It’s been almost 20 years since we’ve spent a Thanksgiving in Florida and for a change, I haven’t spent the whole week prior cleaning, planning, shopping, cooking, baking and wearing myself to a frazzle getting ready for the big day.  
    This year my biggest worry about Thanksgiving is where to go out to eat.  That’s a big deal here in this “Age 55 and over” trailer park.  (Notice I’m not being pretentious and calling it a mobile home park, even though that’s what it’s called on the entrance sign.)  
Years ago when we lived here as pre-retired working people, we made fun of all those old-fogie retired snowbirds who called their little metal dwellings with a carport and fake pink flamingo in the front yard “mobile homes.”  So how can I be two-faced about it now that we’re old-fogie retired snowbirds living out the winter in a trailer with a carport and a fake pink flamingo in our front yard?
(Yes, I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but we do have a flamingo!)
Of course, we have to refer to our abode as a mobile home when we’re talking to other residents of the park.  In these circles it’s a mortal sin to even whisper the word “trailer.”
But getting back to Thanksgiving fare, I did offer to make my dearly beloved a home cooked mini turkey dinner for two with all the mini fixins’, but he declined.  Everybody else around here goes out for dinner that day, so we’re obliged to follow suit.  That’s one of the unwritten laws of trailer park living.  You have to do what everybody else does or you’re some kind of weirdo.  (And we do have a few weirdoes living around here, but don’t tell anyone I said that!)
Anyway, here it is a week before the big day and we haven’t decided yet where we are going to sate our hunger-for-turkey pangs.  We considered Cracker Barrel, but can you imagine the crowd of hungry white haired patrons in line ahead of us?  Besides, they’re serving cornbread stuffing with their turkey and I don’t like anything but good old regular bread dressing stuffed in my turkey.
I guess cornbread stuffing is a southern tradition on Thanksgiving, just like black-eyed peas are on New Years Day – and I’m not having any of that, either.  Come January 1st, it’ll be good old northern traditional sauerkraut and spare ribs smelling up this kitchen.
Well, I’m sure we’ll find somewhere to enjoy the old Turk, even if it’s just a turkey club at Steak ‘n Shake.  That’s what we get for forsaking all the kids and grandkids and great grandkids and hightailing it off to Florida to get away from the cold and snow and sleet and slush of winter.  You gotta take the bitter with the sweet – and that’s the bitter.
One thing I’m grateful for by living in a trailer park, and that is the relief of not having to run out and start my Christmas shopping on Gray Thursday.  In case you’ve been living somewhere off the planet earth, I’m sure you’ve heard that Black Friday starts early this year.  A new gimic to get shoppers to start the stampede on Thanksgiving eve instead of waiting until early the next morning.  No more standing in line from 8:00 p.m. until the doors open at 5:00 a.m.  Now you can start standing in line at 5:00 p.m. until the doors open three hours later.  Such a deal!
See, that’s the beauty of 55+ trailer park living.  You gotta do what everyone else does, and that means rolling up the sidewalks at 8:00 p.m. and hitting the sack by nine – which prohibits any Gray Thursday shopping, so we’re safe there.  And that’s the sweet!
And here’s another sweet – one of those easy trailer-park desserts – designed just in case you’re one of the lucky ones having Thanksgiving dinner at home.

PUMPKIN ANGEL FOOD CAKE

1 box angel food cake mix         
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice         
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 cup cold water                   
Move oven rack to lowest position and heat to 350°F. In extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour into ungreased 10-inch angel food (tube) cake pan.  Bake 37 to 47 minutes or until crust is dark golden brown and cracks are dry. Immediately turn pan upside down onto heatproof funnel or glass bottle for about 2 hours or until cake is completely cool. Loosen cake from side of pan with knife or long metal spatula and turn upside down onto serving plate.  Serve with Cool Whip.

APPLE CRANBERRY CRISP
3 cups sliced apples
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup uncooked oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter
Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine apples and cranberries. Spoon into a greased 9” pie pan. In small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small crumbs. Sprinkle over apples. Bake crisp for 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is brown and bubbling around the edges. Makes 4 to 6 servings.