November 23, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving! And I mean that! And with the influx of people here in the west, turkeys are hard to come by. When I am done writing this, it is off to Dan’s grocery. On Saturday, they were out of turkeys! Really! Out of turkeys five days before Thanksgiving. The guy promised they were getting a load in this morning, so I’m going to hold him to his word. And with the forecast sounding great, I’m ecstatic that the guests will get here safely, and more importantly, get out of here. I’ll tell you why.
Thanksgiving around our place is quite a family tradition. For 40 years, Shirley has prepared a gigantic feast for the relatives. Now, I’m not talking just a few. We usually feed from sixty to seventy people. The only difference between our place and the soup kitchen in Minneapolis is the guests drive up instead of walking.
We borrow tables from the neighbors, or St. Anthony Club, where I have a vested interest (it’s a bar disguised as a church). We line the tables up for the big people and set up card tables for the kids. There is prime rib, turkey, ham, pies, sweet potatoes, cranberries (you talk about sales people, the ones that can sell cranberries have got to be the best), mashed potatoes, pies….. The first Pilgrims would be jealous.
About 15 years ago, a blizzard hit. Now, I mean early that morning, a few lazy flakes started to fall. About 10 o’clock, it was getting serious. When the guests all arrived, it set in like one you had never seen. Visibility was zero. Roads started blocking. By dark, North Dakota was shut down. And we were snowed in with fifty in-laws.
On Friday, it was still storming. No travel. We ate the leftovers for dinner. The poker game which had begun on Thursday afternoon continued. A pinochle game broke out. Someone borrowed my toothbrush. We ate more leftovers for supper.
On Saturday, we had to butcher a fat steer to feed everyone. No travel. The roads were impassable. A lot of my relatives were uglier than I had noticed before. The poker game continued and the beer and wine were gone. It was a crisis.
On Sunday, tensions were mounting. Butch had been caught cheating at pinochle. We were out of meat again and I wouldn’t butcher another steer. Bob put on snowshoes and went after venison. I was calling the county snow plow and telling him it was a life or death situation. I was afraid we were going to end up like the Donners. Remember them. They ate each other.
On Monday, I called the county sheriff. I filed a complaint against a brother-in-law for peeking in Seven Card No Peek. He said that wasn’t against the law. I never voted for him again. On Monday afternoon, I had the radio on and I heard they had reopened Highway 22. I started throwing people out.
I figure that Thanksgiving cost us $1,468.28, not counting mental anguish. It was a holiday to remember. Now you know why I prefer Groundhog’s Day.
I can remember two kind of embarrassing deals on Thanksgiving. One happened when someone was putting on coffee. We’ve got 40 people seated at the main table, when one of Shirley’s sisters opens our big coffee pot to make coffee. In it was a note from a young lady who had been my clerk during my legislative years. She had sent a mushy note home thanking me for being such a handsome and wonderful guy. It was a little personal. Not meant to be read in front of your wife and mother-in-law. The note was signed “Love you always, Judy.” I got redder than the cranberries and choked on a bite of turkey.
The other time, I swear the devil made me do it. My mother-in-law says in front of seventy people, “Don’t you just love Shirley’s dressing?”
I replied, without thinking, “The only thing better than her dressing is her undressing!” Mothers don’t like to hear that.

Happy Thanksgiving!