Monday, February 26, 2024

Kvelve's Comments: 'Merry Thanksmas'

| November 27, 2019 7:23 PM

Not sure how this happens every year, but it’s already Thanksgiving again.

Seems like I just put up my outdoor Christmas lights a short time ago and took them down after New Year’s like I always do. That was a whole year ago.

Now I get why some folks never take down their outdoor decorations, something that used to be a mild irritant to me.

You would think as you get older (I’m now 65) time would slow down, much like the pace of life I’ve found in small town Montana.

But nooooo, it’s speeding up like some out of control underground particle accelerator.

At this rate, we’ll have to come up with a catch-all holiday phrase like Merry Thanksmas.

Fortunately, Thanksgiving has left me with many wonderful memories. For one thing, I LOVE turkey! I’m a white meat guy, which was always good for me because many others in my family and among friends like the dark meat.

Either way I’m cool, just prefer the breast meat but will eat it all.

The big loser, I figure, is the turkey. One minute you’re gobbling and prancing around the turkey pen and the next you’re getting bread crumbs and onions and celery crammed up your behind.

You spend hours sweating in an oven, simmering in your own body fluids amid copious amounts of butter.

Another Thanksgiving Day dinner favorite of mine is stuffing with gravy. That’s the thing, I’m convinced, that ultimately causes the top button of your pants to be released before it shoots across the living room into to grandpa’s third booze loaded eggnog.

Being Norwegian, I am a big fan of lefsa, the thing best described as a potato tortilla. Butter one side, sprinkle it with a little sugar, roll it up and add more carbs to your already saturated meal. I do not care!

I doubt any of the original Thanksgiving participants gave a rat’s behind about calories, or carbs or any other current day health worry. Hey, it was time to eat and the table was full of food.

On a few of those feasts, my grandmas, Sena and Inga, were in attendance. Being true Norwegians they pushed the limits of cuisine sensibility by insisting on preparing and eating….lutefisk.

Yup. Lutefisk is cod soaked in lye, then boiled and/or baked until it reaches its disgusting gelatin-like state. It smells so bad we used to set up a card table for the grammas that was well away from the main table.

I tried a bite once, and I emphasize once. Tasted like rotten fish, which I suspect lutefisk means in ancient dialects.

Worst of all, it feels like snot running down your throat.

OK, enough of that. There was always a big jiggling plate of tomato aspic at the table. Probably isn’t really called aspic, should be called tomato suspect. Tomato jello with sliced green olives.

Yum to some, not to me.

Overall, I ate really well. Loved having relatives over or going to their homes.

There were always good homemade pumpkin and apple pies, lots of good veggie dishes and a big bowl of REAL gravy, thanks to the sweating birds.

And even though there were only three TV channels in those days, and, gasp, no remote control, there was always the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade followed by a football game or two. That was time to kick back, loosen the belt and fall asleep on the couch thanks to L-tryptophan, the amino acid in turkey that makes folks sleepy.

And with the possible exception of a bakery, is there a better food smell in the world than turkey dinner in the oven?

Of course, there was always a spirited game of Tripoli or canasta underway at the big card table. Don’t remember much about how to play those card games but I know we all had a great time.

Laughing with family is one of the true joys in life in my opinion. By the end of the feast, the hot toddies with rum had kicked in and normally laid back aunts, uncles and cousins became entertainment.

Looking back on it all, I’m very thankful for so many things, past and present.

I used to not like it when someone would say, just after the blessing and before my fork loaded with turkey and cranberry sauce was entering my pie hole, “before we eat, let’s go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for this year”. Now, I’m okay with that.

Here goes…I’m most thankful for the health and happiness of my three children.

All are grown and doing well in the jungle. I’m thankful they all found really good spouses whom I consider two more daughters and one more son!

I’m thankful for becoming, at long last, a grandpa! Now I can pester people with pictures of the little guy on my cell phone. And yes, he is the cutest kid ever born!

I’m thankful for this late in life opportunity to write again. It’s been 35 years since I was a “cub” reporter for the Spokane newspapers. The organization for which I now work took a chance on this big goof and I’m extremely grateful!

Most of all, I’m thankful to be back home in Montana after being gone so long. In the few short months I’ve been meeting and writing about the good folks of this area I’ve had my faith in people boosted big time.

We are an independent bunch for sure, but that’s OK!

I hope everyone has a truly great Thanksgiving.

God bless our troops and veterans whose sacrifices have allowed this blessed tradition to continue all these years.

Have a great meal and a wonderful day.

Christmas is the day after tomorrow I’m pretty sure.

Chuck Kvelve Bandel is a reporter for the Mineral Independent and Clark Fork Valley Press. You can look for his “Kvelve’s Comments” column weekly.

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