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Greetings & Blessings to all,
Welcome to our Thanksgiving edition sent in recognition of the thousands of Americans who make up a massive part of our newsletter family. If this is your first issue, go raibh maith agat for joining us and we hope you will enjoy our musings and meanderings. If so, please feel free to share all or part of them with your family and friends.
The last time we wrote, the frost was on the pumpkin. This time around, snow is on the ground. Just a light dusting, mind you, but definitely a harbinger of things to come. It's been a while since we had measurable snow in our Ohio Valley before Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed it will hold off until after the holiday weekend so families can make it safely to and from their Turkey and all the trimmings.
Meanwhile, it's been just a couple of weeks or so since we were talking about Hallowe'en and the Celtic New Year. But so much has happened, it seems like a lot longer.
This was our first Trick or treat night at Tadpole Cottage and we gave out over 100 chocolate bars. Among the delightfully costumed little gremlins was a three year old dressed like an angel, with real feathers for wings. She became a permanent fixture in our memories of this last day in October 2008 when we went for our daily walk the next morning. There, strewn along our path were tiny feathers, or even just wisps of that little angel's wings. Somehow, it seemed perfectly normal and magical all at the same time.
The next night we went to a great costume party dressed as Florida voters complete with bingo cards as election ballots and a lot of hanging chads. (No offense intended toward our readers in the Sunshine state!) As might be expected there were Joe the Plumbers, Joe Six-packs, Uncle Sam giving out huge amounts of Monopoly money and a couple who came dressed as coins - their interpretation of "Change," All in all, it was good fun and no one got into any political debates. Possibly, after two years of campaigning, the guests just wanted it to be all over and done with.
And so it is.
After eight years of continuing disappointment in the current administration (to put it mildly), we are eagerly anticipating the shift in leadership. We know not everyone is happy with the election results , but in our humble opinion, it has to be better than what we had. Enough about that. It is what it is and we just hope and pray it will be a good thing for America and the world. As Bertie Ahern was quoted as saying, when America sneezes, Ireland catches the flu!
Dear readers in the USA, are you ready for what Russ playfully calls the national day of gluttony followed by the frenzied frantic Friday? Given how many of us are feeling extremely pinched by what appears to be a global recession, we doubt if the retailers are going to see the usual mobs of shoppers lining up at 6 am. But you never know. Even in the bleakest of times, there are always those who are fortunate enough to be able to keep on spending, God bless 'em.
Which brings us to the word that sums up Thanksgiving - Gratitude. We received a very nice write-up on it from a close friend. We've adapted it quite a bit, but essentially it says that gratitude comes easily when our lives are in order - when the bills are paid, the children are behaving, and our health is good. But it is during times of hardship that we can also be grateful; when we can give thanks for the blessings we have and even the challenges we may have been given.
Which is why we so admire and respect those who seem to always rise above their difficulties and keep on going. After we say Grace at our Thanksgiving table this year, we will raise our glasses in this blending of two great Irish toasts:
"May our right hands always be stretched out in friendship but never in want and may all here still be here this time next year."
Enough of the blather...on with the update:
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IN THIS ISSUE:
From the mailbag
Quips, Quotes, Proverbs & Toasts
A Bit of the Wit
Joke of The Week
Did You Know
Know Your Writers
The week That Is
Leave 'em Laughing
What follows are news clips from around the counties and elsewhere. Links for more news stories can be found on our web site where we post the latest headlines from Ireland every morning and we keep two week's of previous news: http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/01News/Home.html
And more county news can be found here:
Cultural heritage worth 2bn annually to tourism
That's according to Bord Fáilte. The organisation says Irish music, literature, museums, sports and buildings are major reasons for tourists visiting the country.
FROM AROUND THE COUNTIES:
Antrim: Ballyeaston fights to keep its phone box
The village still has one of the old red telephone boxes once familiar in towns and villages all over the North but now less used since the introduction of mobile phones. British Telecom now has plans to remove all the old-style phone boxes but the Ballyeaston one will not be given up without a fight. We'll keep you posted if we can.
Carlow: Bagenalstown estate celebrates 75 years
Residents past and present of St Brigid's Crescent in Bagenalstown gathered recently to celebrate the estate's seventy-fifth anniversary. The celebrations began with a commemorative Mass, after which guests played some of their childhood games including hopscotch and rounders. The evening concluded with music and dancing in McGrath Hall.
Cavan: Launch of new book on the county
"County Cavan - Land of Water, Earth and Air" was recently launched at the Johnston Central Library in Cavan town. It is the work of Cavan native Ciaran Parker with illustrations by Jim McPartlin, originally from Dublin. Among the topics covered in the book are Lakes Ramor, Sheelin and Sillane, the drumlins of north and east Cavan, the flax plant, the border and the bogland, and mountains of the west.
Cork: Preserving old shops on film
With the assistance of a grant from the Heritage Council Clare Keogh is capturing on film some of the old shops in Cork,. Among those caught on her camera are the saddle and harness shop of John Manley in Blackpool, set up by John's grandfather, and Twomey's Grocery Shop on Barrack Street, which was established sixty-five years ago by the parents of its present proprietor, Breda Twomey. Also to be featured in the book arising from the project is octogenarian Mrs O'Leary who presides over Saint Philomena's Stores in Ballyphehane.
Derry: New bridge to unite the city
A new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists across the River Foyle is to be built in order to create a shared city centre. The £13m structure will link Guildhall to the old Ebrington barracks site on the Waterside and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2010. It will be the third bridge across the River Foyle in the city.
Donegal: Killybegs man introduces online "Irish wake"
Hugh O'Donnell from Killybegs, along with Joe McGuiggan from Derry, has set up an innovative website that allows people to record memories of their relatives who have died. The site allows memories, photographs and music to be placed on the web for all to see, and also allows others to contribute their own memory of the deceased. For details, please click
Dublin: Colourful convention in Ballsbridge
Recently, more than two thousand people gathered at the Ballsbridge Inn for the sixth International Dublin Tattoo Convention. Among the delegates, who came from Britain, Continental Europe, the US and Russia, was the holder of the Guinness Book of Records record for being the most-tattooed man, Lucky Diamond Rich from New Zealand.
Fermanagh: Top rating for Enniskillen hotel
The Lough Erne Golf Resort has become the first hotel in the North to be awarded five-star rating by the Automobile Association. The staff have been training to reach AA five-star standards since they opened on the six-hundred acre site between Lower Lough Erne and Castle Hume Lough.
Galway: US Senators meet in Spiddal
Recently, two US senators met in Spiddal, where one of them was on holiday. Democratic senator Barry Hobbins is holidaying in the area and his meeting was with a newly elected senator whose roots are in Connemara. Margaret Craven, formerly Connolly, who is a native Irish speaker, is the newly-elected Democratic senator for Maine. Originally from the village of Letterard, she emigrated to Boston in the 1960s and she is believed to be the only Irish-born state senator in America.
Kildare: Days of wandering sheep are numbered
At long last the county council is to take action to prevent sheep from wandering into housing estates in Kildare town from the Curragh plains. For years residents have been plagued with wandering sheep which have caused damage to a number of gardens over the years. Now it appears that work will begin on installing a sheep grid on Melitta Road.
Kilkenny: Conker fun in Freshford
The children of St Lachtain's National School and ThreeCastles spent two weeks collecting some thirty thousand chestnuts from which four thousand conkers were made for the annual Irish Conkers Championships. Champion was Tom Broderick of Urlingford who will go on to represent Ireland at the World Conker Championships in Northampton next year.
Longford: Protest over barracks closure
The people of Longford have staged a protest over the proposed closure of the barracks, culminating in a march to Dáil Éireann. The military has had a presence in Longford town for the past two hundred years.
Louth: Cross-border commemoration in Drogheda
As has been the tradition for the past nine years, ex-service groups from both sides of the border gathered in Drogheda or a service to commemorate those Irishmen who died in the First World War. Revived by former mayor of Drogheda Sean Collins, the event is the only all-Ireland remembrance and wreaths were laid by the Irish Ex-Service Men's Association and members of Whiteabbey Royal British Legion.
Mayo: Charlestown remembers its champion
Recently, the town of Charlestown celebrated one of its champions with the inaugural John Healy Memorial Weekend. The journalist is remembered for his book "No One Shouted Stop (Death of an Irish Town) which caused such division initially that the author's brother Gerard was unable to visit the local pub for six months; he still lives in the family home in the town. The Memorial lecture was given by journalist John Waters, while other speakers included archaeologist Seamus Caulfield, historian Sinead McCoole and Bernard O'Hara, who wrote a book on Michael Davitt.
Meath: Snail mail in Rathfeigh
Residents of the village are becoming reluctant to post their letters into the local postbox, since there is a good chance that they will be rendered undeliverable. Apparently the postbox is a favourite haunt of snails, though it has not been ascertained whether it is a chemical in the snail's trail that renders the address illegible, or that the snails just like to eat the paper. Since the post office in the village closed three years ago people have no alternative but to use the postbox, although it has led to letters being returned to them with a note saying the delivery name and address couldn't be read.
Monaghan: Second fundraiser for Rossmore Mausoleum
The restoration committee are to hold another public appeal in order to match funding for the project from local and government sources. Phase one is now being carried out under a weatherproof framework, with the focus on preserving the wood timbers of the building. The mausoleum was built for the fourth Baron Rossmore, who died after a hunting accident in 1874 at the age of twenty-three.
Offaly: Moneygall bar has a party
Ollie Hayes' bar was the centre of celebrations even before it was confirmed that Barack Obama who has roots in the village had been elected president of the United States. Performing at the bar were Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys with their song "There's No One as Irish as Barack Obama". Already there are billboards at the entrances to the village reading "Welcome to Obama country", and Moneygall is hoping that the new president will keep his promise to visit the village at some time.
Roscommon: Not quite a century, but still cause for celebration
The Coffey family of Coffey's Pub have notched up ninety years of serving the people of Lecarrow and they held a celebration recently to mark the occasion. Now into its third generation, the pub was established by Patrick Coffey in 1918, and taken over by his son John Joe eleven years later. John Joe ran it for an astonishing fifty years, when it was taken over by his son John, who has worked on the premises since 1966.
Sligo: Team in dog rescue on Benwhisken
Members of the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team were on a scheduled training evening when they received a call from the Gardái about a sheepdog that had become stuck in a steep gully on the south western slopes of Benwhisken Mountain. Team leader Trevor Lindsay sent a team of six volunteers to the site where one member abseiled down into a gully in darkness and heavy rain, without finding the dog. He tried again in the next gully, again without finding the missing dog, and was ascending again when on a rocky bluff between the two gullies he spotted the dog's eyes shining in the darkness, and it was reunited with its farmer owner.
Tipperary: Triple medal winner to be honoured after 50 years
Michael Francis O'Donnell, whose father came from Ballyveelish, Clonmel and subsequently ran a grocer's shop in Irishtown, was awarded the medals for bravery during the First World War. Almost fifty years ago he was buried in an unmarked grave in Glasnevin but a new headstone over his grave is to be dedicated this month. Funds for the headstone were provided by the Passionist Community in Mount Argus, to whom Michael O'Donnell left a significant sum of money.
Tyrone: Plaque unveiled on musician's anniversary
On the first anniversary of the death of busker Arthur McGonigle a plaque was unveiled at his favourite busking spot in Omagh. His brothers Gerry and Tony and sisters Marie and Gabrielle travelled from England for the event, which arose from a busk-a-thon and memorial concert organised by a group of local teenagers, including James Keaveney, Will Convey and Oliver Curran, soon after Arty's death last year; the events raised more than £2,000. A memorial concert was held to commemorate Arty's first anniversary at the CKS Community Centre in O'Kane Park, involving among others local musicians Eric Simmonds and John McGinty.
Wexford: Timely sale of Hook Peninsula house
The approach of Hallowe'en was the perfect time for the sale of a house on the Hook Peninsula which is associated with a particularly dark legend. The present Loftus House was built by the Marquis of Ely in 1870 on the ruins of an earlier building, and it was the earlier house that was in the 18th century the scene of a card game with a stranger who vanished through the ceiling in a puff of smoke after one of the players had noticed he had a cloven hoof. The house was subsequently exorcised by Fr. Thomas Broaders. The unique qualities of the house were further emphasised when not one single bid was received by auctioneer John Radford, but the house was eventually sold in a subsequent mini-auction.
FROM AROUND THE WORLD:
New Zealand: The luck of the Irish hits Auckland
A trade mission is hoping the luck of the Irish will lure Kiwi visitors to the Emerald Isle. Tourism Ireland is in Auckland promoting its new campaign "Go where Ireland takes you." For more details. please click
FROM THE MAILBAG
John O'Donnell writes: I just recently signed on and just wanted to say thanks for your work. I notice you make some reference to Hannah Hats sold by your sponsor. I happened to meet John Hannah, the company's owner, in a pub in Donegal town a few years ago. He is a very fine gentleman indeed. As a Democrat, let me just say I regret someone discovered Sarah Palen's Irish roots. Thanks again.
ED. NOTE: Not surprisingly, ALL of the candidates have Irish ancestors!
Christine Robinson writes: My mother who is now 88 (Annie Kilcooley) tells me that when the children of Ballyturin, Galway used to chant these lines on the way home from school.
"If Tom Moore had to walk without shoes on his feet and sleep on bed without any sheet
and go for 3 weeks without food to eat he'd care a lot less about the valley so sweet"
ED. NOTE: Christine didn't ask us for more lines to this verse. We aren't familiar with it and wondered if there might be more, or if anyone else knows of it.
A Thanksgiving greeting for our readers in the USA
Here's a comprehensive collection of links that include turkey traditions, turkey fun, turkey trivia and more. With thanks to our dear friend AG who sent us a great Turkey quiz. We managed to get 14 out of 20. See how well you do.
Celtic Holiday Music
Several readers have sent us the link to AccuRadio which features an all Celtic channel for holiday music. After you click on the main URL. scroll down the menu to see what's on offer. And go raibh maith agat to all of you who sent in this link!
John McCormick sings Bless this House
This hymn is often sung in many churches at Thanksgiving and at Christmas time. However, if you grew up in post-war England as Bridget did, more than likely, it was the Gracie Fields version that you heard. Listening to it brought back many fond memories.
John McCormick video:
Gracie Fields video:
Catch the falling apples
If bridget had to depend on using the apples she caught for making her apple pie, we'd have to go without. See how well you do with this fast moving game. Please click
The Irish Page
This time around, Jack & Vivian have chosen the story of the Conversion of St. Paul as their Irish/English reading. The background music is especially appropriate - Brú ar an nasc thios:
Do you know of a woman who can't afford a mammogram? Here's how you can help. Go to the Breast Cancer site and click on their free mammogram link; if they get enough clicks , they'll be able to donate at least one free mammogram a day to underprivileged women. It takes just a minute and there's no cost involved:
ED. NOTE: Maria Eryaatz advises that free mammograms are also available in all states via the VNA (visiting nurses association).
Click on 'Find A VNA' for the your nearest location.
Free Pet Food!
Last but certainly not least - our ongoing gift to AG in California and all friends to animals, please click this link today and everyday. It only takes a second to feed an animal. Thanks!
Free People Food!
It only takes a second to feed hungry people, too:
SPONSOR: Please help us keep our newsletter coming - visit our friends at the Celtic Attic:
Season's greetings and savings! Now through Christmas, get Free or 1/2 off shipping with each and every order - parcel or first class shipping.
Priority or Express shipping is regular price - so get those orders in now and take advantage of this great offer. Plus you'll receive a Complimentary GIFT and a FREE COPY of the CELTIC ATTIC COOKBOOK PDF with each order! In addition we will be adding a $5.00 off gift card to each other placed. You can use it yourself or in the spirit of the season, pass it onto a friend. Come take a look at our wide range of gifts and especially shop our sales pages where items are up to 80% off!
Order on line or by phone - and tell them Bridget & Russ said hello!
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QUIPS, QUOTES, PROVERBS & TOASTS
A toast to our American readers:
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
and your pies take the prize,
and may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off your thighs!
A BIT OF THE WIT
To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist & the problem is entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one's vinegar.
JOKE OF THE WEEK
A reprise of one we sent last year but it's so good, we thught it well worth repeating. We hope you agree.
A young boy after hearing the story of Thanksgiving and how the Indians and the Pilgrims sat down together,climbed up into his father's lap and said, "Daddy, did you know that if we were Indians, you would be a brave and Mom would be a squawk?"
"That is the best description of your mother I have ever heard," replied his daddy as he ducked.
DID YOU KNOW
1. The turkey was domesticated in Mexico and brought to Europe in the 16th century?
2. Turkeys are believed to have been brought to Britain in 1526 by Yorkshireman William Strickland. He acquired six turkeys from American Indian traders and sold them for tuppence in Bristol?
3. In the UK, 200 years ago, turkeys were walked to market in herds and wore booties to protect their feet?
KNOW YOUR IRISH WRITERS
First off, the answers to our last quiz:
1. Irish Ghosts and Hauntings by Michael Scott
2. Great Tales of irish Horror by William Trevor
3. The Book of Irish Weirdness by Mairtin O'Griofa
A tip of the hat and a pat on the back to the following Irish bibliophiles:
Here are a few pages mainly inspired by the collections of Edward Bunting who had attended the famous Belfast Harp Festival in 1792 and had been engaged to note down the music from the last harpers, before it would vanish with them for ever.
As for my favourite Irish Website link: http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com
Is there any other?
ED. NOTE: Aw shucks, Helen, yer making us blush.
In kind, may we also recommend a visit to Helen's site here:
John Laney (Lynaugh)
No favorite Irish site -I love them all. But there is a favorite spot to visit every time I get to Ireland. It's Achill Island. You can get a sense of it at:
Enjoy your wee visit..
ED. NOTE: The site is being re-designed. Until that's done, you can get an overview of Achill Island here:
Having been born near Stone Henge in Wiltshire, UK, this Irish site is of paticular interest to me:
Want to see your name and favorite web site in our next newsletter? Who wrote:
1. Irish Stories for Christmas
2. An Irish Christmas Feast
3. The Irish Christmas Book
Hint: You'll find these books in the library on our site:
Send your answers to Bridget:
Don't forget to nominate a favorite Irish site and it would be helpful if you put "Know Your Writers" in the subject line of your email. Thanks!
To start off, the answer to our previous brain bruiser:
A popular member of the king's court well known for his quick thinking is charged with treason and sentenced to death. Because the king likes the wily fellow, he allows him to choose his own way to die.
Q. What did he choose?
A. To die of old age.
This one was way too easy! We were swamped with correct answers, but first in was Chris Byrne of St. Louis MO. Well done, Chris!
An honourable mention goes to our dear friend Bill Deegan who made us laugh with the following joke attached to his riddle answer:
A skeleton went into a bar on Halloween & what did he order?
A pint and a mop.
On to our next head banger:
Susan has invited her family to Thanksgiving Dinner. As her plates are not the best, Susan wants to buy new plates. There'll be a grandfather, a grandmother, two fathers, two mothers, four children, three grandchildren, one brother, two sisters, two sons, two daughters, one father-in-law, one mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law. How many plates does Susan need to buy?
Please send your answers to:
It would be helpful if you put riddle answer in the subject kine.
SPONSOR: Please help us keep your newsletter coming - visit our good
friends at Lollysmith:
The Silly Season is upon us! Come take a look at what's in store and start making those lists now - you'll be glad you did. For example, we have Jacob's Chocolates, genuine Blackthorn Walking Sticks, Hanna Hats & Caps, Connemara blankets and much, much more!
THE WEEK THAT WAS
1. Article: Irish Celebrations - Martinmas
2. Article: irish Celebrations - The feastday of St. Martin
3. Article: The irish Soldiers in WWI
4. Article: It's a Long Way to Tipperary
5. Article: Danny Boy
6. Article: Who was behind the doors of Dublin?
ED. NOTE: We continue to leave this article on the home page to draw your attention to a very generous offer by Bob Fearon, the man behind the original poster officially sanctioned by Bord Fáilte - Bob will donate 50% of all profits from the sales of the posters and puzzles to Irish Culture and Customs. We just received a nice commission check from Bob - go raibh maith agat!
7. Irish Kitchen: Guid irish Christmas Cake. This tongue in cheek "recipe " has been making the rounds for many years. Enjoy.
8. Basic Irish: Advent & Christmas
9. Kids' Ireland: The Little Red Bird
10. Music Review: Our resident reviewer William Ramoutar reviews
the haunting voice of Patricia Scanlon on her two latest CDs
11. Trivia Contest. The November contest is posted. All entries must be in by midnight November 30 no matter what time zone you live in. http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/TriviaContest.html
October's winner: Congratulations to Edith Cason USAwho selected the Tin Whistle set generously provided by our sponsor Lollysmith.
12. Circle of Prayer: The first Novena in this cycle began on November 14 and will continue through November 22. These are especially difficult times with many people losing their jobs as a result of the economic meltdown. Whatever your spiritual leanings, please keep all those looking for work in your prayers or meditations. Please also remember the Dowd's missionary friends in India, Isabella*, Mary O's mom, Christy Banik, Joe Colum, Patricia's daughter Heather , the family and friends of the McTiernans, Pauline Dewberry, our daughter Catherine, Cyndi, Mickey, Hartson, Laureena Blankenship, Sierra Mitchell, Michelle Lester, Katie Lacinak and so many others including all military personnel serving their countries all over the world. Dear Heavenly Father, please keep them safe and bring them home soon.
*After almost a year in and out of the hospital, little Isabella went home last Wednesday - hallelujah!
So that's the long and the short of it until we write again. If you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other important event between now and next time we hope it's an occasion filled with joy and happiness.
A safe and happy Thanksgiving Thursday to all of our readers in the USA. and we leave all of you with this lovely old Irish blessing:
May the spirits of peace and tranquility call
To reside in your home, every room, every wall.
May four Angels protect eaves North South East and West.
May God's spirit of love reassure you are blessed.
May each guest you receive feel welcome and warm
And may God protect them from all harm.
...And as they say in Ireland, mind yourself.
Slan agus beannacht!
Bridget & Russ
Get down on your knees and thank God you're still on your feet!
Celtic Blessing - sung by the St. Coca's Choir, from Kilcock, Co. Kildare
ANNOUNCEMENTS & EVENTS
Please check with the Wild Geese - they have a huge listing of events and we don't want to duplicate their efforts:
If we receive a unique event not mentioned there, we will be happy to list it here.
Holywood, Florida - Irish American Ceili Club
We meet monthly (September - May) at the American Legion Hall - Post 92, Hollywood, to enjoy the food, music, singing & dancing of Ireland. Every month, we offer good food & great Irish music & fun! To learn more, please visit us at
Los Alamitos, California -1st Tuesday of every month
Friends of Ireland of Southern California Monthly Breakfast. Events are held on the 1st Tuesday of the month. Please call in RSVP to one of the contacts below, one day in advance so we can accommodate you.
Barbara Walsh (714) 739-4195 Kathy Wisdom (714) 572-8277
Tom Kennedy (562) 425-2636 Jim O'Dea (626) 965-0307
Portland, oregon - 1st Friday of the month
Ceili of the Valley Society - First Friday of the month Céilís and on-going Tuesday night Céilí and Sean Nós dance classes. Our season runs from October through June and next season we may be moving the dances to Saturday rather than Friday nights. For more details, please click
Eastern Caribbean Irish Genealogy Seminar Cruise - January 09
The Irish Ancestral Research Association is organizing an Irish genealogy cruise in January 2009 on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Speakers include our friends Eileen & Sean O'Duill from Dublin. For complete details, please click
LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING
That crusty old Crabby Road curmudgeon is at it again: herewith, Maxine's Thanksgiving maxims:
This year, we're having a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner. I stuffed the turkey with Prozac.
If my relatives wanted me to be truly thankful, they'd do all the cooking.
My secret to great stuffing is to let someone else make it.
For the holidays, I bring out all the traditional family recipes. That really keeps the guest list down.
As the Thanksgiving season approaches, remember all it takes is one undercooked turkey and you'll be the "dinner rolls and soda" person for life.
As far as I'm concerned, any day the relatives visit is Turkey Day.
Last but not least:
When making Thanksgiving dinner, do your giblets end up in the gravy? Or do you wear a bra when you cook?