Thanksgiving Eve — one of America’s most beloved and convoluted excuses to drink; a time when millions, in realization that they will soon spend untold hours with members of their extended family, drink themselves into a blissful state of liver failure. But, how did this magical day originate? And how best to celebrate it? Read on, ye ole’ binge drinkers.
Thanksgiving Eve, contrary to popular belief, has existed since the very first celebration of Thanksgiving in 1621. As the Plymouth pilgrims sat around a toasty fire on that fateful Wednesday night, they talked of the great feast planned for the next day:
“Say, you got work tomorrow?” wondered one of pilgrims, wearing a particularly stupid hat.
“Nay,” said his friend, deliberately ignoring the fact that he’d signed up for the 9 a.m. Butter Churning shift.
“You thinkin’ what I’m thinking?” inquired the friend, his tri-cornered hat the absolute epitome of all that is ungodly and wretched in the world.
They then cracked open a couple of local-brewed pumpkin-wheat lagers (these were hipster pilgrims) and proceeded to get hammered. A tradition was born.
The practice grew over the following years as more and more “of-age” pilgrims began coming home on Thanksgiving break from their local agricultural colleges. These younger, less puritanical pilgrims were eager for opportunities to reunite with all of their old high school pilgrim friends that they’d talked so much shit about to their new college pilgrim friends. Plus, some of them heard Pocahontas and John Smith had broken up two weeks into college, and they were all like, “Maybe I could be her rebound, dude! She was like the hottest chick in high school!”
Thanksgiving Eve was also a nice opportunity for white colonists and Native Americans to settle their differences over a twelve-pack of Rolling Rock and pulsating house music. “You guys are like sooo cool, you know? It’s like, I don’t know why we didn’t do this earlier… we should totally stop slaughtering you guys!” was a common refrain from 18-year-old, red-faced Pilgrims, overcompensating for the loud music by yelling directly into the face of the nearest Native American in a hoarse, grating voice.
A traditional celebration of Thanksgiving Eve starts with the Gathering of the Long-Lost Friends, in which old high school pals gather together to drink in one of their parent’s basements (a rather disheartening indication that little has changed since high school graduation, but that’s neither here nor there). Pre-game drinks are had by all at an egregiously liberal pace. Old stories are retold with a flair for exaggeration, new stories are shared with an even greater flair for exaggeration, old flames are perhaps rekindled, and everyone reverts to calling your buddy Mike Henderson “Tits Face” again.
After this opening ceremony of sorts comes the Night Out at the Overcrowded Local Bar. Unlike other drinking-related holidays, like New Years Eve or Take Your Daughter to Work Day, no one really throws parties on Thanksgiving Eve — it’s entirely a bar and club holiday. So you can expect your local dive to be packed tighter than a Delhi bus. Even better, it’ll be filled with the very people you go out of your way to avoid the other 364 days of the year. Condescending smiles and passive aggressive half-waves are perennial pastimes as revelers continue over-imbibing and faking nice to all the kids they hated in high school.
Thanksgiving Eve celebrators are commonly stricken with paralyzing torrents of shame and anxiety when faced with these stark reminders of their formative teenage years: the paranoid, creeping fear that one can never truly escape one’s high school/hometown typically leads to consumption of alcohol at an increasingly spirited space. This, in other words, is when shit gets real.
The night typically concludes with a few selections from a series of venerable traditions: the always enjoyable Throwing Up Inside the Purse, the classic Wandering Away from Friends and Passing Out in a Bush, the dramatic Heated Argument with a Friend Over Something That Happened Six Years Ago, the Making Out with a Blurry-Faced Person Who May or May Not be Crying, and the Ravaging of the Wendy’s Number 6 Combo Meal (Lettuce Only). But, no Thanksgiving Eve celebration could ever be complete without the reliable ritual of Forgetting to Close Your Tab and Leaving Your Credit Card at the Bar.
The most polarizing aspect of Thanksgiving Eve has always been the risk of suffering a debilitating hangover on one of the most relaxing and enjoyable days of the year. The last thing you want to deal with while staying at your parents’ house and making small-talk with every member of your extended family is a skull-fracturing headache and farts that smell like paint thinner. It’s a fine line between fully enjoying your Thanksgiving Eve and jeopardizing your ability to partake in demanding Thanksgiving traditions like eating and watching football — a fine line that any experienced Thanksgiving Eve celebrator has regretfully crossed at least once before. Fortunately, we’re not the first ones to deal with these vexing First World Problems. Nay, we are merely the latest in a long line of celebratory drinkers dating back to Plymouth, 1621. In honor of their trail-blazing innovation, I implore you to go out this Thanksgiving Eve.
Just remember to pour a little bit of your 40 out for all those colonial drinkers who ain’t here no more.