The Return of Mr. Thanksgiving Advice Man

By John Kass

After last year’s miserable lockdown Thanksgiving, many Americans want to give it another try.

Some of you are overwhelmed with questions, like:

What to serve your loveable but leftist in-laws? How many drinks should you serve guests of all political persuasions–even the commies–on an empty stomach, before they begin talking politics and pulling each others’ hair while screaming “Mom! Mom!”?

And, should you throw dear Aunt Ida’s horrid Jell-O mold with the wretched floating chunks in the garbage as soon as she presents it? She’s so excited. She has that trembling smile. She loves offering Jell-O to family. So do you just “drop” it on the floor by “accident,” or put it on the table where it quivers demonically?

Perhaps the most important question of all: Mrs. Grass Onion Soup Dip mix or the other crappy stuff that your cousin brought over that he claims is just as good? It isn’t.

Never fear, Mr. Thanksgiving Advice Man is here.

Your advice man columns are my absolute favorites!! writes  Lynda Vitale Turner.

Thank you friend Lynda.

Am I not a river to my people?

Mr. Thanksgiving Advice Man, I know the turkey should soak in a brine for a few hours and bake for a few hours. How long should I brine myself in Wild Turkey 101. David Addison.

David, try this pro-tip. Brine all your guests in Wild Turkey or some other strong spirit. I’d say five or six shots for everyone for starters, as soon as they enter your doors. Then pour some more. And make sure to maintain your own self-brining routine. After a few hours, when one of you begins shouting “Why have you hated me all these years?” while pulling her in-law’s hair, don’t forget to call 911.

What kind of pizza is appropriate to order if the turkey is not thawed out on time because “someone” forgot? Peter V. Bella

Palermo’s 95th. The special. Extra-large thin and crispy. Sausage, green peppers, mushrooms and onion. And the sweet sauce of the Southwest Side. Just like the pilgrims ordered at the first Thanksgiving.  There is but one pie, and that pie is Palermo’s 95th.

Mr. Turkey Day Advice Man: Is it ok to beat your guests who put up their Christmas tree a month ago? Asking for a friend. Bruce Vee.

Yes Bruce, a short beating is fine. But don’t flay them, “Game of Thrones” style. Just beat them a little for their own good, a few quick smacks on the back of the head with a flick of your hand, or a few cracks with the wooden spoon (before you stir the gravy).  Because you love them.

I like canned jellied cranberries over the sour lumpy fresh cranberries. What say you Mr. Thanksgiving Advice Man? Phyllis O’Neill.

Oh, me too Phyllis! I love jellied cranberries from the can. Just the whoosh of it all emerging from the can, then plopping on the plate, then the jiggle. The ridges from the can are just perfect. It says “Thanksgiving” to me.

Should I wear the girdle with the zipper on the side for Thanksgiving dinner? The one that is the color of roses has gone bad. Mary Lou Patriarca

Mary Lou, too much information on the bad rose-colored girdle. As an old-school political reporter married to the Lovely Sicilian, I know nothing of other women’s unmentionable garments. Just go with sweats, or jeans and open the button when you hit the couch, as you sigh, “Marone! Turn on the game!”

What’s the best way to hide the delicious crispy turkey skin so that I may enjoy it alone after everyone has left? Donalee Westler

Donalee, when slicing the turkey, quietly put the precious skin in a container. By the time they begin eating with all the gravy and sides, they won’t notice.  Later, watching TV with your salty skin snack, have a glass or two of wine, because wine solves many things. Including guilt. Think of me, Donalee. I’ll be doing the same thing.

Do you allow the kids to sit at the big table and put the libs at the kids table? Maureen McGrath Shakeshaft.

I’ve been the lone conservative at many liberal dinners. They usually seat me at the end of the table. Some wanted me to tell jokes, like a medieval jester. At least they didn’t wipe their greasy fingers with my hair. Since we conservatives are all about hospitality and virtue and goodness, you should let them all sit down together to demonstrate moral superiority. But not the socialists. They belong in the basement watching MSNBC. And no dessert for them or the commies.

How long does it take to cook a HUMAN TURKEY? There seems to be a barnyard full of them these days most especially in Chicago. Bob Angone

Ah, the old Donner Party Thanksgiving. But I hear the meat’s just too sweet. Besides, it’s a sin, Bob. You know it is a sin, right?

Any ideas on how I can refrain from eating too much stuffing? I usually stay away from it during the year but can’t seem to control myself on Thanksgiving. It seems that the stuffing mingles just right with the turkey, and I have no control. Melody Ann

I have something that might work, but it’s just way too extreme for a gentlewoman like you, Melody Ann. Years ago, at Fitzgerald’s in Oak Park on St. Patrick’s Day, I smashed my jaw into another guy’s fist and broke it. He survived. But they wired my jaw up for 15 weeks. When Betty saw me—we’d broken up a few months earlier—she took pity. I’d already lost 50 pounds. Eventually, we lived happily ever after. I gained weight. She didn’t. Now I just eat the stuffing and try to keep my mouth shut.

My cousin’s kid blogged about how horrible her Thanksgivings were every damn year I hosted (Damn fine meals, I might add) Do I confront her, or quietly seethe next year too? Paulette Delcourt.

How dare she???!!! As El Cid once said through Charlton Heston, “Can a man live without honor?” Honor demands that you confront and humiliate her. Wait until you’re all seated at the table, and begin with an loud, ostentatiously polite and bitchy voice, “Honey, you blogged about how terrible Thanksgivings were at my house. I offered you hospitality, I cooked for you. We’re family. But you had no right! I still do love you (insert name of cousin’s evil kid) and want you to have this, from me: A Moutza! Feesah Etho! Parta!” And then laugh. But make it a fake laugh.  Then stare at her. Trust me Paulette, it will get the dinner off to a fine start.

Is it appropriate to start a ‘Let’s go Brandon!’ chant during dinner or should you wait for dessert? Jack Giuffre.

From the moment you walk in. You might start it by singing in Pig Latin–“et’slay ogay andonbray!” and keep singing it for the duration of the meal.

Dear Advice Guy. When relatives argue over politics or some other stupid beef they have with each other, what do you recommend to get them to shut up and/or leave? Illinois has so many options on this, ranging from lighting up offerings from state licensed weed dispensaries to serving Malort, to discussing your property tax bill, to name a few. Which works best? Ed Burton.

Ed, Ed, Ed. I’m a free speech absolutist. I recommend do nothing. Just let the beefers keep fighting and drinking. Later, bring out a platter of tastefully arranged Bowie knives and let them enjoy themselves.

Is it OK to have a separate table for any vegans in the family? And, if yes, can that table be in the backyard, or even someone else’s back yard? Bill Lindich.

 A neighbor’s back yard on the next block over will do.

Mr. Thanksgiving Advice Man, time goes on, “traditions” change. It’s not unusual for us to have an early feast, so that others who must may enjoy a second meal with other relatives. This year is a first. After feeding all my in-laws, my wife and I will be alone. Everyone including my two, now adult children, head to other obligations. What light, every easy, yet tasty late evening meal do you recommend? Marty Donohoe.

With two sons, someday Betty and I might be there in the same situation. I feel for you Marty. What will I do? Whiskey or gin. I’ll try keeping her away from the old videos from when the kids were little. And no Joni Mitchell on Pandora. “Circle Game” would be just too damn much.

What do you do with guests who show up with masks on? Peggy Meskin Zabicki.

Sprinkle them with Holy Water, Peggy. And if they start screaming and smoking, call a priest.

Enjoy my friends.

Mr. Thanksgiving Advice Man says: Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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(Copyright 2021 John Kass)