Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

November 18, 2012

Garret Leiva: Enough of everything, plus

The fourth Thursday in November is a time to give thanks — for lumpy gravy and antacid tablets.

While the economy remains drier than an overcooked turkey, Thanksgiving is a chance to take our elbows off the table in appreciation of the simple things.

Food, fellowship and football add up to a day of thankful reflection and belt-loosening indigestion.

Thanksgiving smacks of conspicuous consumption in the guise of a national holiday.

Here's food for thought: According to the Caloric Control Council, the average American packs away more than 4,500 calories and 229 fat grams on Thanksgiving Day.

The fat content alone is akin to noshing three sticks of butter. How about an angioplasty with those mashed potatoes?

I find myself hungering for a Thanksgiving stuffed with tradition — and not just the age-old white or dark meat dilemma.

My family is Jell-O-salad-with-banana-slices Thanksgiving traditionalists.

We are not alone in our staunch adherence to tried-and-true with all the trimmings.

According to Internet-based statistics culled from sources more questionable than mincemeat pie, 91 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day. We did try the other 9 percent. However, no one likes to talk about the Tofurky incident of 2003 — not even the vegetarians.

Our Thanksgiving spread is part of the 40 million green bean casserole contingency. However, dried French onions versus potato chips topping can be a contentious table topic. At least my uncles no longer arm wrestle over the turkey gizzard.

While we outgrew the kids' card table decades ago, the Thanksgiving carving knife was just recently passed to my generation. It seems the "kids" had to be over 40 before being entrusted with a sharp utensil.

At this rate my 10-year-old daughter won't slice a turkey until 2042. I might not have my own teeth by then.

Honestly, I'm fine with taking a Thanksgiving backseat — as long as I can reach the stuffing.

After the last gravy-soaked plate is cleared, it's time for the post-Thanksgiving dinner ritual. First your belt is let out a few notches — unless you had the gluttonous foresight to wear sweatpants. You then fall into a couch cushion or a nearby first cousin. To make the most of your tryptophan food nap you'll need one last sleep aid: Detroit Lions football.

By the annual fourth-quarter debacle, Thanksgiving comes full circle around the dessert table.

Three hours ago you were inhaling fistfuls of black olives; now you can barely stomach the thought of pumpkin pie.

It makes me wonder how the first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. I guess the pilgrims knew how to pace their intake of seethed lobster and salet herbs.

After all, the New World offered a cornucopia of thanksgiving but it lacked 24-hour convenience stores and antacid tablets.

Thankfully, or not, we lack neither.

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