Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Bucking Thanksgiving tradition


Bucking Thanksgiving tradition
But, still finding time to give thanks

Every year, Thanksgiving is a time for gathering the family together for turkey, gravy, Polish sausage, cranberries (with the ridges from the can still visible), stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cottage cheese salad, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie, several glasses of wine and a food coma.
Eventually someone will recover enough to put away the leftovers while a couple more people start the dishes. Three days later, the last of the leftovers end up in the garbage.
Making Thanksgiving even more of an endurance event, my family would celebrate Thanksgiving twice: once with my parents, and once with the Lovely Doreen’s parents. The alternative was to have everyone at my home. I hid in the basement the last time we tried that.
I’ve received some unhelpful suggestions over the years. My favorite suggestion is don’t cook the turkey in the oven or the Nesco, use a deep-fryer. Deep-fried turkey is really something that would only be tried in America. Do you want fries with that? How about deep-fried stuffing and cranberry sauce?
I’m surprised that hasn’t been tried yet at the State Fair.
I knew someone who had two families to feed and tried deep-frying the turkeys. He practiced in his garage with one turkey and it turned out great. On Thanksgiving, he set up two deep fryers and attempted to cook two turkeys. The heat from the deep fryers melted the garage door overhead, eventually setting fire to the garage.
So the Wigdersons are eating out. When I tell people this, people usually react as if I’ve committed some horrible crime against humanity.
“What kind of childhood memories will your children have when they grow up?” I think they’ll remember the fun of eating out with the whole family.
“Where is the tradition?” Hey, it’s tradition if we do it every year.
“How can you have a real family gathering at a restaurant?”
For 363 days out of the year, every other family gathering is OK to have at a restaurant. Birthdays, anniversaries, wedding receptions, Mother’s Day, graduations and baptisms are all acceptable reasons to make reservations at a restaurant. Even Easter is a popular day for going out for brunch. For some reason, on Thanksgiving and Christmas everyone is banished to their hovels to slave over stoves to feed the horde of relatives.
Last year, we tried eating out for the first time and I loved it. We went early to a favorite local Mexican restaurant, La Estacion. Everyone had a great meal and a great time. The kids loved the train cars. Those that wanted turkey still had plenty of time to throw a turkey in the oven at home and enjoy it during football.
This year we will be gathering around the dinner table at a local restaurant at a more traditional hour. As per our family tradition, here is a list of things for which we can be grateful this year.
I’m grateful for the recall elections, because a political column in the newspaper can always use more material.
I’m grateful for the Waukesha Common Council for taking a horrible city budget proposed by Mayor Jeff Scrima and acting City Administrator Steve Crandell and doing the best they could with it. I’m grateful that nobody will propose another garbage fee for another six or seven years.
I’m grateful that nobody will mistake me for Danny Gokey. One mob of autograph seekers is enough.
I’m grateful for the many people who have contacted me to let me know how much they appreciate my newspaper columns, and even for the few of you who think I should be run out of town.
I’m grateful for the copy editors that help make this column look gooder.
I’m grateful the city does not have an ordinance against putting up Christmas decorations on Nov. 1.
I’m grateful for my many friends for the laughs and unhelpful column suggestions.
But mostly I’m grateful for the love of my family, without whom this column would not be possible. I’m especially grateful to my wife, the Lovely Doreen from Waukesha, who has put up with me for 14 years.
Whether you are spending Thanksgiving at home or in a fast-food drivethru, cherish spending the time with your family this Thanksgiving.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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