A few years back, I was having a chat with my good friend Johnny Carson about the oddities that come up around the Thanksgiving holiday, and he said something I’ll never forget: “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.” Well said, old friend. [I don’t know if you’ve caught my column Johnny, but if you get a chance let me know what you think. I’d love to be able to write for your show. I promise I’m funny. Most importantly, I’m relevant and current.]
1 Cheer: Family Meals
As a commuter I spend endless amounts of time on campus and only venture home around meal time to devour the left-over food my mom leaves out for me. If at any point during my gremlin-like consumption of these meals my dad asks me if I want to join him for dinner, I usually make an inhuman noise, sprint into my room, and lock my door. Thanksgiving brings me back to the old days of gathering around the table and refusing to tell my parents how my day was.
2 Cheers: Butter Sculptures
If this tradition is foreign to anyone I apologize, but this is what I live for. The Thanksgiving dinner spread is always stunning, but my eyes dart to one thing and one thing only: the lamb or turkey shaped butter sculpture at the center of the table. As soon as grace is said, you better believe I’m out of my chair, knife in hand, ceremoniously beheading the butter sculpture. No mom, I will not “grow up.”
3 Cheers: Football
I didn’t want to follow the well-worn path and mention Thanksgiving Day football, but I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t not mention it. This is a day when those in your family who absolutely abhor the very idea of throwing an oddly shaped ball down a muddy field can be seen floundering in front yards and backyards across the country, learning the masterful game of two-hand touch. So here’s to football, and try not to hurt Grandma and Grandpa; it’d be a real shame to live as long as they have only to be bested by an illegal block in the back.
1 Jeer: Family Meals
Yup. The Cheers and Jeers double feature goes to family meals. For every two good moments at the dinner table, there’s always that one bad moment that sets the tone for the rest of the meal. You all know how it goes: Uncle Jimmy drunkenly brings up Aunt Betsy’s alcohol problem, Aunt Betsy picks up the carving knife and ends up slicing up little 5 year old Jacob, and now 30 people squeeze into the emergency room and celebrate Thanksgiving with jello cups and Little Debbie cookies. [Thanks Fred Pienkoski for this Jeer. You keep me young.]
2 Jeers: Leftovers
There’s nothing better than opening up the fridge the morning after Thanksgiving dinner to piles of plump ziplock bags; turkey and stuffing and pie to the left, bread and potatoes and cranberry sauce to the right. But give me two days of leftovers and I never want to see any of that food until next Thanksgiving. I’m not sure it’s worth it anymore to enjoy these foods once a year and then consume them in such a way that leads me to hate them. That’s not how a relationship should work.
3 Jeers: Black Friday Shopping
One of these years I’ll make it to Best Buy just so I can get into an altercation with an over-caffeinated soccer mom over a Nintendo DS 3000 Platinum. Or maybe I’ll camp outside Wal-Mart just so I can spend five times as much money as I normally would on five flat-screen televisions when I only wanted that chic set of bathroom towels. Do yourselves a favor and eat that extra piece of pumpkin pie without being afraid of puking it up in Target. Cleanup in aisle regret.