I’m glad Halloween is over.
It means I can now turn my attention to more important things, like salivating over Thanksgiving dinner.
Even as I emerge from a sea of “Fun Size’’ candy wrappers, I find that the mere idea of turkey and dressing triggers a Pavlovian craving.
Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday, mainly because it is the simplest. You eat. You watch football on TV. You eat. You nap. You eat.
It is, in my mind, a far more pleasant experience than Christmas.
Provided that you are careful not to burn the bird, there is hardly any stress associated with Thanksgiving.
It is a peaceful holiday. Families gather over the dining room table, hearts full of gratitude for the blessings we so often take for granted. And then somebody remembers that they forgot to put the cranberry sauce on the table. Then somebody wonders why it is that the Detroit Lions, who are always terrible, are on TV every year. Somebody asks if we’re going to get up at 4 a.m. to go Christmas shopping the next morning.
Ah, but the serenity of the holiday cannot be taken for granted, a lesson I have learned in recent years.
For this, I hold my daughter, Abby, personally responsible.
It’s not that Abby isn’t a sweet young lady. It’s just that she has one character flaw that cannot be traced, in any way, to genetics: She is a vegetarian. I go to Veg-Anon meetings twice a week, so I’m coming to terms with it.
When Abby decided to become a vegetarian four years ago at the age of 10, her mother and I didn’t try to argue her out of it. I was confident that within two weeks she would find the siren call of Burger King too great to resist.
But wouldn’t you know it, four years later she’s still a vegetarian, which compromises the peace at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Last Thanksgiving was particularly memorable. I had cooked the turkey to perfection and skillfully reproduced my mother’s cornbread dressing. There also were the other side dishes you associate with the holiday — mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls. I even made a tofu steak for Abby.
As I sat down with my son, Corey, and Abby, we bowed our heads for the blessing. I looked up to see Abby sitting there, her eyes moist with tears.
“What could possibly be wrong?’’ I asked in a pained tone.
“Nothing,’’ she said. “Well, it’s just so sad that a turkey had to die just because it’s Thanksgiving.’’
I reflected on this for a moment.
“Well,’’ I said. “You should have seen this turkey when I got him. He was plucked naked, His head had been cut off and he was frozen solid as a rock. I’m pretty sure this turkey wasn’t going to pull through, you know?’’
Abby could not suppress a smile and tranquility returned to our table.