For the holiday dinner table: a handful of local conversation topics

Rockwell Thanksgiving.jpg

Because you can only talk about how "moist" the bird is for so long...

Some of you will spend Thanksgiving in a Norman Rockwell-esque tableau, basking in the warmth of family and friends, and taking advantage of the holiday to enjoy each other's company, reminiscing about holidays past, and catching up on what's new in each other's lives.

For others, though, no matter how much you may love your family, holiday get togethers can sometimes be an exercise in awkward silence, discussions of the moistness of the bird, whether you "made good time" on the road. Worse yet, they can devolve into holiday hits such as: "Why aren't you married yet?" "When am I going to get grandchildren?" and "Now, is that a real job, dear?"

So this year, we've pulled together a handful of local holiday conversation starters/savers with the hope they can help you avoid religion, politics, marriage, grandchildren, and other festive holiday land mines.

Got others you rely on? It's the season for sharing.

Current events

These are good if you're not too worried about getting into arguments about politics. (Or, if you want to get into arguments about politics.)

+ Albany just elected its first new mayor in 20 years. And she's urging people to think big -- like, enormous Ferris wheel big.

+ There's a new proposal for an Albany Convention Center. And there's all that talk about building an aquarium.

+ The GlobalFoundries chip fab in Malta could end up making chips for the iPhone and iPad. And GloFo might end up building a second zillion dollar fab in Saratoga County.

+ That Andrew Cuomo is a sexy man. Or so we hear.

Food and drink

crisp cannoli apple cider crodo
And if you show up with some of these, even better...

An appropriate topic, considering everyone's gathered together to eat.

+ A projected recently resurrected a 100-year-old recipe for Albany Ale.

+ Hard cider is making a comeback in New York. And there's a new startup cidery in North Albany.

+ Cronuts! Or crodos! Or whatever you call them! A bakery in East Greenbush has been making them -- and they even made an apple cider donut crodo.

+ It's egg nog season, so here are some results from a local egg nog taste test a bunch of years ago. Warning: Depending on how seriously your family takes the nog, this could be a smooth, delicious holiday land mine disguised with a dash of nutmeg. Approach delicately.

+ Did you ever notice the mayor on your oatmeal?

+ If you have people in from out of town, maybe you can talk about some of the good stuff you're going to take them to eat while they're in the Capital Region.

Holiday shopping

+ If you're looking for something to bond over through shared indignation, there's the fact that a bunch of retail stores will be opening on Thanksgiving -- which a majority of people say shouldn't happen.

+ What really goes on in fitting rooms. You'll have to first gauge how the crowd will respond to poop stories before bringing this up.

Capital Region holiday tales

+ Yes, Virginia of Valatie, there is a Santa Claus: Yes, that Virginia -- who wrote the letter to the New York Sun about that was answered by editor Francis Pharcellus Church -- lived for quite a while in nearby Columbia County. There is even film of her reading the famous editorial answer to her letter to a group of area school children.

+ T'was the night before Christmas: The poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" was first published in a Troy newspaper, but there's a controversy over who actually wrote it. (Incidentally, it's way better to rehash that controversy than the one about which sister stole who's boyfriend in 1998.)

+ The first Christmas card: Something else they might not know: The first Christmas card was printed in Albany and the first Santa ad was seen here.


These might even elicit some new stories from the older members of the family.

+ The future of Hoffman's Playland is kind of up in the air because the owners want to retire. People probably have a lot of fond memories of the place.

+ Retail has returned to Troy's Frear Building If you've got some older relatives from the Collar City, ask them about what Frear's -- and the rest of downtown Troy-- used to be like. Maybe you already know, but they'll have fun telling you.

+ The Capital Region once had a really robust trolley system.

+ It's true: rolled toilet paper was probably invented in Albany. Let us all give thanks. (Again, you'll have to gauge the crowd for poop stories.)


owney stamp

When all else fails, there are dogs. Owney the Postal Dog is one of our all-time favorite Albany stories. He even had his own stamps.


I am the youngest girl from a family of five girls.
This has been a dysfunctional Thanksgiving.
The morning started with an argument over if i had seen a yellow piece of paper with trash asignments. "Maybe you threw it away?"
The oldest sister called from Az to lecture me about not worrying about my sister ,who just got out of the hospital.
Not to ask third sister so many questions.
Sister who lives on Fifth Ave, and the Village in NYC hardly ever return a phone call.
My luchen koogle (noodle pudding) never jelled tonight, and i dropped a container of soup.
Happy Thanksgivingukah To All!

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