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  • Hey Gang, instead of sending out our holiday letter at the last minute, I’m handling it on Xgiving because this year we aren’t having family over. We’re still having turkey of course but at my wife’s sister’s, which means my hands are free to type because they won’t be covered with third degree burns from trying to deep fry Big Bird. All I’ve been tasked to do is bring stuff to drink and stay out of the kitchen. I took care of that over the weekend. Sis says there‘ll be fifteen of us, so I picked up a case of Heinekens, two boxes of red and white, and jumbos of Coke, Sprite and seltzer, oh yeah, and a bottle of peppermint schnapps for grandma in memory of grandpa.

    Wifey and I had a bit of a tiff over whether alcohol should be served at all. She picked up her concerns from radio, TV, and the papers all saying that booze could lead to fistfights when talk turns to politics. I told her it would just shave the edges off everyone, so not to worry. And besides, Sis sent out an email to us all saying politics was off limits this year. I guess she was remembering last year at our house when Cousin Nate and Uncle Tommy both got two sheets to the wind and went at it, or when after his fourth or fifth brewski our nephew Troy decided to snap the tablecloth off before all the dishes were cleared from the table. I had to point out that he did pretty good at it and just the gravy boat and a few wineglasses crashed. I lit into our son for egging him on and made them both clean up and pay for new glassware. I’m sure that won’t happen again.

    It’s true, the airwaves and internets are full of warnings about how politics and stuffing don’t mix. Some chalk it up to “deep divisions in the country” exposed by the election. My take is it comes from deep division between family members who are only in the same room because they have to be, like Tommy and Nate. Then there’s Edna, Nate’s wife, who’s a socialist. She likes to double-team with cousin Chuck, a libertarian, to take on everybody. Except that Chuck wants to drain the swamp and Edna wants to fill it up with milk and honey, and before long they’re at each others throats too. Heck, it don’t take politics to start our family screaming at each other. Baseball, young people’s morals, and veganism get the job done almost as well.

    Sis put out a list of topics in her email blast that would be okay to discuss. Things like holiday decorating ideas (like deck the house with spray-on flocking), what to do Black Friday (stay home I say), sports (talk about partisanship though), recipes, dieting (we’ll need that), and travel adventures (even though most of us have never gotten any farther from home than Orlando). Oh, and besides politics her to-don’t list also included religion, I guess bearing in mind that Tommy’s daughter Betsy converted to Islam in college, even though she won’t be there. Also health (dunno why, maybe because Obamacare or abortion might come up), and of course climate change (cousin Buddy sells drilling equipment). Immigration is also out, which she said means we shouldn’t bring up conflict in the Middle East, natural disasters, or Mexico. I guess the rule of thumb is if it involves war, famine, floods, epidemics, or other major misfortunes forget about it.

    So I guess we’ll stick to family stories. Except that we’ve heard them all before, like when Edna’s cat got too close to the fireplace he singed his whiskers, or how Tommy bowled his best game when an earth tremor knocked over all his pins for him. We’ll likely hear about the time I got stuck up in a tree trying to rescue the cat and the neighbors called the fire department. Speaking of the fire department, if that comes up you bet I’ll tell the one about the duck that caught on fire when my wife roasted it a bit too enthusiastically. Or remember last Thanksgiving when uncle Albert snoozed on the couch and young Tom put his trailing hand in a bowl of water to see if he would wet his pants (he didn’t, but he did wake up and spilled the water all over the rug).

    After we get bored with family highlights, somebody will suggest we play a game. So after supper we’ll bicker about whether it should be Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble or foosball until we go our separate ways: the guys to the TV room, the women to the kitchen and dining room and the young ‘uns to the basement where the foosball table is. Dispersing also seems to cool tempers, at least until the football games come on and the fight is on for the clicker. During commercials there will be deep discussions of Black Friday and I’ll be asked to look on the Internet to see which stores have the best deals and when they will open, as if I can remember all that stuff. I won’t be participating in any of those skirmishes. My plan is to get the heck home in one piece and sleep until noon.

    Anyway, here’s hoping your family has as much fun as mine. So long until next year, y’all!

    @image: Pilgrim pooches from Lord-knows-where

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