A traditionalist’s guide to a green Thanksgiving

How to green your Thanksgiving...realistically.It would be just like a Norman Rockwell painting. Big turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, all the trimmings. I would prepare a feast to die for and everybody would congratulate me afterwards. How hard could it be?

Shortly before the guests arrived I realized I’d left the giblets in the festive bird’s rear end. For 6 hours. In the plastic wrapping. Smelled like something died, alright.

I learned a lot on that day 30 years ago. For example, did you know that KFC is open on Thanksgiving?

Admittedly, a green turkey day experience was not a priority with me when I was young. While I like to think I’ve evolved a bit since that time, there are certain things that must always remain the same in order to maintain the natural order of the holiday. For example, a nephew must perform a piano recital, we all must clap enthusiastically even though we have no clue what we just heard, and the Detroit Lions must lose. Decisively.

Guys tend to view Thanksgiving as their annual dietary “get out of jail free” card, their last chance at gastronomic glory. Convincing them to go green rather than to reach for that brass onion ring can be easier than you think, so long as you say all the right things.

In the spirit of facilitating a more harmonious Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve listed a couple of phrases that make Thanksgiving traditionalists bristle. Stay away from these words and you’ll find that everyone, traditionalists and non-traditionalists alike, will leave happy and stuffed.

Do not say:

“There Will Be No Football On TV”

Football is a religion for many of us. Especially on Thanksgiving. You don’t really want to mess with God, do you? He’s got plagues and locusts and stuff and he’s not afraid to use ‘em.

Instead say:

“The TV goes off during half-time”

You’ve got a dozen or so able bodied males in front of the TV who have had a feast at your expense. They’ve got two hands…and 20 minutes time on them until the second half starts.

Make them do the dishes by hand. They don’t need to use the dishwasher as that only wastes energy and if they work quickly, they can return to the TV in time for Janet Jackson’s next wardrobe malfunction.

Do not say:

“I decided not to over-cook this year”

There seems to be this misguided notion held by many that if you cook too much, something goes to waste. I understand the motivation but the idea that portion control is somehow going to save the planet on turkey day is nearsighted. Once you run out of bird, you run out of guests. You’ll find them at Hooters. At least there’s no shortage of breasts there.

Instead say:

“Package those leftovers”

Once a week we make a trip to our local homeless shelter. They are in desperate need of food and other necessaries and this is a great opportunity to help those less fortunate. Round up the unused, packaged foods and any other leftovers and donate them. Nothing goes to waste and you’ll feel good having shared something.

Finally, remember to say please and thank you and by all means, sprinkle the conversation liberally with I love you.

Think back to Thanksgiving holidays gone by. What are the things you remember most fondly? Chances are, whether they involve snapping the wish bone with your cousin or helping your grandmother prepare the gravy, you remember little about the food. It’s about family.

And the Lions game.

[Photo: Telstar Logistics/Flickr]

Richard Rossi is a blogger, humor writer and children’s book illustrator from Greensboro, North Carolina. You can buy his children’s book, The 12 Days of Christmas in New Jersey, at a Barnes & Noble near you or online at Amazon.com.

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