Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Hold the fries

New rules to follow on T-day


"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it."

Thomas Paine said that as he was assuming a horizontal position in his La-Z-Boy recliner in front of his big-screen TV, after overindulging on deep-fried turkey at one of the ESPN Classic Thanksgivings. I think the Redskins were playing the New England Patriots.

But I could be wrong.

I'm not sure about big-screen TVs in the 1770s. He probably listened to the game on the radio. Dinner was probably more like a boiled boot, if he was lucky enough to hunt one down in the woods and shoot it. Potatoes were pretty hard to trap, too, back in the day when they had real eyes.

Back in the day

He had to walk 20 miles uphill, into the wind both ways, to bring home a pint of Sam Adams.

Boy, they had it easy compared to the modern family that has to go over the speed traps and through the orange barrels to get to grandmother's house before the gravy clots and there's nothing left but turkey knuckles and green-bean casserole that has hardened like spackling compound.

But some things never change. As I was looking through Poor Richard's Almanac of Roadside Diners the other day, I came across these fictitious and gratefully forgotten Ten Commandments for Thanksgiving:

1. Turkey is a jealous bird. Thou shalt have no other pizza, burritos or Big Macs before it. Turkey-loaf and tur-duck-ens are cult rituals. If it doesn't have legs and a stuffing compartment, it's blasphemy.

2. Thou shalt not forget the cranberry relish. Serving cranberry relish on Thanksgiving is a traditional way to remind us why we never serve it the rest of the year.

3. Thou shalt not bogart thy gravy boat.

4. Honor thy Lions and Cowboys. Better to serve a turkey as dry as baked corduroy than to interrupt a game that is closer than 42 points.

5. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's giant TV.

Pass the casserole

6. Thou shalt not kill the spirit of Thanksgiving by ladling guilt on every plate. Vegetarians, environmentalists, experts on heart disease, Mothers Against Terry Bradshaw and People for the Ethical Treatment of Butterball Turkeys have 364 days of the year to annoy us. On Thanksgiving, they should remain silent or risk having their lips glued shut with green-bean casserole.

7. Warning: Deep-fried turkey may be hazardous to your health. If turkeys were meant to be fried, God would have stuffed them with fries.

8. No children at the Big Table until they can pass the gravy boat without drenching Grandma.

9. Honor thy founding fathers. Students who can't find the Pacific Ocean on a map of Hawaii need to know about the courage and sacrifice of men like Thomas Paine, who was actually talking about the wimps who think Saddam is "misunderstood.''

10. Honor the Founder upstairs, who gives us so many blessings to be thankful about.

No, not John Madden.

E-mail or call 768-8301.

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