Words & Banter

RED & BLACK ... What Would The Pilgrims Do?

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Thanksgiving's my favorite holiday of the year, but this year I feel like it's barely going to be a holiday. It makes me sad.


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Are you still going to have decorations throughout the house and your big inflatable turkey in the front yard?


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Are you kidding? He's my favorite inflatable and has been on our front lawn since right after Halloween! Inside, I pared down the amount of decorations years ago. Just enough to make it festive, but not overwhelming in terms of set-up and take-down.


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Are you still planning to cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner? I know the last few years it has only been a handful of people, and there are only two (Mom and me) who are not part of your COVID "bubble".


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Of course! I always make too much food so I can send Mom home with lots of leftovers. This year, I'll just be delivering it as a big care package and, like everything else I deliver, leaving it in the laundry room. Since she's almost 93 with pre-existing conditions, we haven't had face-to-face, or even mask-to-mask, contact since March. Anyway, I guess that means you'll want to place your "delivery" order.


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Actually, do not take this the wrong way, but now I have an excuse for not coming over and eating way too much. Especially as I am not a huge fan of turkey or dressing. Or, desserts. Although, if you get your usual Honey Baked Ham, I might want a few slices.


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Technically, you buy the ham and I merely pick it up and serve it. But I can probably get away with not making a zillion desserts this year. Since it will just be a few of us in the house, even with making everyone their favorite dessert, it will be a lot less work.


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The last few years I brought pies from Whole Foods to cover some of the "favorites" and I can do that again this year. I will just drop them off, wish everyone "Happy Thanksgiving" from a distance, grab my to-go order, and be on my way. In fact, I may become a "Thanksgiving Santa" and deliver pies to some other people, too.


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I used to bake cookies for the girls to give as Christmas gifts, but I've never thought about delivering Thanksgiving food to others. That could become a new tradition. And it could be as simple as just making extra portions of what's already planned.


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Which to some extent is what the Pilgrims did … they shared their good fortune and available food and crops with the Indians. So, is that not the true spirit of the holiday?


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Says the woman who doesn't cook. And never has people over to her home. But I guess one of the good things about a pandemic Turkey Day is that I can delete "cleaning the house" from my traditional Thanksgiving to-do list since there will be no one coming over to judge me.


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I can understand guests judging your sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce, but your housekeeping abilities? An issue the pilgrims did not have to worry about since their celebratory feasts were outdoor events. Although this year, they would be considered super-spreaders.


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Cute. I thought about doing something outside, but we don't have a large picnic table, the weather's never predictable, and it wouldn't necessarily allow you to socially distance when your masks are off to eat.


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We each need to be creative and find what works best for our situation. It will be the most difficult for people who usually travel to be with family or are used to having a large gathering for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. It does not mean that people cannot still "get together" and celebrate – whether it is having a "Zoom" Thanksgiving meal or just a smaller outdoor gathering where you visit but do not eat. But, for some, it may mean just visiting over the phone with people you are grateful to have in your life.


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Careful! You're starting to sound warm and fuzzy. Anyway, every year I have a list of people I either call or text on Thanksgiving. Because it'll be a much smaller and "easier" Thanksgiving means there will be more time to spend with them.


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It also frees up time to stop and give thanks. To appreciate what you have in your life.


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Yes, which to me is the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Although I'll admit I have my own special traditions.


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Do I even want to know?


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Probably not. I wake up, turn on "The Godfather" movie marathon on TV, and start cooking. I love the break from my normal routine and having the freedom to cook all day, coupled with the feeling that it means fall's really here, even if the thermometer doesn't always indicate that.


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Sounds like your Thanksgiving traditions will continue, although modified slightly.


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Yes, it will definitely be a bit different. And, on a good note, maybe even less hectic. Maybe I'll even be able to earmark time to just "chill" and quietly give thanks for the positive things in my life.


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The Pilgrims would be proud.


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So, what are your plans since you won't be eating with us? Oh wait, let me guess. You'll be working on Red & Black so you can have uninterrupted peace and quiet.


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Exactly. Because that is my Thanksgiving tradition.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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