In six short days, people from across our great nation will gather to give thanks for our many blessings. It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving and the holiday season are upon us.

It seems like just days ago that my wife and I stood above the Central Business District Loop in North Wilkesboro and watched the Fourth of July fireworks.

For good reason, images and traditions associated with Thanksgiving are generally focused on food and the holiday feast. After all, the holiday originated in a celebration of the harvest and survival in the New World.

According to what I’ve read, the top Thanksgiving tradition is—to no surprise-—turkey and all the trimmings. The way the turkey is prepared can vary by region and, without a doubt, the trimmings definitely vary. Really, that even varies from house to house.

The debate these days is whether or not to brine a turkey and whether to get a fresh or frozen bird.

Here in the South, when it comes to side dishes, the tendency is toward a traditionally roasted bird, with cream gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed or scalloped potatoes, macaroni and cheese casserole, green beans of some variety and pumpkin or sweet potato pie.

Some 95 percent of Americans eat turkey at Thanksgiving, a tradition predating the establishment of our nation by well more than a century. My father much preferred ham over turkey or chicken, but that definitely put him in the minority.

A less traditional approach to the sacrificial bird, one perhaps more popular down here in the South, is to deep-fry the turkey. I think most people use peanut oil in the deep fryer, but if you’re a real Southerner you’ll use Crisco. No one in their right mind will say this is good for your heart.

In the South, we deep-fry everything—various and sundry animal parts, pickles and even Oreos and candy bars. I think if you deep-fried a tennis shoe, even that would be tasty, though probably a little on the tough side.

From the standpoint of avoiding food poisoning, deep-frying could arguably be the safest way to cook a turkey. No bacteria could survive a long dip in boiling hot oil.

Many people in Wilkes County will also enjoy the holiday tradition of going deer hunting on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps bagging a trophy for the wall or venison for the freezer. My good friend Randy Gambill, also a talented acoustic musician, is one of those. Many children have good memories of being taken hunting on this day by their fathers.

I would urge everyone to be careful, being aware that serious injuries and deaths occur every year across the nation from falling out of tree stands and from accidental shootings. Be absolutely certain of what and where you are shooting, remembering that high-powered rifle bullets can travel a very long distance.

Anyway, here’s an early Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the meal and get ready for the Black Friday holiday shopping dash, which actually begins on the evening of Thanksgiving for many.

My wife, Shari, will be one of those out competing for bargains. She will have shopping list in hand and a battle plan drawn up in terms of which stores to visit and when. I, on the other hand, will be home, likely sitting in front of the television and feeling overly full.

Thus begins the Christmas season.

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