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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on November 14th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 36

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Give thanks and pass the dreidel

BY ARIEL WATERMAN


This year, Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 28. This is remarkable because so does Hanukkah, giving rise to a new name for the holiday: Thanksgivukkah! With this theme in mind, I have been pondering how to celebrate and decorate. What would Martha Stewart do? Should I bake a turkey with eight drumsticks? Stuff that bird with matzoh balls? Is there a frozen turkey out there with a pop-up dreidel? Shall I serve jelly doughnuts, a Hanukkah tradition, along with the pumpkin pie?

Hey, this could be fun! I wonder if the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature a special Bubbe balloon? She might look a little like me—wearing an apron and comfy shoes, underarms flapping, hair in a knot, and holding a wooden spoon. Her balloon handlers would toss chocolate Hanukkah gelt coins to the children along the parade route.

The Radio City Rockettes will escort Santa Claus down Madison Avenue in his sleigh. Ho, ho ho! He’d be right behind Hannu Klaus clad in blue and white velvet. Together they will usher in the eight days of light and the month of mad gift shopping. Oy, Oy vey!

At this time of the year, I get misty-eyed as I remember holidays past, and I take a moment to count my blessings. I tally up all the things for which I am most thankful as I cozy up in a warm throw blanket on the sofa in front of the fire.

OK, I’m lying. I’m huddled in my pajamas over my computer keyboard at 5:30 a.m., putting the finishing touches on my column. Which brings me to the first item for which I thank God: coffee!

There’s nothing like a big, strong cup of hot coffee, with milk and sweetener, to start the day. Better yet is a big, strong man to make that coffee and bring it to me. For that I have my husband, the Brit, who knows enough to keep his mouth shut in the mornings until I have had my first cuppa Joe. I reciprocate by keeping quiet and invisible during the British soccer games on the weekends. And that, my readers, is the secret to our successful marriage!

I am thankful to God for providing me with a comfort that has sustained me since childhood. When I was sad, it cheered me. When I was mad, it calmed me. When PMS took hold of my senses, it brought me back to reality. When menopause robbed me of my senses, it centered me. Never judgmental, consoling me when things got rough, and celebrating the good times with me, it has always been there for me. Thank you, God, for chocolate. Especially dark chocolate!

I am also reminded that man does not live by bread alone. He must have peanut butter, and so must I! Spread thickly on crunchy, warm toast like a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece and topped with honey, it is the breakfast of champions, especially when washed down with a strong cup of coffee! For these blessings I am most thankful.

I thought nothing could be better until Reese’s came up with dark chocolate peanut butter cups. These small miracles restore my faith every time I check out at the grocery store. Somehow at least one Reese’s package of heaven finds its way into my sack, nestled atop the fresh fruit and veggies.

Speaking of shopping, I am preparing to hunt and gather for our Thanksgiving Day feast and must find a turkey. I am so thankful for the technology that has made cooking the bird so much easier than it was in my mother’s day.

Thank you, Butterball, for pop-up thermometers so that I don’t have to burn myself trying to insert a poultry thermometer in just the right spot to check for doneness. And thank you for self-basting birds, freeing my time for more important things, like running to the store for cornstarch to thicken the gravy.

Thank you, Mr. Reynolds, for those magnificent oven bags, which cut bird-baking time down to a few hours, rather than an entire day. Those wonderful bags brown my turkey to a golden hue, contain the drippings for gravy, and make the meat moist and succulent. Winner, winner, turkey dinner!

Thanksgiving dinner, by the way, is my favorite because I love the sandwiches I make for days after, on delicious bread, with left-over stuffing and cranberries. You know what I’m talking about!

Most of all, I am thankful for my family. My husband, the Brit, reminds me every day how beautiful I am, even as I flit around the kitchen, wearing an apron and comfy shoes, underarms flapping, hair in a knot, and holding a wooden spoon.

My grandson, Britween, keeps me centered with his sense of humor and quiet insight. I recently found myself giving orders like a field marshal while cleaning the house. I then retracted them as I thought of more important tasks to be done first, only to revert to my original plans.

“You realize, Grandma,” he said quietly amid the havoc I was creating, “you are now arguing with yourself.”

Out of the mouths of 11-year-olds!

Finally, I am thankful for my mother. She passed on to me the best recipe for cornbread stuffing ever, and shared her incredible technique for making homemade cranberry sauce. The secret: orange zest and a touch of cloves.

She bailed me out of past Thanksgiving dinner disasters. This woman is better than the Butterball Turkey Hotline when things are going wrong and your bird is still frozen on Thanksgiving morning. Moreover, she taught me how to clean and prep a turkey, as well as how to avoid marrying one.

She made me love all kinds of vegetables when I was growing up and taught me new ways to prepare them. When I was a child, I thought like a child and, in my childish ways refused to eat the carrots, green beans, or sliced beets she served.

But Mom made me try them, telling me, “There are people in Russia who would kill to have fresh vegetables like these. Now clean your plate!”

So I cleaned my plate and grew to love every kind of vegetable all through the Cold War years. Now I serve them to my family, and never worry about hungry Russians who might take over America for our fresh veggies. Take that, President Putin! Grow your own fresh veggies. Happy Thanksgiving, Mom, and God bless you! You kept us out of war!

 

Ariel Waterman wishes her readers a very Happy Thansgivukkah! Send her a turkey with a pop-up thermometer and some chocolate Hanukkah gelt coins via her editor, Ryan Miller, at rmiller@santamariasun.com.