[228] Holiday Dread

I love when the fall season arrives, as it means the weather will soon cool off to more tolerable levels, much to the chagrin of those who adore the heat. Hot weather is like a well-done steak to me: absolutely disgusting and intolerable, but someone absolutely loves it. To each their own, I guess.

Although I always look forward to the colder weather, there are things I am dreading about the next several weeks. One of those things is Thanksgiving. I enjoy having Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s at work that I tend to dislike. Thanksgiving is the absolute busiest day at work. We generally do double or triple, sometimes even four times, a normally busy Sunday. One of our two flat-top grills becomes dedicated to serving turkey dinners that day. Everyone is required to work that day, and overtime is expected. Historically over the last few years, one other cook and I work a couple of shifts overnight in order to prepare, usually slicing and portioning turkey and portioning sweet potato casserole, in addition to baking in the neighborhood of 300 pies (between pecan, chocolate pecan and apple pecan streusel). During that Thanksgiving week last year, I worked something like 65 hours, and my co-worker ended up with some 80 hours that week.

As far as retail stores go, many have had Halloween costumes and candy available for a couple of weeks now. The other day, I saw that Walmart is already beginning to turn their garden center into their “Christmas central”. Where I work at Cracker Barrel, they actually beat Walmart to the punch on Christmas, and already have a large section of their retail shop decked out in Christmas merchandise. I’ve called it “holiday creep”, where not every holiday gets its due time in the retail spotlight. Halloween stuff comes out right about Labor Day, and Christmas comes out before the end of September. Thanksgiving décor gets lost in the shuffle somewhere. There should be a new phrase people say at this time of year: “Happy Hallowthanksmas!”

Another aspect of the end of the year that really bugs the shit out of me is Christmas music. It’s not that I hate it, it’s because it becomes ubiquitous and incessant. Some radio stations change their formats in October to an all-Christmas music station. Retailers flood their PA systems with holiday music. It’s the over-saturation of music, expected constant holiday cheer and the over-commercialization of Christmas that makes it a not-so-jolly time of the year. At least Black Friday will actually happen on Friday, as even Walmart will be closing on Thanksgiving Day again this year.

Thanksgiving dinner traditionally involves turkey and the assorted accompaniments. On Christmas, however, because I’m totally sick of turkey, the last couple of years I changed it up to serving prime rib at home. It’s a nice change from ham or turkey. This year, however, I’m not sure if having prime rib will be feasible. Have you seen beef prices this year? Holy shit! Supposedly, the beef industry is really hurting, so beef prices have skyrocketed. I’m hard pressed to find any steaks or beef for less than $8 a pound anymore. Ribeye steaks (which come from the prime rib roasts) that used to be less than $10/lb are now more in the $15 – $20 range per pound. Unless there’s a huge sale in December (at most $7/pound) I may have to resort to a ham for Christmas.

“Can it really be my duty to buy and receive masses of junk every winter?”

C. S. Lewis

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