I know that you were eager to accept our family’s invitation to Thanksgiving dinner when you found out that the famous Martha Stewart would be joining us. However, due to scheduling conflicts beyond her control, Ms. Stewart finds that she is unable to grace our table this year. With that in mind, there will be a few minor changes regarding the meal and décor, as outlined below. Please be aware of them, and adjust your appetite and dress appropriately. Thank you.
1) Our driveway will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After several trial runs and two visits from the fire department, it was decided that, no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.
2) Once inside, please note that the entry space will not be decorated with swags of Indian corn and fall foliage. Instead, I’ve gotten our daughter involved in decorating by having her track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was her idea.
3) The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this is Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the paper Cinderella dinner plates, the leftover Halloween napkins, and my famous Garfield cup collection.
4) Our centerpiece will not be a tower of fresh fruit and flowers. Instead we will be proudly displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper and macaroni. The artist assures me it is a turkey, albeit one without wings, legs, or a beak.
5) We will be dining somewhat later than planned. However, our daughter will entertain you while you wait. I’m sure she will be happy to share every choice comment her mother made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims, stuffing choices, the turkey hotline, and, especially, her husband. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 7:00AM upon discovering that said husband had only remembered to pull the turkey from the freezer at 6:00AM, and that the thing was still hard enough to cut diamonds.
6) As an accompaniment to our daughter’s recital of these events, I will play a recording of Native American tribal drumming. Curiously, the tribal drumming sounds a great deal like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, but that only enhances the holiday appropriateness. If our daughter should mention that we don’t own a recording of Native American tribal drumming, ignore her. She’s only eight; what does she know?
7) A dainty silver bell will not be rung to announce the start of our feast. We have chosen to keep our traditional method of assembling when the smoke alarm goes off.
8) There will be no formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask all the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. And I would like to take this opportunity to remind our younger diners that “passing the rolls” is neither a football play nor an excuse to bean your cousin in the head with bread.
9) The turkey will not be carved at the table. I know you have seen the Norman Rockwell image of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. Such a scene may occur somewhere in America, but it won’t be happening at our dinner table. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in the kitchen at a private ceremony. I stress “private”, meaning “Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children, or older, helpful grandparents into the kitchen to check on my progress. I have a very large, very sharp knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win the battle. When I do, we will eat.”
10) For the duration of the meal, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Kraft Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or makeup of the Kraft Cheese Sauce, smile kindly and say that you know the answer, but it’s a secret that can’t be revealed to them until they are 18.
11) Instead of offering a choice among 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You still have a choice: take it or leave it.
That concludes our list of alterations. Again, I apologize that Martha will not be joining us this year. Come to think of it, she probably won’t come next year, either. And for that, I am indeed thankful.