The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Tom Lavis

November 13, 2011

Tom Lavis | Holiday season stuffed with overeating

For me, and I imagine many others, the holiday season begins in less than two weeks.

I’m not talking about the madness of Black Friday or the first day of rifled deer season.

I view the holiday season as a time when turkey stuffing is served multiple times between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Call it stuffing or dressing, it is a food that often is eaten when you’re not hungry.

That’s the only way I can explain why I have the refrigerator door propped open, unwrapping a soccer-ball size of aluminum foil to get another taste of stuffing, only 45 minutes after the Thanksgiving dishes were put away.

Turkey stuffing is one of the most important components of any Thanksgiving feast.

It’s as American as the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys hosting games on the holiday.

It is so successful that the American Federation of Turkey Stuffers convinced the NFL in 2006 to begin offering a third game on Thanksgiving Day, thus providing an added opportunity to eat more stuffing.

I find nothing more inviting than scooping a cornucopia of tasty components ranging from bread to celery from the cavity of a perfectly roasted turkey.

Those who fear food contamination tend to skip the bird’s cavity and bake it in a separate dish.

At our house, we make it a practice not to eat until the bird has reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit or when four bottles of wine have been consumed, whichever comes first.

It is common for stuffing recipes to be handed down from generations of bird stuffers.

My great grandpa, who survived the Great Depression, entertained us with with stories of how nothing was wasted when it came to food.

I have heard and shared stories of how our ancestors survived on such delicacies as coffee soup, roasted potatoes or boiled cabbage.

For a real treat, a pheasant or grouse was sometimes harvested during hunting season.

That’s the only way I can explain why our stuffing contains chopped liver and gizzards.

It wouldn’t be a holiday at our house without the smell of organ meat wafting in the air.

They seem to be common ingredients throughout the Rust Belt.

I’m sure Confederate soldiers enjoyed bacon and cornbread stuffing with a hint of green apple for sweetness.

In California, prospectors most likely stuffed their turkeys with sourdough bread and artichokes.

Some people enjoy adding chestnuts or hard-boiled eggs. No thanks, I’d rather use jelly beans.

I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf this stuffing season.

Beginning with Thanksgiving, I’m taking steps to enjoy dinner without feeling as stuffed as the turkey.

I’m going to enjoy savoring the aromas, colors, textures and presentation of the meal.

I’ll concentrate on socializing more with our guests.

A good beginning is deciding on how you want to feel when you’re done eating.

In the past, a family member pranked me by placing a picture of Snoopy steering the Metlife blimp on my chest as I slept in a tryptophan stupor on a lounge chair.

My goal is to avoid the need for loosening my belt or unbuckling my pants. Better yet, I want to avoid going to the basement and adding a new hole to my belt using a hammer and a 10-penny nail.

I did some research on the I’m Too Full to Breath website to get some advice.

Experts say to start by using a smaller plate, no sideboards.

Also, we should set our fork down between bites. In the past, it seemed like I seldom set the fork down between lunch and dinner.

I’ll remind myself that I can eat more later or at another meal.

I’m going to try not to be stuffed and miserable.

I’m worried because my will power is about as short as a Kardashian marriage.

Finally, I will ask myself, “Am I really hungry?”

Uh-oh, is that organ meat I smell?

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Tom Lavis

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