Flashback Friday: Respect the turkey!

Posted on November 11th, 2011

Thanksgiving is the Rodney Dangerfield of holidays.

Seriously. Thanksgiving doesn’t get any respect. First of all, it shares the fall holiday season with Halloween. Call me cynical, but it’s hard to compete with Halloween. Here we have a day when we get to shed our personalities (and sometimes our inhibitions and good sense) by putting on costumes and consuming as much candy as humanly possible.  And the next day, there’s no guilt, no shame. Everybody goes about his or her life as if 95-year old Great Aunt Edna hadn’t dressed up as a naughty nurse the night before or little 7-year old Freddy hadn’t eaten so much candy his stomach had to be pumped.

On the other hand, we have Thanksgiving. And for every article about cooking a turkey, there are twenty about making Thanksgiving dinner only have 500 calories a serving. Hello? Where’s the fun in that? If I wanted to have a 500-calorie turkey dinner, I could do that any day of the week.

And what about the whole dress up thing? Let’s be real. If we dress up as a naughty nurse on Thanksgiving, Great Aunt Edna will call the police and cut us out of her will. I’m not real clear on what Freddy will do, but don’t go looking around if the gravy is missing its giblets or the dressing is missing its cranberries.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Thanksgiving doesn’t even get it’s own décor. It has to share with Halloween. Oh sure, the scary stuff gets put away November 1, but the pumpkins and gourds and scarecrows all stay out. All a person has to do to make it more Thanksgiving-y is add a couple of turkeys, a pilgrim or two, a Native American and voila! The house is set for Turkey Day.

And speaking of décor, what is up with the whole turkey thing? Call me crazy, but there’s something weird about it. At Thanksgiving we see Tom Turkey everywhere. Faux gobblers are on our tables, at our stores, in our yards, on the very dishes we eat from on Thursday. If an alien popped over from say, Mars, he would probably think Thanksgiving was a holiday where we engaged in some pretty serious turkey worship.

And then he’d walk into our homes on Thursday afternoon and find us roasting and eating the very same gobbler. Is it just me or is that just a tad on the sick side? It’s not like we do that with any other holiday. Nobody sticks Santa figures all over their house then roasts up a jolly fat guy on Christmas Day. We’re not melting Frosty the Snowman and using him to make tea. Okay, fine. Yes, we do eat chocolate bunnies at Easter. But nobody is outside barbecuing Peter Rabbit for Easter dinner, right? Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s pretty weird. And it is yet another reason why I am convinced that Thanksgiving doesn’t get the holiday respect it deserves.

Of course, if you are still not convinced, let’s talk about Christmas. The Christmas season officially starts the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, I know Macy’s has their trees up in September, but really, the Christmas season starts the Friday after Turkey Day. And that is why most people haul their overburdened bellies away from the Thanksgiving dinner table, plop themselves on the couch and begin the serious work of planning Friday’s shopping attack. It’s like we can’t wait for Thanksgiving to be over so we can get on with the business of getting to Wal-Mart at 4 AM for half-price TVs.

I’m telling you, it’s sad. Here we have a holiday associated with the first big celebration the pilgrims ever had, and we don’t give it the respect it deserves. I say we stop shoving Thanksgiving aside for Black Friday, Christmas and candy in the shape of vampire teeth. We give it its own décor that it doesn’t have to share with Halloween. We eat real turkey instead of decorating with faux ones. We eat a real dinner—one with 2,00 calories. And we bring the Native Americans and the pilgrims into the new millennium and give them the holiday they deserve.

So on Thanksgiving all of us should indulge in a fat fest and give thanks that those silly pilgrims ever had the courage to cross the Atlantic in the first place. Together, we can bring Thanksgiving back.

And still be up at 4 AM for the Wal-Mart sale. What? Seriously? You think I’d give up a sale like that?

Originally published in California newspapers Thanksgiving 2008

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