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The Manure Spreader: Turkey Day traditions

Tim Moffett Published on 06 November 2014

Why must they have elections two weeks before Thanksgiving? It’s what I like to call the fuse that starts the argument at Thanksgiving dinner. One rule about voting: Do it. That’s it. You have now received Tim Moffett’s entire political wisdom.

Sometimes your candidate wins, sometimes they lose, but either way: At the end, it’s over. Like my grandpa used to say, “That’s just how the pickle squirts.” Thanksgiving dinner has been an American tradition since we discovered turkeys taste great.



Sure, we talk about the Indians and the Pilgrims, but if the first meal had been Brussels sprouts and only Brussels sprouts, the Dallas Cowboys wouldn’t be playing every fourth Thursday of November.

Now, I could talk about Thanksgiving food all day. Instead, I’d like to share with you my thoughts on how we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is celebrated in six stages. First stage: As a kid eating at Thanksgiving, dinner was always an adventure.

Mom, Dad and grandparents at one end of the table and me 45 feet away at the other end, only connected by a card table. Sitting with your cousins trying not to acknowledge who is wearing whose hand-me-downs. The food all started at the other end.

The stuffing was always cold, and it wasn’t cranberry sauce unless it looked like a can. By the time the food reached me, I was already eating leftovers. I was 18 years old before I knew a turkey even had white meat.

The second stage is what I like to call the wandering stage. At this point I was too old for the kids’ table and too young for the adult table. It was survival of the fittest, and I always got stuck sitting next to the worst-smelling relative. Still no white meat.


The third stage is a welcoming home from the military, college or living elsewhere. This is the sweetest stage. For the first time, you are well nestled in the confines of a folding metal chair. Today it is your throne, not at the head of the table but glad to have a place on the side.

At some point during the two-and-a-half-hour eating marathon, you will be called upon to share your opinion. How this question is answered is how you will be remembered at family reunions for life. Be ready! I had a cousin who was questioned while eating sweet potatoes, and to this day they still call him Stuttering Dave.

Stage four is the cruelest of them all. At this stage, you have decided to bring a stranger into the fold. This is someone you thought you might be compatible with for the future – a significant other. As you’re beaming with pride over having a date, the tables turn on you in a bad way. Your family begins to tell embarrassing stories of your childhood.

There is always at least one aunt who has photographic evidence of you bathing in a tub of strawberry jelly when you were 8. I do not think a child should be embarrassed for trying to preserve his youth. After dinner, your date informs you she just wants to be friends. I’ve done some unofficial research, and it shows that only 3 percent of dates brought to a family Thanksgiving dinner will return for Christmas.

Fifth stage: You finally made it to the head of the table. Two words: turkey leg.

Finally, stage six. At this stage in your life, you spend your time looking for a comfortable chair in your elastic-waist pants. While turning down your hearing aid, you wonder why the young kid next to you is sniffling like the smell of the food is bothering him. So my friends, no matter what stage you are at, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. PD


If you have a favorite story, tradition or need to vent about your family, share it with me at my website or Facebook me.