2017-11-23 / Views

Mashed potatoes and turkey day traditions

A column by Jay Bushen

It’s turkey day here in the Land of Delight and, as always, there’s lots to be thankful for and no shortage of things to look forward to.

Yours truly, for one, is looking forward to a heaping helping of mashed potatoes and Detroit Lions football.

Whoever said “man cannot live on gas-station pizza alone” must have been onto something, because I’ve had a hankering for a home-cooked holiday smörgåsbord for a hot minute. I already know the Thanksgiving aroma will bring back memories of mashed potatoes past, of which there are plenty.

One memory took place at Grandma B’s house when I was about 10. “Jay Prime” — an adolescent alter ego remembered posthumously by friends for his bowling-ball stature — broke the post-grace silence with an immediate request to “pass the potatoes.” My unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the dish-passing rotation will no doubt be referenced this afternoon.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to “go ham” on turkey, get down on some dinner rolls, get funky with green-bean casserole and save space for sweet corn. Minus the yams and that circular dish containing what appears to be Jello, I appreciate just about all Thanksgiving offerings.

Yet, for years, none of the above have made the plate.

That’s because my turkey-day mentality starts with a dedicated effort to indulge in the good stuff. Sure, shave some turkey onto my plate for aesthetics, but don’t force your fruit salad on me, Aunt Marie. Jay Prime is long gone — and this off-brand belt will only stretch so far. Crème de la crème only.

For me that’s three hearty scoops of savory mashed potatoes, a spoonful of stuffing, a biscuit if you’ve got it, corn, a touch of turkey and enough gravy to sink the Mayflower. Ladle by ladle, I will eclipse my monthly sodium intake.

Historically speaking, the Lions are down two touchdowns at this point, so I proceed with caution and take a deep breath. How will I feel tonight after my food coma? Do I really need seconds?

The latter, of course, is a rhetorical question — the answer is always yes — but the second half of the feast is where legends are made.

At this point, you know which aunt brought her A-game and which dish has received the most unforced compliments, so it’s time to seek and destroy. Yes, I’m still bulldogging my way to the mashed potatoes, but this is the time to roll the dice and gamble on gam-gam’s green-bean casserole; it may be my last chance.

From there, I usually draw the line.

I refuse to immediately indulge in thirds or dessert but rather ask myself one simple question: How bad are the Lions losing? Is the ghost of Brett Favre ruining my football appetite? Do we have a Matt Flynn situation on our hands? Will I need to stay awake?

This year, the answer is yes — even when Minnesota is up one score through three quarters. I’ll trade pumpkin pie for a chance to belt out the Lions touchdown song, “Gridiron Heroes,” after watching Matt Stafford register a fourth-quarter comeback. (Frankly, I’m thankful the NFL has kept the Thanksgiving Day matinée in Detroit. I have no idea why it remains there, but I love it. And ... “until the Blue and Silver wave, I’ll stand and cheer the brave.”)

Feel free to employ this approach today and let me know how you feel afterward. If there’s room for cherry pie by dusk, you’ve done it right.

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