Sunday, November 29, 2009


As many of you probably know, Rachel and I do not travel home for Thanksgiving. With the crowds and chaos at airports and 3 hours distance between our two families, it is just too much trouble to travel when we will be going home for Christmas in less than a month anyway. It is our one holiday at home.

Our good friends, Nicole and Tim Callahan, invited us to go with them to Nicole's family get-together in New Jersey for Thanksgiving. Nicole comes from a large Italian family, so Rachel and I were very anxious to see what Thanksgiving in New Jersey was all about.

The family - about 50 in total - converged on Nicole's mom's place in central Jersey. Luckily, there is a community center there, which the family rents for these events. Nicole's Aunt and Uncle also live in the community, and they are "connected" (Nicole's Uncle is the President of the Community organization).

Let me tell you, New York/New Jersey Italians know how to do Thanksgiving. The main course is very similar to a southern Thanksgiving - Turkey, ham, stuffing, relish tray, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, and they even had biscuits and cornbread. Nicole's Mom, Uncle Tom, and Cousin Jack were the main chefs. Jack, upon learning that Rachel was a vegetarian, had even prepared cous-cous for her.

The picture at the beginning of this blog shows the desert table. There were enough pies to feed a small army. Cookies, Nicole's Mom's AWESOME rice pudding and pastries were also plentiful.

The primary difference from a southern Thanksgiving was that there was an opening course. Nicole's mom had made manicotti from scratch for an antipasta course. They also had Italian salad, which was awesome. I am a big fan of the extra Italian flare added to Thanksgiving. We should do it this way in the south!

I have to give an extra shout-out to my buddy Tim Callahan, who fought through a concussion, earned in a vicious hit from "Uncle Bob" in the annual Thanksgiving morning Callahan/Carroll touch football bowl. After the vicious hit, Tim went on to throw 3 TD passes, take a shower (which he doesn't remember), ride to New Jersey, and eat Thanksgiving dinner, before going to the hospital to learn that he did, in fact, have a concussion. If you zoom in on the photograph here, you can likely see that one of Tim's pupils is much larger than the others (which we now all know is a sign of a concussion). "No fun" Nicole has now forbade him from playing in next year's game.

REFLECTIONS - Black Friday

The above picture is from the back of the Best Buy store in Montgomeryville, PA at 4:30 AM on Friday November 27, 2009. This is from the exact spot where I was standing in line 30 minutes before the store opened for Black Friday. The video below shows the line at the front of the store that led from the door, around the side and half way around the back of the store 30 minutes prior to opening.

Prior to Friday morning, I was a Black Friday virgin. I had never participated in this ultimate symbol of capitalism. After my experience at Best Buy, I will never participate again. I had always been told that Taiwan was capitalism on steroids. I am not convinced that Taiwan must be like Black Friday every day of the year.

At 5:07 AM, I entered the front of the Best Buy store with one simple mission - pick up two gifts. I would then head back home and go to bed for an extra hour of sleep before taking Rachel to work. Things didn't quite work out as planned.

I was surprised by the lack of chaos when I entered the store. This is when I learned of the "Racetrack System". Best Buy blocks off aisles with huge boxes of stereos, TV's and other appliances, so that shoppers are directed through a single line, as they enter each department. If you want an I-Pod, you have to form a single cue and maneuver through the "Audio Racetrack". If you want printer ink, you enter the single-file "PC Racetrack". I believe that this invention was set up to protect passive southerners, like myself, from aggressive shopping "Yankee" women. I have few phobias in life... only spiders, alligators and angry northern women.

There is only one problem with the Racetrack System. If you miss what you are looking for on your first pass through, you have to reenter the line and continue the entire process again.

Best Buy severely disappointed me on this trip. The items that I was trying to retrieve from their mailing circular were not clearly marked or distinguished from other items. Many of the large ticket items on the floor were not clearly price marked.

After wandering through "Racetracks" aimlessly for about 25 minutes, I left Best Buy dejected and giftless. Live and Learn. Some people just aren't cut out for Black Friday shopping. I am one of those people.


Erin said...

Kennedy - I am so proud of you for trying Black Friday. I've never tried it solo - a key ingredient to success is team work. The lack of organization can be a real bummer at stores. I've only seen angry Southern and Texans, but I know a couple of angry midwestern women, so I can only imagine the fury that comes with minimal sleep on Black Friday.

See you in Nashvegas over Christmas?


Mark said...

In addition to Schwie's suggestion of teamwork, I have also heard that jiu-jitsu and a billy club are key ingredients to a "successful" Black Friday. I've yet to see a sale that's so good it's worth dealing with that madness.

I love the addition of manicotti to their Thanksgiving. Melding to the traditional foods with a taste of the family heritage is perfect.

Great post but now I'm hungry.

Callahan said...

Steve - forgot to mention two things:
- that in Nicole's family the manicotti is pronounced 'MANIGOATS' (for what reason I don't know)
- and that your were on the receiving end of those touchdown passes

bill said...

Steve- Can't believe you were up for Black Friday. Even worse I can't believe you didn't connect. I have to believe lack of sleep played a role in your "aimless wandering".

Remember Al Gore invented the internet so you don't have to do that kind of thing. Time and your sanity are worth a lot more than a great bargain. I always think this is why I went to college so I don't have to mosh it up on Black Friday. We aren't built for this kind of thing, and that is ok.

Great ideas on the food/tradition mixing I'd be up for that Italian/Thanksgiving option, mix in a burrito, or fajita bar, and then you are really on to something.