Rich Manieri, 10/22/2020 [Archive]

Thanksgiving in California: Take It Outside

Thanksgiving in California: Take It Outside

By Rich Manieri

This Thanksgiving promises to be a bonanza for dogs, raccoons, coyotes and any other varmints that call California home.

Every carnivore in the Golden State has gotten the health department's memo: This Thanksgiving is outdoors only! Imagine the leavings - discarded drumsticks, misplaced potatoes, spilled stuffing. Bon appetit!

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has pole vaulted over the line that separates good government from tyranny and canceled Thanksgiving. Well, that's not quite fair. Rather, he's made it very difficult to celebrate Thanksgiving if you follow his new rules.

Newsom has mandated that all Thanksgiving celebrations be held outside, provided only three households are represented in the gathering. Of course, all mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines must be observed.

I know what you're thinking. What if Uncle Joe, who's annoying, somewhat inappropriate and always stays too long needs to use the bathroom. Fear not. The guv has an answer.

"Attendees may go inside to use restrooms as long as the restrooms are frequently sanitized."

Just so we're all on the same page. After Uncle Joe uses the facilities, the cleaning crew needs to go in, disinfect and repaint if necessary.

If you have any questions about hygiene, the government offers a brief tutorial on how to wash your hands. A little refresher can't hurt.

"Everyone at a gathering should frequently wash their hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. A place to wash hands or hand sanitizer must be available for participants to use."

I'm not sure what "frequently" means. Every three minutes?

Also discouraged are "singing, chanting and shouting." I get the shouting. When I was a kid, if there was no shouting at an Italian Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or any gathering that included more than six people, I would have thought there was something horribly wrong. But are there many popular Thanksgiving chants? If you feel the need to chant, at least have the common decency to wear a mask.

For the mathematically challenged, there's this: "Gatherings may occur in outdoor spaces that are covered by umbrellas, canopies, awnings, roofs, and other shade structures provided that at least three sides of the space (or 75%) are open to the outdoors...Seating must provide at least 6 feet of distance (in all directions - front-to-back and side-to-side) between different households."

Got all that? To be safe, bring a tape measure and preferably a nephew who's majoring in math a Cal Tech.

And do you remember how you always passed the big bowl of mashed potatoes around the dinner table? Well, forget it.

"Shared items should not be used during a gathering. As much as possible, any food or beverages at outdoor gatherings must be in single-serve disposable containers."

And there's something else. There won't be much time for regaling your guests with post-feast storytelling, or even dessert for that matter. You need to keep it short - two hours maximum, the governor says. Then, it's everyone out, post-haste. If you have any lingerers, do what a friend of mine does when he decides the party's over and wants everyone to leave - start cleaning up. You can even put up the chairs. They'll get the hint. If not - and I hate to resort to this but rules are rules - you might have to get physical. I don't see anything wrong with hiring a bouncer for a couple of hours to clear out the riff raff.

Yes, in a state where only Nancy Pelosi can still get a rinse and a blow-out, you, the tax-paying citizens, have to celebrate Thanksgiving in the yard.

I'm not sure how California plans on enforcing what it calls "mandatory requirements for all gatherings." Along with the obvious challenges, defunding local police departments is all the rage in Cali so good luck finding enough cops to staff a special turkey detail.

I can see this leading to a resurgence of the "speakeasy," Thanksgiving style. Illicit establishments selling only turkey dinners will be popping up everywhere.

Here in Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, to whom the U.S. Constitution is merely an unsubstantiated rumor, hasn't told us to take it outside, at least not yet.

But that's the thing about government overreach. Give a bureaucrat with power and inch and he'll take a drumstick.

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Copyright 2020 Rich Manieri, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. You can reach him at manieri2@gmail.com.

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