Thanksgiving Day for me growing up in Michigan was all about tradition: lots of great food and the Detroit Lions on TV. Problem is, both traditions have a history of giving you indigestion or inducing a nap. That is until this year. The Lions Thanksgiving Day game against the Green Bay Packers could actually be significant compared to past years. This will cause concern in homes across Michigan and Wisconsin. When do you serve the bird and not miss any action on the field? Thankfully, my brother Dan and I have been coordinating the eating-of-dinner-and-watching-the-game logistics of Thanksgiving Day as long as I can remember. We are a family of football fans, including the Lions, MSU and whoever is playing that other school. We time the start of dinner at the beginning of halftime, nothing exciting happens at halftime except at the dinner table. Flush with turkey, pre-dinner cocktails and an appropriate white wine, tongues loosen up and I always walk away with a nugget or two. For everything to come together it all starts with a list; my brother Dan loves lists. He has the Xs and Os of Thanksgiving down to the last cranberry. The planning and preparation would make NASA proud. Grocery shop the Saturday before, start the stock pot on Sunday, brine the turkey on Monday, back to the store for what you forgot on Tuesday and Wednesday food prep begins in earnest. Bread is cut up for the stuffing and bread pudding, potatoes are peeled and another tradition of donning my ski goggles to cut up the onions takes place. Yes, I look odd with my goggles on, but I have found nothing better to keep the tears away while cutting up those pesky onions. Then D-Day, or T-Day as it were, arrives. Stuffing is made, turkey (or turkeys) go in the oven and Dan’s list gets a little smaller. It’s the calm before the storm — guests arrive and we get to watch the first quarter uninterrupted. Second quarter starts and it’s all hands on deck. Potatoes get mashed, Brussels sprouts sautéed and Dan creates the best gravy imaginable, starting with a four-day stock pot of simmering assorted turkey parts and vegetables. We eat, drink, laugh and then settle down for the rest of the game. A Euchre tournament will be started by the ladies and then it’s time for the desserts. I look at Dan’s list and everything is checked off, at least for Thanksgiving. Christmas can’t be too far behind.
Pete Ruffing is the Sales Director at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. He and his wife of 14 years Brenda live in Okemos.