The weekly Daley: Christmas vs. Thanksgiving

By From page A4 | November 22, 2013

Far be it from me to go sideways with my managing editor, but I have to take issue with his depiction of Thanksgiving as just another Thursday to get through on the way to Christmas. Thanksgiving is the best.

Have you spent hours online buying Thanksgiving presents for all your kin near and far? I doubt it. Have you stood in long lines at the post office or UPS Store waiting for boxes and wrapping tape to bundle up gifts to send to North Carolina or Alaska? Perish the thought.

I have a shopping list for Thanksgiving, and it’s not about a “Tickle Me Elmo.” It’s about celery, two bunches. And it’s about potatoes, 10 pounds. Whether anybody prefers Idaho Golds or Twin Falls Platinums, I have no idea. And I don’t care, because when they’re all cooked up and mashed together with butter and garlic and maybe a little sage and turkey stock, will they really know the difference? Not likely.

Three pounds of butter should do it. Does anyone in your family hope they get three pounds of butter wrapped up fancy and put under the Thanksgiving tree? Fat (not trans) chance. Or how about parsley? How many of your tykes can’t wait to open a plastic bag of flat leaf parsley? None, because it doesn’t matter on Thanksgiving. How can you beat that for a holiday? I’ll tell you how. You can’t.

I need to get some whole milk because we only use non-fat all year, but some people like real milk in their coffee. Some people even prefer half-and-half, so I’ll get a pint of each this week. Getting half-and-half is about as easy as getting a pound of carrots compared to buying some Xbox thingy for the kid at Christmas. And indeed, I have a pound of carrots on my shopping list. I also need 12 onions. Imagine that under the tree on Dec. 25. That would be pretty close to getting 12 lumps of coal. But on Thanksgiving, you wouldn’t even notice, because they’ll be in the dressing and maybe in the gravy and who knows where else they might show up?

We already have a couple of cans of that cranberry sauce stuff, so I don’t need to get any of that. Hardly anybody eats it anyway. I already got the little bread crumb things to use for the dressing and didn’t have to go to Kmart, Walmart, Macy’s, Target or Amazon. Every grocery store has them. And no tot is apt to say where’s my little bread things that should have been in my stocking? Sorry kid, ha, ha, ha.

We need a couple dozen eggs and some bacon for T-day and the two days after. We have family who will be here throughout that part of the holiday. Whether or not they’ll want bacon and eggs is up in the air, but we’ll have them on hand. Nobody will complain that they didn’t have an Xbox for breakfast or a Super iThing for snacks. That’s just one of the things I like about Thanksgiving.

Whether it’s white bread or wheat bread or a sourdough roll for a turkey sandwich is not going to bring tears to the eyes of a 7-year-old. This or that “wrong thing” will. But that’s Christmas for you. Saying “I love you” with just the right Christmas gift is all well and good — and will last a few months or maybe a year — or maybe only until the next thing is unwrapped. Saying “I love you” with a drumstick and a plate full of mashed potatoes and dressing will last at least 24 hours — an incomparable 24 hours.

If there were no raw oysters at Christmas dinner would you be upset? What about bacon-wrapped shrimps on the barbie? Probably not. If those things weren’t at my house on Thanksgiving, I’d hear about it.

When the weather is nice we do all that on the back porch for a couple of hours before turkey time, and those who eat raw oysters can eat their fill, and tradition holds that you throw the shells over the railing into the backyard. I usually pick them up in May or June. No rush. When the weather is bad, which it has been a few times over the past 20 years, we do it anyway. We’ve done it with makeshift tarps and plywood and redwood lattice overhead, and no one ever complains because it’s Thanksgiving, and it’s what we do. Good luck pulling that off on Christmas.

“Daddy, I hate raw oysters and tequila for Christmas!”

“Well of course you do, Honey. Whoever heard of such a thing? Christmas is all figgy pudding and greasy goose. Thanksgiving is oysters and tequila on the deck.”

No tears. No disappointment. No guilt. Did you ever try to return oysters that didn’t fit? That’s my point.

And so boss, you can have Christmas for your favorite holiday. I’m sticking with Thanksgiving. I mean, if that’s OK with you.

Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday.

Chris Daley

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