Most columnists are tempted to write about Thanksgiving this time of year. It’s an obvious, inexpensive way to mark the season.
A Thanksgiving column can be a heartfelt listing of the blessings enjoyed, the obstacles overcome, the tryptophan in the turkey, whatever moves one to write a few days before the annual holiday.
Some smart aleck columnists will put a pall on this national observance, making up stuff about the angelic properties of the pilgrims or the native Americans, adding bigger than life heroics or satanic intent to one side or the other.
They manage to morph Thanksgiving into an extreme of good or evil, with no common ground, no nuance, no clue. Turkey Day can slide into a yelling match over the TV remote or a food fight at a table full of goodies.
Some relatives or neighbors can find something to argue about with every bite of stuffing. Or is it dressing? There, that’s enough to create a battle which deserves no more than a quibble at best.
I have a friend who claims his fractious family once got into a heated battle over whether a green been casserole was an appropriate side dish.
We hear tell of some people whose faces scrunch up in revenge, fury or worse as they struggle for dominance over the wishbone.
One small suggestion about that: Anyone who get’s that riled or beguiled about the power of an inert, baked turkey bone may not respond well to even mild criticism of his wishbone-related behavior.
The best response might be to do or say nothing more incendiary than, “Aren’t we all glad we’re not related to Alec Baldwin?”
Mince pie also can start arguments that would turn a Norman Rockwell family gathering into a Taliban IED workshop. Generally my plan is to not bring up such fiery questions about mince such as, “Why?” The answer is, fruitcake, or rather, the phenomenon that is fruitcake.
Remember, some people really do buy, serve and consume fruitcake. As you may know, the town of Claxton, Ga., claims to be the fruitcake capital of America, a title also claimed by a firm in Corsicana, Texas.
Fruitcake is big in Claxton. A year ago the mayor told NPR that the town of 2,000 humans revolves around fruitcake.
I think fruitcake has a place in every American home during this Thanksgiving/ Hanukkah/Christmas period. Its role could be that of a peacemaker. Here’s why:
Jokes about fruitcake abound. Maybe the best-known laughster was the late, great Johnny Carson. He offered the theory that there is just one fruitcake in the world. He says it gets gifted and regifted every year, going house to house, door to door.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan, who loves regular cake, has this assessment of fruitcake, “Fruit, good; cake, great; fruitcake, nasty crap.”
Some say fruitcake has non-edible qualities too, as in these from :
Use slices to balance a wobbly kitchen table. Makes good railroad ties, road speed bumps and bowling pins. My favorite is to save the holiday fruitcake for next summer’s garage sale.
Maybe all this humor might save a few holiday tables from angst, anger and animosity this year. If so, my work is done. So is this column.