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 (Jim Horan - 1997) Copyright ©  All Rights Reserved.

Recently I wrote a plan of action for a group we belong to. In it was mentioned that "good planning beats good luck every time". Perhaps I may have to revisit that document for minor amendments.

For the past 12 years as many of you are aware, our "family" has experienced a bit of tension around the Thanksgiving dinner. On December 31st last year Dottie and I pledged a resolution that we would be victorious in our pursuit of a "traditional Bird" dinner at Thanksgiving. (It should be noted for the newer members of the BB, due to certain mishaps of the past Dottie, even with the assistance of a generous intake of Prozac, can not speak nor hear the word "Turkey". Just too much flashback activity, so we euphemistically refer to it as "The Bird.")

A few days later we were looking out the window at a neighbor removing Xmas lights and decorations from their roof top when the inspiration hit me. It was perfect! It was fool proof! HE hated cold as did HIS co-conspirator EmmyLou. We'd beat them this year by going at their weakness.

During the Summer we acquired an electric smoker. Step 1 was in practicing removing certain other forms of meat from the car trunk and dashing them into the garage where the smoker was plugged in and waiting. Of course one of us would have to be inside to distract the "enemy". After certain trial and error revisions to the plan, we finally were able to get the timing perfected. A draw back was we had to nail shut the door going from the garage to the kitchen as well as sealing off all other forms of entry/exit. Admittedly this was a bit of a nuisance having to sit in a smoke filled, non ventilated room for 4 hours awaiting the finished product. It was of course also necessary to consume the finished product immediately before unsealing the garage.

The secret of any good plan is one's ability to adapt for changing conditions. While in the warmth of Summer a smoker performs quite well with a reasonable amount of time expended. However, in a final testing last week under somewhat different weather patterns (wind-chill -2), we discovered the need to expand our time line a tad. From 4 hours to 2 days! No mind. We started Tuesday night. Realizing that it would be somewhat inconvenient to lock ourselves in the garage for 2 days and admitting we wanted a really nice repast with the proper ambiance, we adapted further. We just sat in the garage until we were sure "they" were asleep, slipped under the door, went around to other side of house and crept into a BR window that we had left ajar.

Ah, to awaken on the morning of a great triumph-to-be is certainly exhilarating. One's skin tingles in anticipation of drinking deep of the cup of victory after long months of preparation and training. This was to be our Super Bowl and we were not to be denied. Giant smiles adorned our faces, which even HE took notice of and cocked HIS head trying to decipher the indecipherable. This day was ours and we would conclude it by running victory laps around the block. This would show neighbors that we were once again "in charge" and they need not ever again notify the Emergency Squad of a pending Thanksgiving at the Horan's. Actually, they didn't have to call the ES. The ES just took it upon itself in recent years to schedule a crew to be at the ready out front.

At the anointed hour, we went out the front door taking due note of the freezing temperatures and robust wind. No matter, we dressed in heavy coats and ski masks and announced, " we are going for a walk". Once outside we dashed around to side of garage and found we had left the window locked. Oh well, what's a brick through the garage window compared to the joy of our upcoming triumph? I shimmied in without cutting too many major arteries on the jagged glass, opened the smoker and withdrew the Bird. Placing it on a wooden platter and filling my pockets with nails and a hammer, I returned to the outdoors where Dottie was making a dash for the ladder that we had pre-placed leading to to the roof. As we approached the top of the ladder it occurred to me that the freezing rain adorning the sloping shingles might be a bit of a hazard. No problem. Quickly I helped Dottie to the apex and for safety's sake proceeded to nail all through her coat, fastening her to the roof. Next a nail was driven into the wooden platter affixing it.

Now we were set to dine, as the cranberries, stuffings and other assorted goodies appeared from within our parkas. Glancing out through the driving wind we saw a beautiful sight. The neighbors had started to gather on the sidewalk, silently kneeling as if in some kind of prayerful vigilance. With tears freezing on my cheeks, I arose to wave and acknowledge their confidence in our success, when suddenly there was a ....."CLANK"!

Clank? What the hell was that? We planned no "clank". Turning on an ice covered roof is out of necessity a slow process. Managing to do so in a prompt manner was a credit to my Gazelle-like nature. However this "Gazelle" was rewarded with the sight of a grappling hook fashioned out of three bent barbecue forks duct taped together protruding out of and hooking onto the inner lip of the chimney!

Immediately I did two things: 1) realized that HE had thrown the hook up through the fireplace; and 2) fell off the roof in a manner not at all similar to the grace of a Greg Luganis!

In a daze my eyes perceived the ES was already heading toward me with the gurney, which had been completely preassembled. Not to be distracted by such a minor setback I screamed at Dottie, "Save the Bird!", before realizing that she was pretty much immobilized by the 4" spikes that had been driven through her outer garments. In total bewilderment we saw HIM emerge from within the chimney and leap toward the wooden platter's nearest edge. The force of HIS landing catapulted "the Bird" in the air in a predetermined orbital landing aimed at chimney center, where a pair of white paws was extended, awaiting it's arrival. HE and HIS accomplice then converged simultaneously with "the Bird", planting both sets of teeth. The neighbors started to vomit at the insidious sight, though it should be mentioned many were still able to keep their video cameras running throughout. It took but two head jerks and a couple of large swallows before the felines leapt up, paws extended in a High-Five, shouting "Yes,...and another new record time!"

I'm told I lapsed into a comatose condition and only heard after how they had the Fire Dept., which had also been on the standby parked just out of sight, extract Dottie from the roof where she suffered only 2nd degree frost bite. Of course THEY, after taking THEIR bows toward the assembly below, dashed back down the chimney and proceeded to set a warming fire to ward off the chill from THEIR 1 minute and 17 second journey to the great outdoors.

In the aftermath I contemplate the concept of "Hope". Doug Flutie can throw a Hail Mary and have it caught for a game winning TD with no time remaining. An Iowa woman delivers 7 babies in 6 minutes. What were the odds? Hope is such a wonderful thing. We will begin anew building on Hope. The odds are definitely coming to our favor.

While we Hope for many things, we mainly Hope that all of you enjoy your Thanksgiving and offer Thanks for all of our blessings. In addition I Hope when we arrive back home that we have enough kitty litter.