The Buck Starts Here
Set An Empty Place
By Marge Van Ostrand

     During the entire 2002 holiday season, I’m dressing only in black as tribute to the former Martha Stewart. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, poor Martha may either be in court fighting for her corporate life, or in some cushy jail sharing a cell with a prisoner named Bubbette.
     Wherever she may be, we shouldn’t expect Ms. Stewart for dinner this year.
     Picking up Martha’s maven mantle, I’d like to share with you a Baker’s dozen handy hints from my own Thanksgiving table:
     1. Spray Pine Sol around the dining room so people will think you cleaned.
     2. Make faux Indian Corn centerpiece out of the fragmented Kleenex you pulled from the washing machine’s lint basket during the year. Tell everyone it’s popcorn.
     3. Utilize newspapers to protect table from guests who slobber. If trying to impress people, use the latest financial report from Lloyd.
     4. Use dishes made of only the finest grade of Styrofoam. Plastic utensils hand-painted with pictures of gay Pilgrims should be carefully placed at each end of the table in decorated jelly glasses. Empty jelly first.
     5. Make napkins of pages surreptitiously ripped from old directories in the LCS office. Fold so the 1988 dates are hidden.
     6. Do not use turkey feathers to re-stuff the couch pillows, unless of course they are first plucked from the turkey.
     7. With a hypodermic syringe, shoot the center of sweet potatoes full of butter before cooking. This method should cut down on Aunt Fanny’s unfortunate inability to chew without squirting melted lard out of the sides of her mouth.
     8. Remember to defrost the stringbeans before serving. We don’t want to again arm the kids with lethal legumes and hear them incessantly shouting “Incoming Scud!” from the children’s table.
     9. Remember what happened last year when creaming the onions? This year, remove the skins first.
     10. When heating canned gravy, be sure to add lumps of flour for authenticity.
     11. When it’s time for people to take their seats, do not yell out, “Assume the position.” The sound of the smoke alarm will effectively alert that dinner is ready.
     12. If anyone asks for Mexican food instead of turkey, say “See that bird? Take it or leave it. I’m not serving burritos because too much gas is bad for the ozone.”
     13. Immediately after dinner, announce the side effects of what your guests have just eaten. This will place guilt where it belongs — on the people who did not offer to cook this year.
     On second thought, maybe I’ll just throw a fund-raising fiesta for Martha’s bail.
Without her, I might not make it to Christmas.