The holiday season officially kicks off next Thursday at that very moment when the last piece of pumpkin pie is consumed, and much of America sets up camp in mall parking lots across the nation to await the midnight advent of Black Friday.
It’s curious that this most onerous of holidays follows on the heels of a day when we’ve all had the opportunity to sit around being thankful for what we have—just before going out to get more.
This year’s holiday season will be unlike any we’ve ever experienced, except for that handful of centenarians who survived the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 and who, at this point, are lucky to even remember their own names. Between Thanksgiving celebrations and Black Friday purges of the checkbook, this is starting to look like the two-day Super Spreader nonpareil.
The wisest among us will have scaled back gatherings, intimate enough to be catered by Swanson’s pot pies and “Hungry Man” frozen dinners. Why spend a day in the kitchen, wrestling with a 24-pound bird that a family of four can live on for two-and-a-half weeks? And sides? Who needs them when the frozen meals have them included?
Imagine Thanksgiving with no dishes to do, no pots or pans to scrub, no table linens to wash and iron.
While we’re at it, let’s let Sara Lee provide dessert.
This could usher in a whole new regimen for holiday entertaining. No fuss, no muss. No inconsiderate relatives sneezing the virus, and no Uncle Earl to get stinking drunk and prattle on about the glories of the Trump era. Traditions all began at some time, why not start one this week?
I’ve never understood the allure of Black Friday. I’m not much of a shopper and I don’t much care for crowds unless it’s at a ballpark. But the idea of getting into a game of tug-of-war over an air fryer has about as much appeal as bobbing for French fries.
And the idea of joining the masses in any activity this year seems downright foolish.
Because I’m a progressive liberal I have no choice but to believe that COVID-19 is not a hoax and that wearing masks is precautionary and kind. It is the cross we commie leftists must bear.
Shopping close to home at the shops and stores that support our own communities seems both wise and prudent, especially this year. Pretty much everybody has felt at least some of the effects of the pandemic. We’ve suffered through an economic downturn and record unemployment, we’ve learned of the tragic passing of friends and family, we’ve felt intimately the loneliness of isolation, we’ve learned to live with self-quarantine, we’ve seen Main Street businesses fail, we’ve watched helplessly as the current administration bungled its handling of a deadly health crisis.
And now, as if all of that wasn’t enough, we’re faced with the arduous task of replacing Alex Trebec as host of Jeopardy.
Actually, we’re not tasked with that at all. Some panel of pencil pushers at Sony Pictures Television will select the venerable Trebec’s replacement. But for those us who enjoy Jeopardy, admired its amiable host, and have grown sick of binge-watching reruns of Mr. Ed and My Mother the Car on Hulu, it is fun to pick random names to provide the answers to the show’s future contestants.
Even the New York Times, the self-proclaimed “newspaper of record” that a couple of weeks ago challenged its readers to determine the differences in refrigerators owned by Trump supporters and Biden supporters, got into the Jeopardy speculation game. Among its suggested replacements were LaVar Burton, Rosie Perez, Joe Rogan and George Stephanopolous, the latter of whom will never make the final cut because Johnny Gilbert would need to take a breath half-way through saying his last name.
Anderson Cooper didn’t make the Times’ cut, but I did see him mentioned somewhere.
Reportedly, Trebec had hoped his replacement would be a woman of color, and for that reason I would suggest Condoleezza Rice.
She’s fairly personable and brighter than your average Republican. She’s an accomplished pianist who has performed with Yo-Yo Ma and, by the bar most recently set by Mike Pompeo, she was a deeply effective Secretary of State. Her given name is also a lot of fun to say out loud.
A second choice would be Gayle King, whose name isn’t at all fun to pronounce. Two syllables. Meh. As host of the CBS morning news show, she is probably still miffed about being passed over as the evening anchor for a younger and whiter Norah O’Donnell.
But there are several other possible contenders for the job, without regard to color or gender.
Larry Flynt comes to mind, although I can’t quite imagine why. But he would lend a certain edginess to the game.
The publisher of Hustler magazine is a self-described “smut peddler” who served time in prison and counts among his past accomplishments amphetamine addiction and bootlegging. Feminist Gloria Steinem called him “the Goebbels of the war against women.” He is a paraplegic multimillionaire, a thorn in the side of the political right, and a champion of free speech.
In 1988, the Supreme Court made “this old pornographer,” as he calls himself, part of history when it handed down a key First Amendment verdict defending his published cartoon portrayal of Jerry Falwell having his first sexual experience with his mother in an out-house.
As long as we’re on the subject of strange sex and the Falwell clan, why not suggest Jerry Falwell, Jr. Everything about this candidate seems anchored in the past—attorney, preacher, academic administrator. A prominent member of the Evangelical Christian community—whatever in hell that means—he served as the president of Liberty University, appointed in 2007 upon his father’s death. On August 7, 2020, Falwell agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from Liberty after he posted a controversial photograph of himself on social media.
He resigned on August 25, 2020, after allegations were published that Falwell and his wife had engaged in a years-long sexual relationship with a pool boy they had met in 2012. Despite the monetary settlement, Junior is suing for another $10 million. Obviously, he needs work, and he seems not to mind being off on the side watching the action.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a hero of the demographic profile of Jeopardy viewers, would be a respectful host of the program. He’s bright, articulate, and is accustomed to dealing with right-or-wrong responses. In fact, he’s so intelligent and accomplished that he’s likely to be the next government official whose head will be on Trump’s chopping block.
And speaking of Trump… In theory, he’ll be out of job come January 20 and will be looking for ways to raise the estimated $1 billion he owes to creditors and the IRS. He also loves the spotlight that television shines on its stars.
But there are a couple of snags. His base audience is more likely to watch Let’s Make a Deal. And it’s not clear if The Donald can understand either the answers or the questions given on Jeopardy, let alone read the little index cards given to the host with both.
Have a happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving so we can do this next year in closer contact with those we love.
Photo montage by Courtney A. Liska
This is a self-distancing dish for a dressing made outside the bird and served in cupcake form.
Sauté a handful of onions and celery in butter until soft, but not browned. Add some chicken stock and season with salt and pepper, plus some sage or thyme. Stir in a package of bread stuffing. Toss well. Once mixed, add an egg or two as a binding agent, and stir until well mixed. Form the mixture into balls and place in a greased cupcake tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400°.