Thanksgiving is a time of family. A time of reflection. A time of giving. And a time of stuffing. It is a time when a man or woman, sometimes a slightly intoxicated man or woman, crams their butter-coated hand into a turkey's butt. If this act were to be done to a live turkey, the person performing that act would immediately become famous, if they weren't already. They would be in all the headlines, on several talk shows, and asked questions like: "What were you thinking -- What was going through your head?" If there were video of this act, that person could instantly win ten thousand dollars on America's Funniest Home Videos.
I don't mean to be crass. Technically, it's not actually the turkey's butt. It's more of his 'back hole' -- or if I may be more detailed since my father was knowledgeable in the world of poultry, the turkey's 'two back holes' -- one larger 'back hole' that's really just the under side of the rib cage, and one above the turkey's hangy dangly thing that our family would cook, serve, and eat, but never discuss what it was exactly. When I was younger, my dad would joke with me that I should put that thing under my pillow and that night, the turkey butt fairy would come. I loved my dad more than anything but his sense of humor frightened me.
For me, Thanksgiving is also a time of un-stuffing ourselves. As the year winds down, we prepare ourselves to empty out the year that has passed and fill ourselves back up with the year yet to come... We think about the people in our lives that we love, that we lost, that we have yet to meet... Please ignore this paragraph. I was just trying to get my Rabbi turned on if he read this thing.
When I drive past a house during the holidays, and I see the smoke billowing out of a fireplace, I know, that inside that house, on that kitchen table, there's a turkey carcass, open-winged, open-legged, its body ripped apart and eaten by the entire family. If that turkey could talk, its last words would probably be, "I'll see you all in hell!! And which one of you ate my hangy dangly thing that used to be my ass!!"
But thank God, turkeys can't talk. They can only gobble. And they are a bird. A very nervous bird. You'd be nervous too if you knew that one day someone was going to cut off your head, and fill your butt cavity with stuffing. Although I know a few people that would welcome it. I can almost see them reading this right now, saying to themselves out loud, "You got that right!"
The holidays are about people. All people. Caring about the people in your life. Even though you may not see them anymore, talk to them anymore, have driven a wall between you and them that is irreparable... You know that one day... if you have enough money... they will come back to you. Unless they have what my dad used to call 'integrity.' If you had friends that are no longer your friends, perhaps it was the time to let them go. I've known people that only liked me for what money I had. I call those people, "Honey."
So as this time of thanks unfolds, be kind to each other. And be kind to the turkey. Think about the sacrifice he has made. If we give thanks, and bless this turkey for giving of himself, he won't curse us as we feast upon and eventually digest him. We all make sacrifices. That too is part of the holiday spirit. The giving, the receiving, the stuffing, and the excreting. Sometimes if it's your old Uncle Nate, it winds up being right there on the sofa. That's where slipcovers could come back in vogue. Perhaps only during the holiday weekend. I don't know why, but I picture Uncle Nate wearing an old beige suit with the pants buckled up way over his stomach, just below his breasts.
I do have a wish for you all. May all your holidays be filled with the blessings that life can bestow. And though, for all of us, in different ways, this has been a tough year, try to remember something my father taught me. Something I reflect upon that occasionally has helped me through a tough time... That at your moment of suffering, somewhere in the world, some unsuspecting turkey is about to have a fistful of gravy shoved deep into his ass.
So when you ask me, "Why do you love Thanksgiving, Bob? Is it the memories of the traditional Pilgrim garb of square buckles and square-toed shoes? Is it the festive holiday colors of brown and orange? Is it the cornucopias on the table with odd varnished vegetables we have never eaten...?" I can look you right in your eyes and tell you with complete certainty why it is that I love Thanksgiving...
It's the stuffing.