A few highlights from Thanksgiving, which I spent at my parents' place in Temecula (yes, I'm really behind):
- I ordered a turducken from New Orleans this year. We had traditional turkey on Thanksgiving day, and then the next night we branched out into the turducken. It arrived on dry ice and was simple enough to prepare. Thaw, cover, and bake in the oven for 4.5 to 6 hours, until the meat was at 165 degrees inside. Because it was mostly boneless, carving was much easier than with a normal turkey. The meat was tasty, seasoned with cajun spices. But in the end, I couldn't fully embrace the concept. Here's the problem: with the shipping price of over $30, a turducken ends up costing about $100. Yes, you save on some preparation time because it arrives cleaned, stuffed, seasoned, and ready to bake, but I didn't detect any synergies from embedding a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey. In fact, many people find it disgusting. I don't, but I also think you're better off just buying a duck, a chicken, and a turkey separately and preparing each as its own dish. The turducken was nothing more than the sum of its parts, while I was expecting something more.
- At every holiday gathering in our family, there is one comic sketch or movie that recurs in conversation over and over again. This year it was the David Blaine street magic spoof. Mike and Jason and Linda, among others, had sent it to me the week before, and on Wednesday night, while waiting for traffic to die down, I watched it at home. Brilliant, especially since James has shown me so many David Blaine street magic videos in the past.
- My parents live just on the other side of an Indian reservation. Just over the wall, on the reservation, is a house on the side of a hill. It's surrounded with a wooden fence, and on the fence is painted, in brown paint: "F*** U" (but without the asterisks). It has been there as long as I can remember. Somehow, on Thanksgiving, a holiday first celebrated between Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians, and given the subsequent history between the settlers from Europe and the Native Americans, that graffiti greeting seemed more appropriate than ever.
- A few of us did pay restitution to the Native Americans, in a way, by giving business to Pechanga Resort and Casino, the largest casino in California. Much to my dismay, those lucky few did not include me. It's a running joke now. Every holiday in Temecula, I want to make a pilgrimage to Pechanga, but no one will go with me and I feel so guilty about leaving the family to go by myself that I abstain.
- Other things that are a bit of a family tradition include some heated board game contest. This was the first family gathering in a long time which did not include such a contest. But it doesn't matter what the game is...it could be a game of pure chance, it always feels like a Yankees-Red Sox game. It's all giggles and smiles and hugs until a game is proposed, and then everyone dons their game faces.