Well, it's just about time to celebrate Thanksgiving. You know--that holiday we celebrated before preparations for Christmas got pushed to November 1.

I am surprised that Macy's, big retailer that it is (and fighting for its survival as a department store), hasn't caught on and rescheduled its parade to then.

But anyway, my house is decorated, and I plan to celebrate. And hopefully avoid the myriad pitfalls that accompany it.

Take, for example, salmonella poisoning. Which, thankfully, our family hasn't endured. But I figure our time may be up. So this year, I won't wash the turkey, Just seems wrong, though.

But everything I read says, “Assume your turkey has it.” So I'm standing at my sink, talking to this carcass.

“So, what's going on in there, you fat blob? Is your salmonella multiplying as we speak? Are you going to explode when I slit your plastic?” Not that the bird is talking; that would be the Stephen King version.

Well, I'll risk it, and set the oven to 350. I'm supposed to bake it to an internal temp of 160 for 20 min. per pound weight. I think I'll cook it to 260, and double the time, just to be safe.

Might want to throw out that Romaine lettuce this year, too. And no stuffing! Another culprit. Of course, I never stuff the bird. I prefer the three-weeks of leftovers from a dressing casserole.

Secondly, I won't run the risk of serving dinner at 7:00 instead of 4:00, because we're still waiting for Big Tom to get to 260. My sister miscalculated one year, and I don't know when she finally served her dinner. We left at 8:00.

I regretted not asking if we could just have all the trimmings and she could freeze the turkey for Christmas. But unlike her, I bake my turkey early, like maybe this morning. It gets all of the clean-up out of the way.

I also will not try to travel to her house in California to avoid the pandemonium that ensues when I host the meal. An estimated 55 million Americans will travel, though. Depending on the weather, many could end up camping out at the airport's Starbucks. If they're lucky, Subway won't run out of turkey for sandwiches.

Conversely, I will make the mistake of serving the three most hated Thanksgiving dishes (I know this is true, because I heard it on the radio): canned cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole.

Now why would I go to the hassle of making the sauce when I can just open that can? Although I just realized that I forgot to put it on my shopping list, and I am not going back to the grocery until New Year's.

I'm sure Libby's and Green Giant are oblivious to the green bean problem: it's a staple advertising tool at this time of year. Maybe they figure the blitz advertising will override our “hatred.” Except I'm a fan, anyway, as is, I assume, the rest of the family, especially my grandson, who asked for the recipe for his home ec. cookbook.

And as for those sweet potatoes, we never had them growing up. We were stupid northerners, you know. But transfer me to UK, and I discovered a new dessert. Who knew that brown sugar and marshmallows could turn a once-healthy vegetable into an 800 calorie side dish?

Of course, if you're already buried in Christmas preparations and want to avoid the time-consuming Thanksgiving preparations, you can always just go to a restaurant. The internet has a list of 40 that will or may be open, though not all will serve the traditional meal.

These include Cracker Barrel, Golden Corral, IHop (pancakes for Thanksgiving could start a whole new tradition), Waffle House (ditto, and they never close). Or you could go to Luby's (I regret that they misspelled my name).

At less than $12 a plate, even I am tempted by that one--except for the flight to Texas or Mississippi (see travel pitfalls).

Well, however you celebrate the holiday, I do hope that you will regard it as more than just a day that interrupts your Christmas preparations. Though, of course, like many Americans, the table conversation may finally deteriorate into an argument about who's gonna clean up the kitchen so you can head out to Walmart.

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