At Thanksgiving, bird is the word

For the past several Thanksgivings, I’ve spent the holiday much like those attending the very first one in 1621: not watching football on giant plasma screen television with commentary coming out of the speakers so unnecessarily loudly there’s actual danger of perforated eardrums. I don’t know why I just don’t wear buckle shoes and complete the reenactment, which is complete with the religious persecution I face every year (in this case my religion is football and various types of alcohol).

Instead, it’s an odd affair where people sit around and converse with each other WITHOUT margaritas, which, frankly, always leaves me a bit unsettled. It’s like if you were attending New Years in Times Square in New York, but instead of everyone around you drinking, partying and watching the ball drop, they suddenly stop, put on various chicken costumes and do a massive choreographed dance number. Something about it is unnatural.

Thankfully, I’ve never had to actually cook a turkey before, preferring instead to assist in the weighing down of the couch activity. I’ve been told on several occasions that the couch is not actually a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and, therefore, the risk of it blowing away is minimal. However without a research paper published in the American Journal of Physics my view is the science isn’t in. I also must subtly lay my entire body across the couch or be forced to share territory with some seldom-seen relative. True, I’m usually in the way of a grandparent or something, but I’m sure her doctor would say that standing works the cardiovascular system better than sitting, and that anything that gets the heart moving is positive. So, from that perspective, preventing her from sitting down is actually improving her health! Of course, nobody ever thanks me.

Even when my house was somehow selected as the venue of choice for people to congregate and leave their coats on my bed, the turkey was provided. I’m more than willing to traipse out into the forest to shoot one, however I quickly learned that I’m less of a hunter and more of a guy that uses words like “traipse.” Plus, for some reason nobody wants to just give me a crossbow.

If going the supermarket route, I wouldn’t even know where to begin with turkey selection. How does one determine the size of bird to purchase? And to make me feel like more of a man in this pursuit, do grocery store managers disapprove of a friend tossing a frozen turkey down an aisle while I toss a net on it from above, perched on the top of a shelf? As any experienced hunter will tell you, prey tastes better when captured.

I’d likely look for a turkey the size of John Goodman, just to be on the safe side.

One tip I offer if you’ve somehow been talked into hosting Thanksgiving at your house: after you take everybody’s coats, instead of putting them all on the designated “Coat Bed”, take pictures of them and put them up on Ebay. This way you can recoup some of your costs. Just be sure when you ship them that one of your sister’s kids isn’t still in it. Relatives will ignore your entrepreneur spirit, instead fixating on this every single year after it happened even though it only happened ONCE and he was PERFECTLY FINE.

Tips for carving the Thanksgiving turkey

While I didn’t purchase, cook, monitor or take whatever is located inside the turkey (some kind of disgusting Cracker Jack prize?) out, because this was MY house the honor of butchering the bird that some ladies spent their time and money on was given to me to ruin.

After the ordeal I offer my tips to you, first-time turkey carver:

– Apparently using a gas-powered chainsaw is considered “the behavior of a crazy person” despite the fact that it’s cuts the time down in half and is, I guess, kind of a show. I mean, people PAY to watch chainsaw ice sculptors and you don’t get to eat anything when they’re done. Nobody appreciates the effort you make and many make irrelevant comments like “I taste sticks” and “Is this the same chainsaw you used to cut down that pine tree out back?”

– Do NOT randomly start stabbing the turkey like you’re a prison inmate settling a score. However this has the pleasant side effect of providing you with additional elbowroom at the table with surprisingly several open seats near your own.

– Serve OTHER people, I guess. Don’t just hack off a piece for you and hand the electric knife over to grandma. You’re supposed to trim some for EVERYONE, which doesn’t make any sense. If you’ve been given some kind of honor, shouldn’t someone be serving YOU?

With these tips in hand, there’s no reason why your next Thanksgiving won’t be a grand success. Just be sure it’s at someone else’s house. And keep your coat close.

Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications ( He can be reached at or via turkey call. Follow him on Twitter @pancake_bunny to tell him how thankful you are for knowing him (sort of) and being a great fan that enjoys bringing him pumpkin pie whenever he calls, like a weird pie booty-call.