A Grin at the End: Best holiday ever… With an even better after-day tradition

November 2015 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonBy Carl Sampson

I like holidays — all of them. I like Christmas, New Year’s, the Fourth of July, Labor Day — even National Ice Cream Day (the third Sunday in July) and Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19).

But my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.

I like everything about it. I like the fact that it’s not tied to a religious event. Mind you, I’m all for religious events, but I think there should be a time when everyone, religious or not, should be able to get together without anyone feeling left out.

I also like the fact that Thanksgiving is about sharing. You invite people to your house – or conversely, you go to someone’s house – and all that is expected is that you share your goodwill, a few jokes, maybe a bottle of wine and enjoy yourself. There are no expectations other than you have to show up before the turkey burns.

And I like the fact that Thanksgiving is a time to relax. Yes, the cooks get a workout. Most start working on the Thanksgiving meal the day before.

Though I’m certainly not the primary cook, I’ve even made stuffing the weekend before, just to get it done before my wife starts with the heavy lifting.

My primary role, however, isn’t cooking. That’s something for which everyone should be thankful.

I can barely cook a hot dog, much less a full turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy and all of the trimmings.

My specialty is cleanup. The number of people who spend Thanksgiving at our house ranges from 10 to more than double that, so there are always plenty of dishes to wash.

I used to chuckle when watching those TV shows that feature fancy houses for sale because most would have two or three dishwashers. On Thanksgiving, we could use all of the dishwashers on the block. We have more dirty dishes than a state dinner at the White House.

But it all gets done, just about the time I start to run out of energy. That’s when I grab a last piece of pie and sit down and start to get ready for the Big Day.

I’m not talking about buying socks on sale. I’m talking about our annual post-Thanksgiving wine tasting expedition.

For the past 10 years, on the day after Thanksgiving, we have packed up friends, relatives – whoever wants to go – and hit the road on a quest for wine. Last year, we outgrew the SUV so we rented a van to carry all of the winos – I mean, aficionados.

The agenda is simple: We drive around the Willamette Valley looking for the best of the best, or at least the best of cheapest. Then we go to dinner or catch a movie, or both.

Over the years, we’ve stopped at 40 to 50 wineries total. Some wine has been good. Some has been great. And some, well, has been a little less than spectacular.

Which is the best? I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to my wife and the others.

I’m just the designated driver. My drink of choice: an ice cold, caffeine infused, bubbling Diet Coke.

I find it curiously refreshing, with a note of brown food coloring and a hint of aspartame.

Note: To learn about the wineries near Silverton,
Mount Angel and Scotts Mills, visit


Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.