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In The Weeds: Thanksgiving Giblets

November 24, 2009


It’s been 146 years since Abraham Lincoln made his Thanksgiving Proclamation and officially declared the last Thursday in November as a day to lay down the groundwork for future heart disease, to gather in houses too small for gatherings, and to share awkward moments with relatives… “Hey, look at that.  A Garfield float.”  “Yep.”

It’s been at least six years since I’ve not worked on Thanksgiving.  I usually picked up a double shift in exchange for Christmas Eve off.  As a mom to two young boys, the Christmas moments easily trump the turkey moments.  You know, their big saucer eyes when you listen for Santa’s bells, the singing of Silent Night in church that makes you tear up, the magical excitement at bedtime … it’s all easily worth a double Thanksgiving shift.

My husband’s restaurant has always been closed on Thanksgiving, and he has spent the last several years with our kids at my mom’s house on turkey day.  But now that we are both off (i.e. I’m still unemployed), I asked if he wanted to stay home or make the 3-hour trek to my mom’s farm to join the extended family.  His response was pretty straight forward.  “I swear to God, I want a real Thanksgiving.  I want a good turkey, not a dry turkey, an effing great turkey.  And I want football.  And I want to drink.  Without those three things, it’s not even Thanksgiving.”

I hadn’t realized the suffering he had endured at the conservative, Southern Baptist, alcohol-free farm that is my mother’s house these last several years while I drank wine tableside with my guests at The Capital Grille.  “Okay hon, well, we can accomplish all of this.  You’re a chef, and you can be in charge of the bird.  I’ll insist that we change the channel from Fox News to football, and we can bring a flask.  That’s what flasks are for.  How do you think I got through high school?”

So before I drive into that hazy Thanksgiving afternoon of Glenn Beck and smuggled single-malt Scotch, I want to take a few moments to give thanks to my former co-workers for the great T-Day memories and to share a list that I affectionately call


  • Thanks for letting Grandma pay, you cheap ass grown man.  Sure, you passed on the traditional turkey and went straight for the 3-lb lobster and $22-per-glass Cabernet.  You know she was raised during the Depression and is going to freak when she sees the bill.  But she won’t take that out on you.  She’ll punish me by tipping 3% just to keep her pacemaker from going haywire.
  • Thanks for asking me for more free bread.  And butter.  And more bread.  And maybe a little more butter.  And a box for the bread.  I’m not really that busy with my other four tables of only-on-holiday fine diners.
  • Thanks for getting snippy with me when you think there is too much gravy on your turkey.  You know that it takes a thick, salty goo just to make turkey palatable right?  Order a steak next year.  We will all be happier.
  • Thanks for showing up 47 minutes late for your reservation.  Your table sat empty, as did my wallet, on one of the busiest days of the year.
  • Thanks for bringing in the whole dysfunctional family.  It’s been too long since I last watched Jerry Springer.
  • Thanks for offering me a glass of your deliciously expensive Pinot Noir.  No seriously this time.  Thank you.
  • Thanks for letting your kids scream and run around the table while throwing oyster crackers.  I was feeling like serving several courses to several tables was not really challenging enough for me.  Childcare and extra cleaning is exactly what I had in mind.
  • Thanks for sitting at the table for over an hour after we close.  As a factory-produced waitron, I don’t have any family of my own with which to share a holiday meal.
  • Thanks for coming in drunk and unbuttoning your pants after eating too much.  And for those quiet farts that you think nobody notices.
  • Thanks for not thanking me for waiting on you.  On Thanksgiving.

5 Responses to “ In The Weeds: Thanksgiving Giblets ”

  1. pancake on November 24, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I nearly wet myself. #1 – awesome.

  2. Sara on November 24, 2009 at 11:00 am

    As a Thanksgiving baby, I am partial to the holiday. As a ‘server’ for ten years, I know exactly what you mean. However, I have a Grandmother who ALWAYS leaves over twenty per cent, even when ten per cent was ‘acceptable’…in the fifties.

  3. Topper on November 25, 2009 at 9:38 am

    The obligatory gelatinous tribute to all things cranberry really puts Thanksgiving in the right perspective. Funny post, and pass the chainsaw.

  4. John Williams on December 2, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I took the grand ole day off too this year
    thought the same thing…well i wont miss….
    love the box for bread…happens all the time


  5. nativenapkin on January 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Very funny. Loved the list.

    When my daughter was a wee babe I worked in a hotel restaurant that was open 365, so I usually had to make a choice between Christmas or Thanksgiving. And even though Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for all the same reasons your hubby listed (food, alcohol, football without all the retail pressure of Christmas)I would always opt for Christmas for the all the same reasons you listed.

    Now that she is 14, I end up working at a hotel restaurant that is open Thanksgiving but closed Christmas Eve and Day. Believe me when I say the irony has not gone unnoticed.

    We also eschew the travel to the families’ houses not because we don’t get along, or that it’s too far; we just want to guarantee a great meal, so we just have to cook it ourselves. Over the past several years, we have invited select family members to join us and they have discovered that a turkey dinner can actually TASTE GOOD. Plus we live in Napa Valley so many of the guests at the restaurant I manage drop off “winery schwag” around the holidays so we always have great wine with the bird. And that’s how you create a “reverse commute” with the family. Now we just need to figure out how to get them to leave in a timely fashion.