Pull up a toadstool, all you little ones. Snuggle up by the gas-powered fire (I know, the planet, my God, the planet) next to your Mom and her 1,200-fill goose down parka, or her garden-variety Slanket, as the case may be — and partake in what is sure to be a season of Holiday Good Cheer, and other stuff.
But first: Some holiday survival advice from your intemperate Uncle Ron.
Don’t look now, but this all starts with Thanksgiving, which, remarkably, is now upon us, hovering like a fruit fly over the collective rotting apple pie that is our daily lives. Good news: There’s still time to not botch it up and have the visiting family of the Significant Other seek an immediate restraining order.
Turkey tips from a non-obsessive, non-expert
Don’t sweat the turkey. You should get a turkey, yes. You can buy a fresh, organic one like the local trust-funders, or just get the frozen bowling ball version at a fraction of the cost, like all the rest of us.
Two prep methods lead the pack.
Turkey Method One (Martha Stewart/Too Much Time on One’s Hands Method):
1) Clear out every single morsel of food/beverage in your fridge — down to that plasti-pack of fresh-thyme detritus that got shoved into the back of the bottom shelf at this time last year — and put your frozen turkey bowling ball in there on a sheet pan.
2) Wait six to seven weeks for turkey to thaw.
3) Or go back to Fred Meyer on Wednesday afternoon and pick up a pre-made box of turkey breast slices, along with other side dishes. Serve.
Turkey Method Two (Ordinary Folks’ Alternative):
1) Leave frozen turkey in freezer until exactly 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.
2) Unwrap your bouncing baby bowling butterball, slather with more butter, salt, pepper, pop into the oven at 350ish.
3) Go watch the televised Thanksgiving “parade” coverage (see below).
4) Return in several hours to excise giblets packet from thawing/cooking turkey — the only troublesome thing about this method for some folks.
5) Finish roasting for another several hours.
6) Serve and enjoy!
Important note for crabby traditionalists: Uncle Ron has successfully cooked dozens of turkeys this way. Allowing Tom Turk to thaw/cook all at once is 100% FDA approved, and in fact is a good way to keep the, ahem, fecal soup that comes from any thawing bird product from infecting your fridge, your countertops, your loved ones and your entire neighborhood.
Cooking from frozen also allows full devotion of your fridge for the days leading up to Thanksgiving for the other essential food groups, by which we mean blue-cheese-stuffed martini olives, bourbon-soaked cherries and a mystery bag of leeks someone bought for some reason.
Seriously, you can look this up. It only requires adding about 50% total time to your turkey roast. That’s it.
Important epicurious safety note: Please exercise the common sense God gave a goat and do not attempt to cook a fully frozen turkey in a hot-grease, flame-powered turkey fryer. It might be the last and most stupid thing you ever do, and the carnage will be visible from the orbiting International Space Station.
Make your own stuffing, potatoes and whatnot (rule of thumb: 4 ounces of whatnot per person), even adding the traditional godawful but highly popular casserole in which tangled webs of frozen green beans are converted to a delivery vehicle for French’s crispy onions and delicious Cream of Lard Soup.
Also: Please, for the love of all that is bog-grown and tart-holy, don’t overlook the pure holiday delight that is a quivering mini-tower of gelatinous cranberry matter, which miraculously maintains the shape of its delivery-vehicle can, right down to the seams around the sides. Holiday magic!
Thanksgiving entertainment division
Fortunately, the Hollywood writer’s strike has ended, unleashing what must be a substantial logjam of trite holiday jokes fed on cue cards to inebriated talk show hosts sitting in human-sized terrariums on the routes of various holiday parades around America. This turns what once was coverage of a mildly amusing train of parade vehicles through the streets of, say, New York City — marked by giant inflatable likenesses of iconic American cartoon figures such as Woody Woodpecker, Snoopy and Lyndon Baines Johnson — into a sub-rate floor show. The entire thing is one long bathroom break.
Friendly family banter section
Two rules about holiday gatherings that do not end in open warfare or involvement of the local Dispute Resolution Center, which has enough problems on its hands dealing with clergy and faculty at local institutions of higher learning. 1) Don’t talk about politics. 2) Don’t invite people who are incapable of not talking about politics, because they will attempt to influence everyone else who exhibits the marginal self control required to actually not talk about politics.
You know who they are. We know who they are. Act accordingly. Sometimes you’ve just got to lock the doors, shut the blinds and listen to Al Roker in peace.
Shameless newspaper plug section
Wherever you’re going for the holidays, be sure to take a copy of this week’s newspaper with you. (This does not apply if you are a digital-only person, to whom we say, bless you, but if you take a digital version of CDN to any gathering you’re just going to be That Person Trying to Show Everyone Something on a Phone or Tablet.)
Instead take the paper version, which can be left behind as a friendly reminder to save local journalism — and more!
Note that our newspaper is printed on heavier, brighter stock than your typical newsprint of competitors. This is a public holiday service from us to you. In addition to serving as your local news source, we make a darn good leftover wrapper or carcass-disposal apparatus.
Happy Holidays from our press to your hearth. And remember: the New York Times would upcharge you for that.
Ron Judd's column appears on Fridays; firstname.lastname@example.org; @roncjudd.