Family, friends, food, and football—those are enough to make Thanksgiving a truly stellar holiday. What really puts the day over the top is the rare occasion when the Redskins get involved. It’s been ten years, but finally the Skins return to center stage when they take on the Dallas Cowboys right in the middle of the nation’s most important meal.
Whether you’re playing host or attending someone else’s gathering, here are tips to help you get through the day without missing the action.
Avoid Cowboys fans. This should be your rule for every Thanksgiving, but it bears repeating this year. It’s bad enough we’re subjected to them as often as we are in our daily lives—there’s no need to put up with that “America’s Team” nonsense on an otherwise pleasant holiday. Even a single crowing Cowboys fan could bring on gastric distress, and you don’t want to risk spoiling your appetite before dessert.
If you regularly celebrate the day with Dallas-loving family or friends, this could be a hard rule to follow. Be strong. While I’m not suggesting going so far as faking your own death, you probably should start field-testing some excuses as to why you won’t be able to get together this year. Of course they’ll be devastated. After all, Cowboys fans love hating the Redskins more than they love their own team.
Preparation is crucial. If you’re doing the cooking and are intent on watching the game with minimal interruption, you’ll have to make sacrifices. Take the Thanksgiving turkey: Done properly, it’s moist on the inside with skin as crisp and mahogany-tinged as Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. The problem is, getting that Shanny-style bird takes a lot of effort. If your focus is divided between the television and the oven, you’re liable to wind up serving a burned bird or a 20-pound salmonella bomb.
Instead, consider something a bit less traditional. Turkey chili only gets better after a day or three in the refrigerator, and it reheats with little effort. Plus—no time wasted on carving.
Limit distractions. The holiday provides plenty of them outside the kitchen—the young, the old, the prematurely intoxicated. All should be avoided until after the game. Oh, and beware of the non-football fans. Armed with just enough knowledge to bombard an actual fan with a never-ending stream of questions, they could be the biggest threat to your attention span. So fix yourself a plate, grab a drink, and claim some all-important couch territory. Leave the socializing to others.
Try to be civil. It’s important to make concessions to guests who aren’t there for the football. Your best bet is to offer the token gesture of turning down the TV volume. It comes off as selfless, but the effort is mutually beneficial: The only thing worse than a dry slice of chalky breast meat is Joe Buck. And the only thing worse than Joe Buck is his broadcast partner (and former Dallas quarterback) Troy Aikman talking about your beloved Redskins.
This article appears in the November 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.