Wednesday and shun the crescent rolls Thursday? What if I prepare the turkey via an entirely different method when I host? I’ve heard good things about those deep fryers.
“Why don’t you consider yourself thankful for your health and that you will be fortunate to have lavish amounts of food on the table two days in a row when others are going hungry?” my wife said. “Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?”
Smart woman, my wife. I put my dilemmas aside and headed to the gym with a new November goal:
Instead of losing five pounds before Thanksgiving, lose 10.
Greg Schwem is a business humorist, motivational corporate comedian, corporate emcee, nationally syndicated humor columnist for Tribune Content Agency and creator of the web series, “A Comedian Crashes Your Pad.”