Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving lessons

"I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose."
~ Woody Allen

1940 photo by Jack Delano, a photographer for the Farm Security Administration. 
For more about this photo, visit the Library of Congress Prints and Photos blog.

These are some of the lessons I learned on Thanksgiving 2012, including a few I re-learn every year.
  • It is best to "shake well" before you open the can of evaporated milk.
  • I buy sugar once a year, always on Thanksgiving morning (because I always forget).
  • The ground cloves in my kitchen almost certainly date from the last millennium. 
  • All of my pie pans but one have migrated to my daughter's house. 
  • There's always a little too much pumpkin pie filling – just enough for a couple of great mini-pies.
  • Cats are not immune to the eat-until-you're-ill theme of the day.
  • Something is always too salty. 
  • I have never met anyone who likes turkey wings*.
  • I am grateful for tea towels.
  • References to "doorbusters" are a heinous linguistic blight at this time of year. 
Speaking of the cashification of Thanksgiving, linguist Ben Zimmer decimated the myth that "Black Friday" has anything to do with profitability. To learn what it's really about, read his 2011 Visual Thesaurus article. This morning I asked him (via Twitter) if he's written anything about "doorbuster" – he hasn't – but he directed me to Oxford Dictionaries, which first included the word in 2006, when he was an editor there. It has a surprising second definition. Update: The unfailingly polite Ben Zimmer sent me a follow-up note (tweet) today directing me to this comprehensive entry from Barry Popik's blog.

* Another update: After I posted this, a Facebook friend said that she does like turkey wings "as long as they're crispy."

"I'm thankful to be breathing, on this side of the grass. Whatever comes, comes."
~ Ron Perlman

Bonus! For those who had a less than blissful thanksgiving, watch this video and discover it could have been worse. 


  1. That second definition of "doorbuster" is new to me--thanks! It reminded me of "blockbuster," which now has a generally positive connotation (reinforced by Blockbuster video stores) but at one time meant something altogether more sinister:

    1. Hi Nancy. I'm familiar with the old meaning of "blockbuster" from personal experience. When I was a little kid, we lived in an all-white town with a nearby ghetto for the people of color. Then a doctor, ironically named Dr. White, sold his house to a black family. A lot of idiots got irate about it and accused the real estate broker of blockbusting. That, along with seeing the riots over "the Little Rock nine" on TV, radicalized me before I turned 10.

    2. Nancy, I just updated the post with some new information on "doorbuster" from the lovely Mr. Zimmer.