SEATTLE'S TURKEY DAY ETIQUETTE
It's been 145 years since the first white settlers landed at Alki Beach at Thanksgiving time, took one look at the overcast skies and the sodden, rain-soaked West Seattle terrain, and burst into tears.
(History, alas, doesn't record the response of the Native Americans when they spotted those tear-drenched settlers. But they probably were too polite to laugh out loud.)
In the intervening years, the first residents and the settlers have worked out the rules for Thanksgiving, Puget Sound style. Here they are, recently updated by an ad hoc Turkey Day committee:
DRESS CODE. Thanksgiving Day guests will arrive wearing Seattle tuxes: clean jeans, turtleneck sweaters and down jackets with weathered ski-lift tags. Hiking boots are optional.
CONVERSATION'S GAMBIT. Topics will include: 1) the election; 2) previous elections; and, 3) the next election. Several arguments will ensue before the host or hostess declares politics 'off-limits.'
CLEANERS' COROLLARY. Spills will happen in direct proportion to the staining capacity of the dish (cranberry sauce rates high) and the expense of dry cleaning the garment.
CHRISTMAS CONVENTION. If you are attending a family gathering, expect this reminder: 'Don't forget to bring your Christmas list to Thanksgiving dinner.'
MEOW'S MOMENT. The family cat will appear long enough to 1) shed hair on anyone wearing a black or navy-blue sweater; 2) perch on the lap of whoever most dislikes cats; and, 3) insist on sharing the smoked-salmon hors d'oeuvres. Formal Dresses 2020
OLD-TIMERS' LAMENT. Some oldster in the group will remark that it's a rotten shame there's no longer a Turkey Day football game between Puget Sound and Seattle high-school champs.
ELBOW'S LAW. Local custom calls for every left-handed diner to be seated to the right of a right-handed diner, maximizing chances for spills.
PORCELAIN'S PROGRESS. At least two different patterns of dinnerware must be visible on Puget Sound tables during every course.
SALAD LAW. Tossed salads supplied by guests will arrive with an excess of moisture, supplied by ambient rainfall. If the day is merely overcast, the host or hostess should add water before serving.
MOLDED SALAD LAW. Guaranteed to do one of three things: contain miniature marshmallows, fail to unmold properly, or slide off the serving plate onto the lap of one of the diners.
GRAVY'S CONSTANT. The silver gravy boat -- a wedding present from Great Aunt Emma and Uncle Ed -- will vanish before the meal. It will show up next summer when you're searching for beach towels.
TURKEY'S GRIPE. One vegetarian guest will complain about the fare, saying, 'Why can't we ever have tofu au gratin?'
PIE'S PARADOX. Provide two kinds of pie and diners will either decline or ask for 'a sliver of both.'
POLLYANNA'S PRINCIPLE. Guests will include one orphan, someone from out of town who can't make it home. If no orphan is available, the family oddball can substitute.
REFRIGERATOR'S RULE. After all guests depart, at least one never-served dish will turn up in the refrigerator.
DEPARTURE'S RULE. Some guests will arrive very early; some will show up late. But they'll all leave at the same time.