Jewish World Review Nov. 27, 2002 / 22 Kislev, 5763

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez
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Consumer Reports

A nation of worriers and complainers | When did we become such a nation of worriers and complainers?

Thanksgiving -- that one day a year when we're supposed to count our blessings -- now seems to evoke as much angst as it does pleasure.

Newspapers are filled with tips to avoid holiday quarrels among family members or rush annoying relatives out the door before the gravy has dried on the plate. It seems every local TV station is carrying warnings about the fat content in the traditional meal, conjuring up images of instantly expanding waistlines and exploding arteries to scare off even the hardiest of eaters. Then, if we manage to make it through the meal without a family feud or heart attack spoiling the holiday spirit, we're told we have to worry about heading out on the highways or, worse, going through airport security before we reach home.

It's all a bunch of hooey, and I'm having none of it. I intend to thoroughly enjoy my Thanksgiving, no matter how hard anyone tries to ruin it. My holiday started on Sunday evening when I picked up my 81-year-old mother at the airport. Despite the travel horror stories, she arrived safely, comfortably and on time. Since then, I've been shopping and cooking up a storm -- without a second thought about whether what I've been buying is good for me or my guests or that it will add a few pounds.

You can't convince me that processed soybeans taste as good as old Tom Turkey or that yams were meant to be eaten without layers of butter and marshmallows. As for stuffing, I like mine with sausage and a few ladles of extra turkey drippings poured over before it's served. I almost never dish up dessert, but there will be pumpkin and apple pies with plenty of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on Thanksgiving. Sure, if we ate that way every day, we'd be in trouble. But no one is going to convince me that we can't indulge once or twice a year and be none the worse for it.

As for the stress of relatives -- no doubt extra personalities mean more compromises. We'll have to keep the house a bit warmer to accommodate Mother's aching joints, and everyone will have to speak a little louder to be understood, but all of us are thankful that she's around to share the holiday. I can't understand people who complain endlessly about their parents or in-laws. My only complaint is that my father and father-in-law aren't still alive to enjoy these family gatherings. As for the kids, now two of them have kids of their own -- with a set of triplets on the way -- but all three sons still love my cooking and make the long hours over a hot stove worth every minute.

Oh, I'll probably be a little annoyed when the guys all head for the big-screen TV at 4 o'clock sharp to watch the Redskins kickoff and the grandkids start fighting over whether to watch "SpongeBob" or "A Bug's Life" on the VCR. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanksgiving is the quintessential family holiday. It's a time to thank Heaven for the gift of life and for being so fortunate as to live in the greatest country in the world. It's a time to thank family members for giving us the love and care that made us who we are today. It's a time to forget our petty squabbles and jealousies, and remember that each of us has foibles, so we ought to be a little more tolerant of the next person's idiosyncrasies. There'll be plenty of time later to settle old scores, just as there will be to exercise off those few new pounds. Thanksgiving is a time to be happy, indulge a little, and relax with family and friends, not to worry or complain.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate