I have long been a champion of Thanksgiving. And yes, Thanksgiving needs a champion. Sure, back in the day Thanksgiving had its moment of glory, but in the last decade or two it’s been gobbled up by Christmas.
For many people, Thanksgiving is now a road bump on the holiday frenzy tour.
Which is fine. You do you and all that. But I’ll remain stalwart in bestowing Thanksgiving the honor of being the November VIP. I will admit each year it gets harder to do this. In terms of sheer time management, it makes sense to get your Christmas decorations up in November before the December crazy hits.
Plus, you get to enjoy the labors of all your hard work longer. As for retail stores: Who can blame them for wanting to cajole us into spending money on holiday shopping as early as possible?
Although, most stores’ holiday decor needs a refresh. Tired artificial Christmas trees festooned with ornaments so dusty you could write ho, ho, ho, on them doesn’t exactly shout “deck the halls.”
But every year as I fight the pull to give in to an “early Christmas” I remember the wonders of Thanksgiving, and so far that’s been enough to keep me from lugging my 28 bins of holiday decorations out of the basement on Nov. 1. Wonder number one of Thanksgiving is that it’s a 100% food centered celebration, which means unlike Christmas, there’s no present pressure. Because who among us hasn’t had their Christmas Day marred by the specter of present pouting.
Present pouting can show up in various forms, from the child who’s disappointed in his Christmas haul (usually easily handled by some stern parental side-eye) to the haunting awkward silence created on Dec. 25, 1990, when you mother-in-law gifted you both the Betty Crocker “Eat and Lose Weight“ cookbook and “Choose to Lose: A Food Lover’s Guide to Permanent Weight Loss.” (Yep, 32 years later and still not over it.)
Another win for Thanksgiving is that it doesn’t linger. You’re in and you’re out. There’s no pressure or guilt trip to show up for Thanksgiving eve. There’s no Thanksgiving morning brunch before the main event. You’re one meal and done.
It’s even acceptable to leave a couple of hours after eating on Thanksgiving Day as long as the kitchen is clean. This provides you an escape plan to dodge tipsy relatives, the mansplaining brother and the competitive cousin who likes to turn the family post turkey “what are you thankful for” question into an epic humble brag.
Thanksgiving also gives you the gift of many football games. It’s usually perfectly acceptable for the cornucopia of college and pro football games being offered up by the TV gods to take precedence over any other activity, including what time the turkey will be carved. This creates a safe space for you to hide in plain sight from family members. A football game provides everything from talking points to use in conversing with your aunt-in-law to an excuse to zone out on the couch and not be seen as rude as long as you intermittently shout at the TV that the “ref’s an idiot.”
All this and more is why I give thanks with a grateful heart for the last Thursday in November. It brings me so much — from a sweet potato casserole (that years later I discovered was actually made with canned yams ... frankly, I’m still processing the recipe deceit) —to quality family time where, unlike Christmas, an early exit strategy isn’t frowned upon.
Reach Sherry Kuehl at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs on Instagram @snarky.in.the.suburbs, and snarkyinthesuburbs.com.