News of the Week: Mall Santas, Saturday Morning Cartoons, and What to Do with Those Leftovers

In the news for Thanksgiving week 2020 are protections for Santa, words of the year, the future of Jeopardy!, recipes for leftovers, and more.

1920s image of a man eating a large turkey leg while a woman looks at him disapprovingly
Everett Collection / Shutterstock

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All I Want for Christmas

We all know how the pandemic has changed the big things in life — we hear about it on the news every single day — but it has changed the little things too. The way we walk around the supermarket, the way we pick up takeout food, the sudden obsession with obtaining Lysol wipes. Hey, if you see any at the store, grab as many as you can!

We just saw how the pandemic affected Thanksgiving, with most of us staying home instead of traveling, keeping our celebrations as small as possible, speaking to family members and friends on the phone or via Zoom (though millions didn’t). The same thing is going to happen for Christmas. Here’s another little thing that has changed, and I bet you didn’t think about it until this week: With social distancing rules, even mall Santas have to change the way they hear what kids want for gifts this year.

Malls have banned lap-sitting, of course, but they’re coming up with creative ways to keep things as festive as they can. Some malls will have Santa waving from a distance, some will have him behind plastic dividers, and some are having kids meet Santa by appointment only. Some Santas will wear face shields, and hand sanitizer will be available everywhere, of course.

It’s also the perfect stocking-stuffer.

Word(s) of the Year

The pandemic has even affected word choices. Specifically, Oxford Language’s Word of the Year. They didn’t choose just one word for their word of the year like they usually do, they chose several words, emphasizing how the pandemic has changed our language. Some of the words and phrases include coronavirus, remote, and flatten the curve.

Oxford does highlight other words for the year, including doomscrolling, which is a new word but already rather overused.

Jeopardy! Update

The producers of the syndicated game show won’t announce who will replace Alex Trebek as host until next year, but they do have a plan in the meantime.

The show is going to have a mix of hosts after Trebek’s episodes end in January. The first guest host will be all-time champion Ken Jennings (of course). Jennings will start taping his episodes this Monday, and they will start airing the week of January 11. Trebek’s last episode will air the week before that.

The show producers originally planned to have Trebek’s last episode run on Christmas Day but decided to push it back to January because of possible holiday interruptions. Instead the show will air a “Best of Trebek” marathon at the end of the year.

Saturday Morning Cartoons Are Back

One of the saddest developments in recent TV history is the disappearance of cartoons on Saturday mornings. One of my fondest memories is getting up early on Saturdays, making myself breakfast (toast and tea), and making sure I was in front of my television by 7 a.m. But the networks got away from that several years ago, instead going to educational programming, pet shows, and even news (kids love the news on Saturday mornings). Sure, there’s Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network and streaming, but it’s not the same.

MeTV remembers those days too, and they’re bringing back Saturday morning cartoons in January. The three-hour show will be fittingly called Saturday Morning Cartoons and will feature all of the Warner Bros. cartoons, Tom & Jerry, and the original Popeye shorts.

As if that wasn’t enough cartoon goodness, the network will also have a one-hour weekday morning show titled Toon In with Me. Not only will it feature cartoons, but it will actually be hosted by actual humans, who will introduce the cartoons and participate in sketches and games and conduct interviews. Sounds like a throwback to kids shows of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, something like Boomtown, Captain Kangaroo, or Major Mudd, the shows I loved.

RIP David Dinkins, Herbert F. Solow, Sandy Dvore, George Cockcroft, Charlie Hauck, Dena Dietrich, and Kenny Sheehan

David Dinkins was the mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1993. He died Monday at the age of 93.

Herbert F. Solow was not only the Desilu Studios production head responsible for getting Star Trek on the air, he was an important voice on the creative end, coming up with the ideas for Starfleet, the Captain’s Logs, even the way Spock looked. Solow also had a hand in producing shows like Mission: Impossible, Mannix, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and The Man from Atlantis. He died last week at the age of 89.

How’s this for a résumé? Sandy Dvore not only created the iconic title logos for shows like The Young and the Restless, The Waltons, The Partridge Family, and Knot’s Landing, he also designed ads and album art for people like Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Sammy Davis Jr.; created a new logo for United Artists; and designed the logo for Solo plastic cups. He even chose the red color! Dvore died last week at the age of 86.

George Cockcroft — under the name Luke Rhinehart — wrote the classic 1971 novel The Dice Man, in which a man makes all of his decisions about life based on the roll of the dice. He also wrote 10 other novels. He died earlier this month at the age of 87.

Charlie Hauck created the sitcom Valerie and co-created The Associates. He also wrote for several other shows, including Maude, Home Improvement, Frasier, M*A*S*H, and One Day at a Time. He died Saturday at the age of 79.

Dena Dietrich was an actress who appeared in dozens of TV shows, movies, and plays but is probably best known for the many years she starred as Mother Nature in a series of Chiffon margarine commercials (“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”). She died Saturday at the age of 91.

Kenny Sheehan was one half of the Pat & Kenny comedy duo on The Late Show with David Letterman. He died last week at the age of 66.

This Week in History

“Who Shot J.R.?” Shooter Revealed (November 21, 1980)

It’s hard to explain what a big deal this was at the time, when there weren’t too many cliffhangers on TV and we didn’t have the internet to drive theories and rumors (today the hashtag would be #WhoShotJR). Fans still tried to figure out who shot J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) in the previous season’s finale, even if they couldn’t really figure it out. Bets were even made internationally, and the show garnered tons of attention and ratings. The episode, “Who Done It?,” was the highest-rated episode in TV history at the time, holding the record until the M*A*S*H finale in 1983.

I don’t want to spoil anything for you, even though it was 40 years ago, so click here to see who the culprit was.

Oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade Debuts in Philadelphia (November 25, 1920)

Or did it?

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Turkey Truck Has Flat (November 24, 1962)

A truck full of turkeys has a flat.
“Turkey Truck Has Flat”
Jan Balet
November 24, 1962

Five minutes later, Jerry was knocked out by a turkey, who had placed debris in the road to stop the truck so he could free his turkey friends. It’s known today as “The Great Turkey Escape of 1962.”


So what do you have in your fridge today? I bet you have a lot of food in clear plastic containers or on plates covered in aluminum foil, even if you did stay home this year. You could make turkey sandwiches (like the Moist Maker!), or you could try one of these creative dishes.

Have leftover turkey? Try this Pot Pie Soup from Jessica Gavin. Still have some cranberry sauce? Try these Cranberry Meatballs from Delish. Mashed potatoes? You need to make some Fried Mashed Potato Balls, also from Delish. And if you have a little bit of everything, try this Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole from AllRecipes. It has turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, and cheddar cheese.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Advent Begins (November 29)

It ends on December 24.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting (December 2)

It will look better than it did when it arrived in New York City last week after it’s all decorated and lit up on NBC starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Featured image: Everett Collection / Shutterstock

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  1. Love that opening picture, Bob. I’m pretty good at pinpointing what year something’s from, and am guessing 1931-’33. It was nice having a solitude Thanksgiving. Had a foot long turkey/bacon/avocado sandwich on Italian bread from the Subway and Greek Gods yogurt for dessert. No cranberry sauce or stuffing (I know). No awkward drama around the Thanksgiving table either, thank you very much!

    I hadn’t heard of the word ‘doomscrolling’ before, at all. I was surprised not to see ‘super spreader’ as one of the new words of the year. What a drag it is being younger. Well, at least the kids will have Saturday morning cartoons again fairly soon. I get MeTV and Cozi, but not Decades anymore. Apparently Decades had a ‘Barnaby Jones’ marathon last weekend. Fortunately I bought the whole series on DVD back in 2009.

    I didn’t need to click on the link to know it was Kristen (Mary Crosby) who shot J.R. I’m a major ‘Dallas’ fan, and ‘Falcon Crest’. They were great new and still are for the same reasons, but now there are the enjoyable aspects of a time long ago; not even remotely like the present.

    I love the 1962 Thanksgiving cover. One of the final illustrated/situation covers of the ’60s, I believe. Speaking of Post covers, earlier this evening (pre-curfew of course) I saw a blow-up Christmas lawn decoration of Santa popping in and out of a miniature Airstream, not too unlike the beautiful Nov./Dec. 2020 cover. I had to do a u-turn and get pictures of it—-front and back.


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