It's about life - not "lifestyle"
Once upon a time the holiday season was full of surprises, but it isn't always that way when you grow up. But I have had a few in the last couple of weeks, and I think my trip to the grocery early this morning may be the last of them for a while.

Currently between gigs, I managed to get myself footloose and fancy free at just about the same time. This proved to not be that big a short-term problem as many people take the entire Thanksgiving week off and go visit family. I found myself with several options for housesitting and naturally took the one with the best perks: friendly dogs, hot tub, minimal yard work, best view. Next week will take care of itself, I figure.

Several days into this R&R, mostly spent with shrieking Santa Ana winds playing havoc with trees and yards, and Thanksgiving is upon me. I've long known that the best thing to do on the day before a major travel holiday is to hunker down. I make every effort to get all the holiday prep work completed so there are no last minute trips to any stores for any reason. On days with feasting (in whatever manner) I also assume that the feasting will be on the holiday; I seldom do any blow-out cooking the night before.

Since this Thanksgiving will be fairly quiet for me, especially if the wind keeps me out of the hot tub and I don't actually go surfing, I only needed to lay in a minimal stock of supplies. I see Thanksgiving Day as being one of watching a little football, reading the newspapers, watching the Weather Channel and the Buffy The Vampire Slayer marathon. There will be a light breakfast, some snacking mid-day, and a scaled down turkey dinner for the evening after dark (in case of a good Autumn sunset).

Beverage of choice, given the onset of Winter in some parts of the county, has been chosen: Manhattans. To make a good Manhattan you mix 2/1 bourbon or Canadian Whiskey to vermouth, chill it as cold as possible, pour into a glass (never any ice), and plop a marischino cherry into it. Elegant and powerful.

Once, after work at a bar, some women in our party said that Manhattans were "ladies drinks" because they had cherries. An executive sitting nearby overheard this and immediately ordered the women at our table a Manhattan to taste. The women were horrified at the strength of this cocktail.

Sounds perfect for an afternoon of contemplation.

So off I go to the grocery this morning, and what to my surprise do I find? Chaos, that's what! The place wasn't actually as crowded as the store I'd been going to, but it was awash in a mix of ethnic and age and economic groups. Tall blonde "career women" were pushing their cups of coffee through throngs of Hispanic families in front of the meat counter, while in other aisles mothers pushed baby-laden shopping carts around retired people who were shopping for prices. I was just looking for a piece of turkey that would suit one person and wouldn't make a huge mess cooking, since post-holiday meal cleanup isn't one of my stronger traits. I settled on a chunk of turkey breast, which would really be more than enough for me and probably leave enough for a sandwich, but the cost was as much as a frozen turkey on sale.

I had just found the cherries when I almost ran into a huge standing sign in the main aisle by the meats and dairy products. It advertised a special for those who spent more than $15: a frozen, fully cooked full turkey for $4.99 with minimum $15 purchase. I knew I was over that limit already, and the turkey was fully cooked (if frozen), so I opened the frozen turkey door and started to rummage through the turkeys marked "fully cooked".

Pretty funny, I thought. The brand that was advertised was not to be found. There were plenty of frozen fully cooked turkeys, but they were all made by another company and the minimum price I saw was $15 - a full $8 more than a fresh-frozen turkey. The economic bait and switch was obvious. Sure, they might have had the advertised brand earlier and were just sold out, but I think in a sense of fair play they should have taken the sign away. You gotta stay on your toes.

I stuck with my chunk of turkey breast and made my way through the checkout lines and out of the store. I'm set and ready to settle in. The rest of the world is on it's own.

It's the holidays!
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