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Nina In New York: Occupy Elastic Waistbands

A young professional's take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

By Nina Pajak

Well, friends. The day is nearly here!

Turkey Day. Or perhaps to you, it's Side Dish Day. The battle wages on.

For me, it is my very favorite day, better than Hanukkah and Christmas and Passover and New Years and Arbor Day and Independence Day and Rosh Hashana and Easter and Purim and Kwanzaa and Diwali and President's Day all rolled into one. Here are some reasons why:

1. Stuffing. I cannot, simply cannot say enough about stuffing. For one thing, it's bread, so already that's pretty great. I'm an inside-the-bird kinda gal, believe it or not. Despite all of my germaphobia and restaurant cleanliness obsession and generally craziness, once a year I allow myself to suspend mental illness in favor of a big, juicy helping of poultry-soaked carbomagic. In fact, I've spent the better part of this afternoon having an academic discussion with my mother over the virtues of doing stuffing the old-fashioned, "I've never heard of salmonella" way. Unfortunately, given that we're having my in-laws over and we all like them and would feel very badly if we did give them foodborne illness, I think I've lost the battle. Moving on.

2. My birthday. I like my birthday as much as the next person, but I'm not one of those people who demands giant parties and office acknowledgment (though the latter is inescapable). However, the confluence of my birthday with Thanksgiving each year seems to have some sort of magnetic effect on the lunar tides, which sends the Sagittarius to rise in the House of Zeus, and what with the Daughters of Jupiter being what they are, it all comes together on Thursday to kick off a veritable weeks-long Saturnalia of feasting, toasting and celebration. This period of fêting runs directly into the holiday party season, which runs into Christmas, which runs into New Years, and on January 3rd I return to Earth approximately fifteen pounds heavier, ten of which are mostly composed of booze.

3. I secretly enjoy preparing raw meat and doing gross things like removing the giblets. I also like to say the word giblets.

4. Not like I really need another item here, but let's not forget togetherness. And by that I mean that we can all get together without anywhere else to be in the morning or later that night, and just stuff our faces silly in the space of about twenty minutes on a meal that took days to prepare. There's no religious ceremony we have to run through or service anyone has to attend beforehand (aside from the aforementioned meal preparation, which is in some ways a ritual of its own). Nobody cares what anyone is wearing, and in fact everyone heartily endorses the concept of starting out the meal in loose-fitting, forgiving clothing rather than giving up later and changing into it. Then we can all go sit down, moan and complain, fall asleep for thirty minutes, realize it's only like, 8:00 PM, and agree as a group to turn a blind eye when someone goes back in for a snack an hour later. Or better yet, join in. If that's not bonding, I don't know what is.

5. Everybody sleeps through the football game. Not just me.

I mean really, this is kind of a no-brainer. Think about it. We have a national holiday which was established essentially to honor the art of eating. And, like, pilgrims or something, but I think everyone decided they weren't so nice after all, right? Let's drop the pretense. This is about eating. And family and thankfulness and blahblahblah it's about eating! It's almost like it was created specifically with me in mind. I just love it so much, I want to jump up and down and squeeze people and the dog and squeal with delight. But I can't, because it's only Wednesday, and right now we're all still starving ourselves in anticipation of the Great Feast and I am needed in the kitchen to continue chopping something or other.

Have a very happy holiday all!


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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