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Go ahead and have a Happy Thanksgiving "The news will be full of warnings and dire descriptions of going off your diet and getting terribly fat."

Thanksgiving is a day for joy and gratitude and having fun, right? There was a time when it was one of America's favorite holidays.

But you wouldn't know it from what you now read, see or hear. Television, the Internet, magazines, and, yes, newspapers, too, are full of warnings about the holiday.

What's with all this fearful anticipation stuff? We walk around like Joe Btfsplk, the Li'l Abner guy with the cloud over his head. It hasn't started yet as I write this, but we all know that by 6 o'clock tonight, the news will be full of warnings and dire descriptions of going off your diet and getting terribly fat.

What happened to happy?

There's a big story in the New York Times this week about how pigging out during the holidays can cause a lot more trouble that simply popping the buttons at your waist.

"Vast helpings of turkey, stuffing and candied sweet potatoes can take a more serious toll," warns Tara Parker-Pope in the paper of record.

"Big meals can raise the risk for heart attack, gallbladder pain and dangerous drowsiness on the drive home." There is one optimistic statement in the story, though, referring back to a physician's recent book. "Although your stomach may feel as if it will burst, gastric rupture is extremely rare," says Parker-Pope.

Well, thanks for that.

But we've just started down the Road to Doom. What about the stories about how the roads are going to be jammed this week or how we're all going to get stuck on a tarmac somewhere?

How about the warnings of a blizzard in Canada -- why are they always colored bright blue on the map? -- that might strike this weekend. The operative word is "might."

You "might" also hit the lottery.

It's a slow news period, I guess, and you have to fill the air or the space with something.

But there's much more. Let us now consider all those "relationship" experts who will pontificate about the damage done to our psyches when we're forced to sit down with our dysfunctional families at this one dinner of the year. (I'm tempted to quote the King of Spain here: "Shut up," he was quoted as saying at a recent conference.)

Or, how about the food columns? See, I take the blame along with the rest of my peers. Just think about the damage that might occur along the culinary lines:

The turkey might be too dry.

It might not thaw out in time to roast.

The mashed potatoes could be lumpy; the vegetables might be overcooked.

If you're not careful about stuffing, everyone might get sick.

Let us not even discuss what might happen to the gravy.

When, just when, did we enter this Slough of Despond? And can we please climb out? Sure some of the above might happen; all of the above probably won't.

You'll be OK; your family will be OK. Even grateful -- what the heck.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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