Thanksgiving is my hands down, no-other-within-a-mile, favorite holiday of the year. Here’s why:
1. It’s always a four day weekend. Sleeping in, playing cards, watching the parade. Physical exertion limited to walks to the fridge, like we’re getting ready for hibernation. Let’s tag this as “sloth”.
2. THREE nationally-televised pro football games. So what if it’s the cruddy Detroit Lions and the despised Dallas Cowboys? We’re talkin’ football on a Thursday afternoon! Since three football games back-to-back equates to 9 hours in front of the tube, let’s also categorize this as “sloth”.
3. Mountains of food…tons of different desserts…turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie. The food is easily half the celebration. Throw in drinking before 11am on a weekday and call it all “gluttony”.
4. Thanksgiving has none of the issues that accompany buying/giving/receiving gifts…the responsibility of having to act like you enjoy what you get, the guilt about spending too much or too little on someone…Christmas is a ball of stress on a stick compared to Thanksgiving. I’m not sure which deadly sin this fits in, so I guess that theme hit the wall pretty early.
5. Plenty of family drama – which is always good entertainment – and even better if it’s not your family. Going to someone else’s home for Thanksgiving and seeing the hell they endure is the best vacation you could take from your own problems. Either your host’s family will be absolutely insane and make you feel lucky to only have five quirky people in your life, or they’ll be like Ward & June Cleaver and you’ll experience a functional family holiday for once. Either way you win.
6. Thanksgiving is the toughest holiday for marketing and ad execs to corrupt. There’s not much in the way of fuzzy mascots to pimp their products (Easter), contrived patriotism to jam down our throats (Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day), or religious symbols and evil spirits to worship (Christmas, Halloween). I dig Halloween as much as the next sugar addict, but last I checked, kids eat enough sugar the other 364 days a year so they really don’t need a holiday dedicated to giving them more.
Tangent: Remember when cartoons were only on in the early mornings and Saturdays? Now cable channels air cartoons 24/7. I think it takes a little of the fun out of them if they’re on constantly. The crux being, “how can I miss you if you’re always here?”
7. Thanksgiving lacks the “need to find a date and get dressed up” pressure felt around Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, and also lacks the “send a card and make a phone call” pressure of Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. Less responsibilities, more naps. Score another one for “sloth”.
8. ‘Tis the season for old girlfriends and prospective new ones to come out of the woodwork. As we enter the Thanksgiving to New Year corridor, I think women find reasons to reconnect with old boyfriends and redouble their efforts to find new ones. Theories on why include:
- She’s looking for a date to bring to her upcoming holiday office party. An ex-boyfriend may be just the ticket for a low-commitment, high comfort level party date. This is where it pays to not burn bridges and just await first contact.
- She’s planting a seed for New Year’s Eve, for which she surely has plans in the works by now. No woman wants to be alone on New Year’s. There’s a finality to it that I think they find difficult to endure solo.
- Who’s gonna buy her that killer diamond necklace for Christmas?? Around Thanksgiving it’s not too late to find a guy who falls madly in love and appreciates the hell out of her. It’s getting late in the game for her to be thinking materialistic thoughts, though. She’s gotta move fast or she’ll find herself at the two-minute warning on her own 20 yard line, down 5 points with no timeouts left. (Did I mention they play football on Thanksgiving?)
So all these factors add up to POTENTIAL for fun times (the planning stage), but none of the issues that likely result. Like when you get accepted to college in May but don’t have homework until September…at Thanksgiving you’ve got all of the potential fun of reconnecting with exes, but none of the responsibility or hassles yet. Oh hey – this reason can easily go in the “lust” bin – first one for good ol’ LUST.
9. Thanksgiving is the last rest stop before mid-January. December is just bonkers…a wall-to-wall work/party/shop/wrap torture chamber…the most stressful time of year for both businesses and families, plus it’s COLD outside, which wouldn’t be so bad except that it’s DARK at 4:30pm too, so you’re leaving work to go shopping at the mall when it’s already pitch black…and oh crap there aren’t any parking spots at the mall…and don’t forget all the drunk drivers on the road, numbing their stress before going home to hang with their in-laws who are in town for a few weeks of passive-aggression. After Christmas there’s the whole purge of decorations, trees, and family freeloaders, and detoxifying yourself while gearing up for that New Year’s Eve bash you’re attending; so that week is really no rest at all. I feel lucky just to make it through the holidays in one piece. So enjoy the break before the insanity starts, and score another one for “sloth”.
10. The last reason Thanksgiving is the all-time, ass-kicking-est holiday of the year, is that we all need a moment to chill the hell out and own that these are truly the best of times. Humans have been walking upright for –what– 1.5 million years? And for how many of those years have there been: Antibiotics, refrigeration, air travel, cars, the 40-hour work week, women’s rights, minority rights, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, computers, television, cell phones, breast implants, and video games? Within the last 100 years for all of them. Bottom line: Our ancestors all lived in boobless shit compared to us. They worked viciously hard, played very little, and died young – and the majority of them were in a constant struggle to make ends meet. Only for the last 100 years out of 1.5 million has life improved on hundreds of fronts all at once. So if you consider all the time humans have roamed the Earth, we’re not trying to survive during the 99.99% of the time that life sucked. We’re alive during the 0.01% that life has aspects of fun, leisure time, and disposable income. Not quite the long odds of winning the lottery, but pretty damn fortunate, still.
So make an effort to enjoy the football, family, sleep, and all-you-can-eat buffet disguised as a national holiday. Thanksgiving is that perfect, nearly-stopped moment at the top of the rollercoaster ride where we have a moment to reflect and appreciate how great we have it, before diving headlong into the December abyss.