Opinion

This ’n’ That by Nicky De Lange

It’s right before Thanksgiving and by now it’s most likely you will be up to your elbows in turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and whatever else you consider essential to a proper Thanksgiving Day meal.
What I’m trying to say is that, between turkey dinner, football and Black Friday sales, you might not have time to read every word of priceless prose in this column.

Thanksgiving dinner

But don’t fret. Luckily for you faithful readers, today’s effort will be the ever-funny T-shirt topic. And, even more luckily, I’ve just received a catalog I haven’t seen in ages – one that has some new and different funny shirts.
So take a few minutes while the pies are baking or the cornbread for your dressing is cooling down and consider who on your holiday gift list deserves one of these light-hearted tees. Put your own name on the list, too. Don’t you deserve some fun thing after creating a wonderful feast?
For example, if you’re eating your turkey at someone else’s home,
I highly recommend the shirt that announces: “WARNING! I do not know how to load the dishwasher properly.” That should get you out of KP duty fast.
For those who plan to imbibe during the holiday, here’s a handy guide you can wear and also use as
a reminder: “How to enjoy wine! 1) Open the bottle to allow it to breathe. 2) If it doesn’t look like it’s breathing, give it mouth-to-mouth.”
I really like that one. Another fave wine drinker’s T-shirt shows a wine glass with measuring lines that read “100 calories, 150 calories, 200 calories” and, finally, “Who cares?” Who indeed? It’s a holiday, right?
For dealing with relatives or guests who manage to get on your nerves at this time every year, try the following shirt: “I am NOT a control freak but … can
I show you the RIGHT way to do that?” That should either clue them in or scare them off.
On a more philosophical level, I really loved the shirt that asks: “IF I were wrong, don’t you THINK I’d know?”
This next one appealed to my admittedly warped sense of humor. Read it and reflect: “Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.” That brought back vivid memories of watching the movie Jurassic Park.
And now, my favorite, which I have saved for last because I really relate to its message. It says: “Chocolate comes from cocoa, which grows on a tree. A tree is a plant. Therefore chocolate counts as a vegetable.” Amen to that!
I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.
May you be blessed with a scrumptious turkey, your favorite dressing, lots of desserts and the chance
to celebrate with people you truly love!

Trishna’s tidbits
Modern musings by Trishna Buch

Happy Thanksgiving! Tomorrow, families all across America will be taking time off from work and school, sitting down at the dinner table and diving into a delicious meal.
From turkey to potatoes to green beans and apple pie, it’s the perfect opportunity for all of us to sit down and have a proper meal with our loved ones because, with all of our hectic lives, it can be difficult to find time to just sit down, take a break and enjoy an evening with our families. Being vegetarian, I will not be partaking in the carving and consumption of the meal for which this particular holiday is best known. However, that does not mean I cannot enjoy the spirit of the holiday. The mashed potatoes, green beans and pie that complement every Thanksgiving meal happen to be some of my favorite foods, so I can guarantee that I will be indulging myself tomorrow.
But Thanksgiving is not only about the food. In fact, it is really not about the food at all. It is about counting our blessings and saying our thanks for the privileged lives we lead.
The true value of Thanksgiving is often overlooked, perhaps because the holiday is surrounded by Halloween, Veterans Day and Christmas and falls right before one of the biggest shopping days of the year. It does not surprise me, for example, when I see stores putting up Christmas decorations as early as November 1, completely sidelining the late-November holiday.
With all that in mind, then, I would like to mention, briefly, the things for which I am thankful. I am hoping that, in doing so, you will take a minute out of the day to stop and think about all the things you have to be thankful for yourself.
Many of the things that we take to be nuisances – traffic, long hours at work or school and never-ending medical appointments, for example – should be taken as blessings because our lives could be a lot worse.
I am thankful for my family, my friends, my job and my health. I am thankful to be living in the land of opportunities where every dream of mine can be fulfilled with hard work.
I am thankful to have a roof over my head, food on my plate and clothes to keep me warm. I am thankful to be living in a country whose principle is that everyone is free to be who they want to be without fear.
What are you thankful for?

Don’t be a turkey in the war on want

Talking of the value of Thanksgiving,
I cannot resist mentioning a growing problem in our country and one of my biggest beefs – food waste.
According to Take Care Of Texas: “We waste the equivalent of $370 worth
of food per person per year, or enough money to buy about 21 turkeys for
each American.”
These numbers are frightening, to say the least. I find it ironic that, on a day when we are meant to be celebrating our blessings, we end it by throwing away so much food that we haven’t eaten. Seeing food wasted irks me because of the people all around the world who do not have enough to eat. There are so many men, women and children who do not know when they will get their next meal, while we are throwing away platefuls of food.
But, in time for Thanksgiving, Take Care Of Texas says there are ways to combat this.
First, it is important to buy only what you need. Prepare a list of the ingredients you need for your Thanksgiving meal and do not buy any others. That way, not only will you save money but you can almost guarantee that everything you purchase will be used.
Second, the way you store your foods is important. Before preparing the meal, make sure you store your fruits and vegetables properly to prevent them from spoiling. It’s a massive chore and inconvenience to have to go out
to buy more produce because of a storage mistake.
After the meal, make sure you store any leftovers properly. For example, store the turkey separately from the stuffing – and eat the leftovers before they expire.
No one is perfect and sometimes food does spoil, so Take Care Of Texas recommends composting uneaten leftovers rather than throwing them away, allowing them to become nutrients for your yard.
But be warned – not every food can be composted! Meat, fish, grease and dairy products are a few items that cannot while coffee grounds, tea bags and vegetable scraps are a few items that can be.
Any unopened food items can be donated to your local food bank, a gift that gels nicely with the true value of Thanksgiving.
So, after you have filled yourself with as much turkey, potatoes and other treats as you can manage, take a minute to think about the less fortunate before
you throw your leftovers
in the trash.
Like my mother used to say when I was young: “There are starving children who would do anything to have the food you have, so don’t you dare let it go to waste.”
For more information,
go online to takecareoftexas.org, select Media, then Hot Wire, then the article Gratitude For Food:
A Thanksgiving Feast Is Too Good To Waste.

Next, a day of ingratitude …

After enjoying a relaxing day with loved ones tomorrow, many folks will spend Friday fighting traffic and crowds to be on some store’s doorstep when its super-sale doors open.
So much for the wonders of Black Friday, a day on which I hibernate as I am not much of a shopper.
All right, I can hear your gasps of shock and horror. “A girl who doesn’t like shopping?” you’re probably exclaiming. “That’s unheard of!”
Well, I guess I’m an exception to the rule. So it might be no surprise to you that I have never shopped on Black Friday. Ever.
I find it ironic that we will spend all of Thursday giving thanks for the things we have only to spend the next day pushing past people to get hold of even more gadgets because they’re on sale at cut prices.
Now, I am not saying sales aren’t good – they are. But is any item so important that you have to risk injury in order to buy it?
Yes, people have been seriously injured and even killed while Black Friday shopping. If you google “Black Friday deaths” many websites show up, even including one called blackfridaydeathaccount.com. That’s not a very comforting thought, is it?
But all the injuries can be easily avoided if you remain calm during your shopping trip, help out anyone who looks distressed and realize that nothing, not even the latest cell phone at only half price, is worth a life.
There is certainly no need to be up at 3:00am, waiting for store doors to open. Black Friday lasts the entire day, so why not navigate through the hordes in the afternoon? Of course, if you do have your heart set on a certain item, it’s your call but, no matter when or if you choose to participate in Black Friday, just make sure you stay safe and enjoy your day.

entringer-martin-2016-cropped            Martin Entringer

By guest writer Martin Entringer

If you love to cook, Thanksgiving is possibly your favorite holiday.
It gives both novice and pro cooks a chance to show off their skills while creating cherished memories around the dining-room table.thanksgivingdinnerc07hg_l_300_c_r
The county health district’s consumer health services division knows a thing or two about food safety. After all, our sanitarians routinely inspect more than 1,800 retail food stores, mobile food units and roadside vendors for compliance with safety regulations.
We also investigate complaints and foodborne illnesses. Our role is to help make sure the food you eat from restaurants is properly prepared so you or your family don’t fall sick.
Although your Thanksgiving meal probably won’t feed as many people as a restaurant, you should still make food safety a priority so your guests don’t remember it for all the wrong reasons.
First, we want to make sure you know the safest ways to thaw, prepare, stuff and cook the turkey. We recommend four food-safety tips to take the guesswork out of preparing your holiday bird.
Safe thawing – This must be done at a safe temperature. The “danger zone” is between 40° and 140°F, the range in which foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely but, as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that might have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, if it is in the danger zone.
Safe preparation – Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils and work surfaces as you prepare your turkey. If these areas are not cleared thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw bird can then be transferred to other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces before they touch other foods.
Safe stuffing – For optimal safety and a uniform finish, it is best to cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. If you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached that temperature, possibly resulting in foodborne illness.
Safe cooking – Set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F and be sure the turkey
is completely thawed. Place
it breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan two to two-and-a-half inches deep. Check the internal temperature at the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thig, and wing joint using a food thermometer.
Cooking times will vary. The food thermometer must show a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before removing all the stuffing from its cavity and carving the meat.
When it comes to leftovers, refrigerate the turkey with the meat removed from the carcass and the stuffing separated, placing both in shallow containers, within two hours of cooking. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for three to four days.
You can also safely freeze leftovers but use them within two to six months for best quality. Always reheat leftovers to 165°F throughout.
On behalf of the health district, have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Martin Entringer is manager of the county health district’s consumer health services division, which is responsible for enforcing the rules and regulations that govern food establishments.

newton-jennifer-2014            Jennifer Newton

By guest writer Jennifer Newton

Holiday season is not only a time of celebration, fun and family; it’s also a time of year when youth are more likely to experiment with drinking alcohol. According to SAMHSA, the substance abuse and mental health services administration, when students are out of school – winter holidays, spring break and summer – they are more likely to try using alcohol for the first time.
You can help young people make a healthier choice by restricting their access to alcohol. Not only is it illegal
to provide alcohol to minors;
it is dangerous. The combination of alcohol and young people can lead to many problems.
When teens add alcohol
to celebrations, it increases the risk of other drug use, unprotected sex, alcohol poisoning, injury, impaired driving and an increased chance of being a victim of theft, violence or sexual assault.
Underage drinking costs the state of Texas more than $6 billion a year in healthcare costs, property damage and loss of life.
It is illegal for stores to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 and, according to the Texas school survey, only around 10 per cent of Texas youth obtain their alcohol from a store. Most young people report accessing it
at home, from friends or family and at parties.
It’s important for parents and all adults to know that providing alcohol to a minor is illegal. In Texas, furnishing alcohol to a minor is a class A misdemeanor that can lead to penalties including up to one year in jail,
a $4,000 fine and a six-month suspension of your driver’s license.
Additionally, under the Texas social hosting law, you could be held liable for any damages that occur as a result of providing alcohol to minors or allowing them to drink in your home.
There are some relatively easy ways to ensure you have
a safe, healthy holiday season.
Talk to your teens about the seriousness of underage drinking and set clear rules about your no-alcohol-
use instruction.
Plan family activities over each holiday weekend or plan to host a safe, alcohol-free party at your house. Make sure your kids know the law and make sure you keep in the know about where they are.
For more information
on how to talk to your kids about underage drinking
or to get involved in preventing it in your community, contact Galveston County Community Coalition at coalitions@bacoda.org or visit www.bacoda.org.
Jennifer Newton is communications coordinator for Bay Area Council On Drugs And Alcohol, a nonprofit founded in 1974 to fight the effects of drug and alcohol abuse in the Galveston Bay area.

deaton-rebecca-2016              Rebecca Deaton

By guest writer Rebecca Deaton

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and other holidays can be particularly difficult for folks who have lost loved ones. Grief can be magnified by holiday sights and sounds, causing bad memories to come flooding back.
It’s a time when losses are felt more acutely for children and teens, as well as the adults who care for them. In response to these needs, Hospice Care Team is reaching out to youngsters grieving the death of a loved one and also offering a four-week group series called Coping With The Holidays for bereaved adults.
On December 17, we will host an event titled Holiday Memories For Grieving Children. Sponsored by a grant from Yaga’s Children’s Fund, the goal of the event is to show grieving youngsters between the ages of five and 16 that the holiday season can be a time when sadness can be balanced by good memories.
By encouraging your child or teen to attend this free event, you will give them a special gift – permission to talk about their loss with their peers and grief counselors – and help them to honor the memory of their loved ones while they embrace the joy of the season.
Special age-appropriate activities are planned around a time of sharing, to help children and teens to use their creativity to remember their loved ones in a different way this year. Led by a licensed clinical social worker, activities will include remembering holidays past, holiday-themed crafts, a fun-filled pizza lunch and a special balloon release
to help grieving youngsters achieve closure from their loss.
The event will run from 10:00am until 1:00pm at HCT’s office in suite B at 11441 32nd Avenue North, Texas City. You’ll find us behind Carnes funeral home on I-45.
Facilitated by bereavement professionals, our adult groups are starting this week and continuing into December.
On Tuesday, the first holiday group meeting will take place at First United Methodist church in Dickinson from 4:00-5:30pm. The group will also meet
on November 29 and December 6 and 13. If you are grieving, I encourage you to attend all four meetings to take full advantage of the education and support our groups provide.
Each group series is open
to any adult in the community who has had a loss, regardless of whether your loved one received hospice service.
Holiday Memories and our Coping With The Holidays groups are free
of charge but space is limited for both and registration is required, so please contact me directly at 409-938-0070 to register your child or teen for the former or yourself for the latter.
Rebecca Deaton is bereavement services director for Hospice Care Team.