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November 28, 2002

by Bill Hogan


Originally posted Thanksgiving 2001 and revised for Thanksgiving 2002 – gotta go baste the turkey.

It’s the time of the year when a sportsfan’s three favorite activities – eating, drinking and watching sports - get together for a well deserved and desperately needed four day weekend.

Thanksgiving. A time to give thanks. A time to recognize and appreciate all that we have.


A fifty-two inch television, a six-foot leather sofa and a twenty-one pound bird that used to answer to the name Thelma (make that a 24-pounder named Louise, the boys are getting bigger).

Celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter for starters; followed by pimento filled olives, a cheese and cracker platter and the kickoff of the Patriots-Lions game. I love Thanksgiving.

My wonderful and thoughtful wife will have the turkey perfectly timed to be carved and served between games.

The table will be lavishly decorated and well stocked with all our favorite foods. First and foremost, the plumper Louise. I have to ask: why is Thanksgiving one of the few times a year we get to eat turkey? It’s not like we couldn’t go to the market and buy a turkey anytime we want. How come there always has to be an occasion?

Can you imagine coming home from work on a Tuesday to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings? I guarantee your first thought would be “what’s the occasion?”

And why does the Thanksgiving cook find it necessary to make the side dishes more complicated than they have to be? I don’t want pearl onions in my peas, I don’t want sauteed almonds in my string beans and I definitely don’t want my yams ‘candied’.

But then, I’m a meat and potatoes guy. Except on Thanksgiving – when I want to see a big bowl of mashed turnips on the table (or is it rhubarb?).

And stuffing. Or is it dressing? Can anyone tell me what is the difference between stuffing and dressing?

What about sweet potatoes and yams? Isn’t a yam the same as a sweet potato? If not, why not?

Is succotash just a fancy word for mixed vegetables? Every other day of the year we have mixed vegetables. On Thanksgiving, we have succotash. If you add a lima bean to mixed vegetables, is that what makes it succotash?

Keep the cranberry chutney down at the other end of the table (along with the acorn squash and creamed Brussels sprouts) and open up a can of good, old-fashioned cranberry sauce.

I still don't know what type of wine goes with turkey. But I'm more convinced than ever, however, that a chilled blend of hops and barley malt goes with everything from pickles to pretzels.

Forget about last year's tip to (halfheartedly) offer to help with the dinner dishes. I learned the hard way that Aunt Betty isn't always going to insist that she clean up. Though she's done it for as long as I can remember, I failed to recognize that the years have caught up to dear Aunt Betty.

(This year I'll quietly excuse myself from the table, grab a big slice of pumpkin pie and try to beat Aunt Betty to the couch for the start of the Redskins-Cowboys game.)

Don’t forget about the all-important post-meal nap. It’s essential for the marathon eater, drinker, sports watcher.

No Brian's Song for me this year. But I'll keep the Kleenex handy when I catch the ESPN Classic SportsCentury profile of Ernie Davis. A star running back at Syracuse University, Davis became the first black recipient of the Heisman Trophy in 1961. Ernie Davis would never play professional football. He was stricken with leukemia and died in 1963 at the age of 23.

For the late night sportsfan, college basketball’s Great Alaska Shootout 2002 and a cold turkey and cranberry sandwich are waiting for you at midnight eastern time. (On the west coast, you may still be working on that peach cobbler Aunt Martha brought with her from Idaho).

Get some rest, there’s plenty of turkey chili and college football on Friday and Saturday.

We’ll have open faced turkey sandwiches with giblet gravy and a full compliment of NFL games on Sunday.

Or turkey-jerky and NASCAR if that's more your speed.

I think about the family and friends I have in my life and I am very thankful. I hope you all have plenty to be thankful for too. Happy Thanksgiving, sportsfans.


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