Dave Simpson: A TV Dinner For Thanksgiving? Yup.

Columnist Dave Simpson writes: "One year we had TV dinners for Thanksgiving. The kids loved it. They could have whatever they wanted, and they chose macaroni and cheese."

Dave Simpson

November 22, 20224 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Plenty going on lately, so let’s clean off the workbench. Let’s whack some moles. Let’s bop some gophers:

– According to a news story last week, they’re bravely soldiering on in Jackson Hole, doing their best to contend with the crushing burden of great wealth. They’re too darn rich up there – some reports say the richest anywhere – and it’s causing headaches.

Normal people like us can’t do normal stuff like buy a house  in Jackson, because the average house sells for over a million dollars. What’s a snowplow driver, or a bartender, or a cop, or a teacher supposed to do when even fixer uppers are going for seven figures? People who still do actual work can’t afford to live there.

Jackson is a caviar and Patagonia town in a state full of pot roasts and Republican cloth coats. It isn’t even like going to a different state or country anymore. More like going to a different planet.

One person in Jackson told a reporter that the rest of us in Wyoming are nice enough, just kind of “backwards” and “podunk.” Not too quick on the uptake. And of course they elect a lot of Democrats up there, which also sets them apart in Republican Wyoming.

A bartender said it isn’t that Jackson Holians don’t like us, it’s that we don’t like them. Could be, what with their breathtaking scenery, their highfalutin notions, and their California ways.

Used to be, towns where power plants were being built got “impact funds” to help them cope. Kind of hard to justify helping Jackson deal with a glut of millionaires and billionaires.

Let’s just pray for them.

– If the weather doesn’t interfere, we’re going to see the grand kids in Gillette for Thanksgiving.

As Mike Enzi used to say, “I kind of like Gillette.” If you were looking for the polar opposite of Jackson Hole, you’d probably settle on Gillette, a place where you can go to any restaurant in town in your work clothes – maybe even coveralls – and blend right in. It’s a hard-working town with fabulous facilities for the kids. It’s a place where a snowplow driver or a cop or a teacher can probably still buy a house.

A trip to Jackson to see how the other one tenth of one percent lives is exciting. But this grandpa prefers a nuts and bolts Carhart town like Gillette.

– We were about half way to Chicago one year for Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s house when a flat tire and some other concerns combined to make us turn around and spend a last-minute Thanksgiving at home near Peoria.

So we had TV dinners for Thanksgiving. The kids loved it. They could have whatever they wanted, and they chose macaroni and cheese. I had a Swanson Hungry Man TV Dinner, with slices of white meat, a wad of stuffing, corn and a dab of cranberry dessert.

Prep time was negligible. (You can even microwave those rascals.) Cleanup was a breeze.

Often in the summer when I head up to my cabin, I take along a Hungry Man Salisbury Steak TV Dinner for the first night, when there’s too much work settling in to cook. It sticks to your ribs, and the brownie dessert is to die for.

Good stuff. A TV dinner without the TV.

– Don’t look now, but I’m getting reports that renewing your driver’s license in Cheyenne – maybe elsewhere in the state, too – can involve two hours of waiting your turn.

Our son had a two-hour wait two weeks ago, and last week it took my wife four hours to get renewed. (She was able to leave for a while, and  came back when they texted her.) The driver’s license employees are nice about it, but one kept telling people “we’re slammed.”

I can’t remember ever waiting in line for two hours for anything. Surely never in Wyoming. Is this urban creep?

It happens so often in Cheyenne that they have a sign warning about the long wait times.

They have a special day for seniors twice a month, and I’ll report back on how that works out when I renew next month.

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.