I am not quite the religious scholar that I frequently pretend to be. Kind of like my knowledge of the Twilight series, I know the major characters and have a thumbnail understanding of the plot but some of the subtle nuance escapes me. Unfortunately, my having a small amount of knowledge prevents me from completely keeping my mouth shut when asked the more complex questions about religious dogma. The resulting open mouth awe at my utter stupidity does lead to some socially uncomfortable situations. For example the other day, I was having a fascinating conversation about sin, when my intellectual opponent challenged me to list the Seven Deadly Sins. Apparently, wearing white after Labor Day is not one of them and neither are Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy and Doc. Personally I am not so quick to discount Sneezy from the list because there is something inherently evil in his red nose and bloodshot eyes, but I digress. My opponent in this intellectual game of tiddlywinks pointed out that the actual Seven Deadly Sins are: Lust, Greed, Envy, Pride, Anger, Gluttony and Sloth. Now the first six, I am not so sure of but I can’t argue with the last. I hate sloths. I will not tolerate any animal that spends that much time upside down. So you better watch your ass, opossums.
What? It means laziness? Darn you public school education. You let me down again. Let’s see. Where was I? Oh yes. Laziness, Lust, Greed, Envy, Pride, Anger and Gluttony. Or as we like to call them….the seven steps to a Happy Thanksgiving. Now I love my family and it is amazing how well we can behave when we go out together. But it seems that we always get mistreated when we do. Oh so sorry Waitress from Denny’s that we weren’t as classy as your normal clientele. O.k., everybody knows I just added that last line as hyperbole because we all know that the ability to use the word “clientele” in a sentence automatically disqualifies you from employment at Denny’s. Even our recent pilgrimage to P.F. Chang’s was a bit of a challenge. Now don’t get me wrong, Chang’s is a fine establishment but I did have a few issues with the meal. First of all, and I don’t mean to be culturally insensitive here, but it’s hard to view the food as authentic when there is not one single employee of Asian descent anywhere in the restaurant. I am not saying that they should hire people solely based on ethnicity but there should not be more Asian-Americans at the Orange Tree in the mall than there are at the place that serves Mandarin Duck. My only other complaint is in the food. No, it tastes fine but the portions were just a wee bit small for our liking. I understand that due to the cost of duck and beef that the entrees’ size may need to be limited, but rice? Was there some sudden change in food costs that makes rice super expensive? Last time I looked, you could get a 50 pound bag of the stuff for like $1.79 and yet it was treated like some rare luxury at our dinner Sunday night. There was more rice in the cuffs of my pants on my wedding day than there were on our table that seated 6 people. I guess the lesson learned is that our family should just stick to gathering for meals at our homes and not restaurants.
And everyone knows that the best meal to gather as a family and eat is Thanksgiving. I love Turkey Day. It is truly the greatest confluence of the things I love in one gravy covered bowl. Let’s look at the basic elements and why they are, as the Chief Massasoit called them, ”Freakin Awesome”.
I think turkey is the greatest of all barnyard animals. It’s slow and stupid and easy to catch, and unlike the name for the male of the chicken variety, it’s impossible to turn its name into a sexual double entendre. This last point is especially important in our family since most of the men cuss like sailors because they were all at one time…sailors. It is also a superior meat to be the focus of a holiday due to the pure size of it. It’s not like everybody keeps 3 or 4 turkeys in the freezer for any random week night dinner. The fact is that I am not even sure if you can buy a turkey outside the month of November. I also have a special place in my heart and on my plate for turkey due to turkey’s prominence in one of Benjamin Franklin’s greatest public defeats. It is a little known historical fact that Benjamin Franklin was a staunch advocate of naming the turkey as our national bird. He had some beef with the Bald Eagle and said its character was not worthy of being our national bird. Now the turkey is a fine animal but I don’t think your national bird should be one that can drown itself because it lacks the intelligence to shut its mouth when it rains. Another little known historical fact: I hate Benjamin Franklin. Always have and always will. And the fact that the turkey is an example of Mr. Franklin being publicly embarrassed is all the more reason for me to love it. It also explains my complete hatred for the pot bellied stove, bifocals and the public library system and why I refuse to own any coin published by those fools at the Franklin Mint.
Best part about Thanksgiving presents? There ain’t none. No shopping. No wrapping. No “I wonder if this will fit”. Cook a meal. Eat a meal. Take a nap. Now that’s a great holiday.
Now, as a general rule I am not that huge a fan of parades. Oh goody, another high school marching band murdering the hits of John Philip Sousa is not exactly riveting entertainment. I guess the thing about parades that makes them so boring is they are a form of entertainment that is completely devoid of risk. I like to be entertained by something that could go unbelievably wrong at any moment and may result in injury or even more preferable, abject humiliation. And you don’t get more bang for your buck in the risk department than with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. It all seems so wholesome. It comes on television at 10 a.m. on the day when everyone is home, so there is nothing risky about that right? Wrong. Even the introduction is a gamble. The intro is the most dishonest two minutes of television history. The silky smooth baritone of the voice over guy announces ever celebrity’s name like it’s the second coming of Laurence Olivier performing Hamlet. I love how he sums up all of the gravitas that he can muster to introduce a reunion of the cast of Perfect Strangers or actor who played Skippy on Family Ties. I also thoroughly admire his professionalism as he feigns enthusiasm as he introduces every has-been actor and no-longer cute enough to be on Disney Channel ingénue that will be featured for a grand total of 18 seconds sandwiched between the next four hours of bad lip-synced performances and performing proofs that Broadway is dead. I also love the way they haphazardly assign the celebrities to the various floats they will be riding on. At our house we like to turn it into a great drinking game. You take one shot for a mildly awkward pairing and two shots for a completely bizarre parade match. “Oh my lord! Did they just say that next up is the Teletubbies float featuring the cast of 50 Shades of Gray? Somebody hand me the bottle.”
And for pure unadulterated danger, nothing beats giant inflatable cartoon characters being controlled what by looks like the cast of Degrassi. I just love how no one finds it reckless that they take these gigantic animated versions of the Hindenberg and try to maneuver then down one of the busiest streets in the United States. Even better yet, remember what happened when Snoopy collided with a building a couple of years ago and the chunks of concrete that fell off and killed someone. The response was that the following year they put guidelines in that only certain balloons could be flown if the winds were more than 25 miles per hour. 25 m.p.h.? The school zone in my neighborhood is only 15. Maybe no one has realized the danger of gas filled balloons in an urban parade. Apparently they never saw the end of the first Batman movie.
Most of all I love the pure aw shucks awesomeness of the entertainment that the Macy’s parade provides. It is like entertainment paella, lots of really weird ingredients that combine to make something utterly delicious. There is the joy of watching marching band after marching band stroll by and know that everyone of them probably go to a better high school than you went to. There is that complete train wreck of the coverage by the cast of the Today show and the belief that at any moment Ann Curry may show up and deal out some morning show justice. There is the slight feeling of sadness every time that Al Roker is on the screen. Boy I sure do miss the fat Al Roker but at least I now know that no matter how much weight you lose that your head stays the exact same size. Most of all, there is the magic, even at my age, of the appearance of Santa and the ushering in of the best time of year. Christmas still has some magic left in it and it gives me an excuse to be nice without the usual sarcasm I employ to protect my ego. Most of all, I know that the parade must be awesome, or else how could they keep using it to fool people into watching the dog show that comes on after it and think that is entertainment.
Thanksgiving without football would be just sad and pathetic. And we already have a holiday that is sad and pathetic, we call it my birthday. I love football and no amount of tryptophan can take the luster off these feelings. No I am not talking about the NFL triple header that fills the t.v. screen but rather the game of sand lot football that breaks out each Thanksgiving Day with out fail. It always starts out as a relaxed and friendly game of catch but soon evolves into final act from The Longest Yard. It’s good to get out in the cool air and engage in some healthy competition with the people you love, but why when we start the game up do I always end up covering my 18 year old varsity football playing nephew. He ends up being more open than a 7-11. After I fake my umpteenth asthma attack of the game I finally get someone else with that special “it” to cover him…yeah it’s called athletic ability. That’s when I get to settle in for the position that I was born to play, head hunting middle linebacker. I don’t care who are. If you are going to run a crossing route across the middle, get ready for some pain. “Jeesh Grandma! Stop you whining! I will buy you another cane.” Ultimately the game winds down so that means its time for our other physical activity, eating.
Thanksgiving is above all, the ultimate American holiday. It involves family, food and fun. It is a holiday that at its center is about being grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and that particular thing that made our country what it is today, having the Indians help us survive and then stealing their land.
So Happy Thanksgiving everyone…………………………………..everyone but the sloths.