I don't cling to many traditions. But there is one I'm following -- sending out this story every year.
When you see Frosty, and Rudolph, and hear the radio stations go all Christmas all the time, and you get my sordid little tale, you know it's THE HOLIDAYS.
This isn’t a Thanksgiving recipe. It’s more a series of events that became a recipe for disaster.
You see, my wife and I like to spend weekends on Eastern Long Island. It’s nice to get away from the concrete jungle of NYC for peaceful time at the beach. Nothing beats salt air and the squawk of the sea gulls, especially when the beach is empty.
Out east, our place is tiny -- about as big as the John in Dale Jr.’s motor coach. Our kitchen is large enough for a child with an EasyBake oven, and we have no family in the Hamptons. So we don't cook. We go out.
One particular Thanksgiving, for turkey dinner, we head to a mom-and-pop diner we’d patronized before. It's actually near Riverhead Raceway. Viviane likes the diner’s rustic feel, and I prefer the small-town prices compared to Southampton’s shi-shi designer joints with small portions on the menu and large portions of jewelry on the patrons.
This particular Thanksgiving, as my wife and young Gaby (before rock and roll, and plans for a full-sleeve tattoo on an arm) settle into our booth, things feel disjointed.
The restaurant seems…well, different. Two cheery corn-fed squeaky-clean buxom-blonde peach-cheeked teenage Christian girls immediately slap down plates of steaming turkey, spilling over with rich gravy and fluffy trimmings. No menu, they just bring piles of food brought with midwestern wholesome cheer.
Looking around, the other patrons quietly enjoying their dinners are a bit, well…different. Disenfranchised, could you say?
Now, my family isn’t dressed for the Prom; Riverhead is still largely a blue collar town, and yours truly has on sweats that have been near the tide but not the Tide, if you know what I mean. I’m in need of a haircut, presently resembling Boris Said with Bed Head.
But even I look generally more presentable than the others. The men wear greasy caps and scraggly growth on weathered faces. The women appear as if they’ve been around the block several times at a high rate of speed. We are in Kansas no more.
Indeed, as our wide eyes scan the room, it becomes clear to each of us about the same precise moment that the Giangolas are enjoying a soup kitchen-style Thanksgiving dinner with the homeless.