Turkey Day Etiquette
By Jean Godden, Times Staff Columnist
From The Seattle Times, Wednesday, November 27, 1996
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
(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:
Thanksgiving Day guests will arrive wearing Seattle tuxes:
clean jeans, turtleneck sweaters and down jackets with
weathered ski-lift tags. Hiking boots are optional.
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
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.
If you are attending a family gathering, expect this reminder:
"Don't forget to bring your Christmas list to Thanksgiving
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.
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.
Local custom calls for every left-handed diner to be seated
to the right of a right-handed diner, maximizing chances for
At least two different patterns of dinnerware must be visible
on the table during every course.
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
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.
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.
One vegetarian guest will complain about the fare, saying,
"Why can't we ever have tofu au gratin?"
Provide two kinds of pie and diners will either decline or
ask for "a sliver of both."
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.
After all guests depart, at least one never-served dish will
turn up in the refrigerator.
Some guests will arrive very early; some will show up late.
But they'll all leave at the same time.