Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. It's not nearly as great as Christmas or New Year's. Labor Day is awesome, because it's the start of football season. Easter is cool, because it marks the end of my Lenten fast (plus there's that whole resurrection-of-Jesus-Christ thing). Halloween used to be way cool until it became an adult holiday and gave grown people the opportunity to dress like pimps or hos.
I kinda like the Fourth of July, because we get to celebrate our national badass-ness (or is it badass-iosity?). Plus, it's around the Fourth that the days start getting shorter. Unofficially, the summer solstice (on or about June 21) is supposed to be the longest day of the year, but in these parts, the sun continues to rise at an ungodly hour (before 5:20 a.m.) for another couple of weeks. Something really sinister happens about a week after the solstice: The sun starts rising a minute or so later, but it also sets a minute later.
That's Kafka-esque. By the Fourth of July, the days are getting shorter by more than 30 seconds per day as we careen toward the start of football.
As for Thanksgiving ... blah! First off, the food sucks. It's all bland and Caucasian, no matter who cooks it. I have to douse the stuffing with jalapeño juice just so I don't think that I've mistakenly starting chewing on carpet. Turkey is like the Fox News of meats—way too white, with nothing substantial to offer. Mashed potatoes are OK in small doses, but gravy makes me long for salsa and/or spaghetti sauce. Cranberries are a communist conspiracy. (People used to think that it was fluoride in the water, but it's definitely the cranberry, in its various forms.) I don't like pie, and I don't like pumpkin pie—squared!
When I was a kid, my mom would make lasagna on Thanksgiving and again on Christmas. That's it—twice a year; it's all we could afford. All of my friends would find excuses to stop by on Thanksgiving, thereby resulting in considerably less for me. My favorite Thanksgiving as an adult was when my daughter came home from Cornell and requested four straight days of nothing but Mexican food.
Other things I don't like about Thanksgiving:
• It means that the Christmas season is at least half over. It used to mark the start of the Christmas season, but nowadays, marketing has gone insane. I think Costco put the fake Christmas trees on display on the first day the temperature dipped below 100 degrees, sometime in late September or early October.
• The Dallas Cowboys get a home game every Thanksgiving. It's so ridiculously unfair. The players and coaches get to be at home with their families, plus the team gets a home game and then 10 days off before their next game—a huge benefit this time of the season.
• I used to dread Thanksgiving because it was the day before Black Friday. I had to go stand in line at 3 a.m. to buy something that I would have gladly paid an extra 20 percent for if I could have stayed in bed. Of course, this year, Thanksgiving is Black Friday, with some stores opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. That sucks. I think I'll do Small Business Saturday this year.
On the plus side, this is the earliest that Thanksgiving can be; next year, on Nov. 28, it will be the latest it can be. For a long time, it was always on the last Thursday of November. But in 1941, after a suggestion by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Congress passed a law making it a national holiday and designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving.
(FDR actually suggested it in 1939, when Thanksgiving would fall on the 30th. He wanted to basically add a week to the Christmas-shopping season to help boost the economy, but Congress didn't act until two years later, when it didn't matter. Plus, a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving in 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the U.S. economy got a huge, unwanted boost.)
By far, the best Thanksgiving song of all time is Stan Freberg's satirical masterpiece, "Pilgrim's Progress (Take an Indian to Lunch)," from his United States of America album. More than 50 years after its release, it remains a work of absolute genius:
Show him we're as liberal as can be
Let him know he's almost as good as we.
Do yourself a BIG favor, and call up "Take an Indian to Lunch" on YouTube. Somebody put it on with some visuals that are weird in a Ted Kaczynski kind of way. Close your eyes, and listen to the lyrics, and then tell me that it's not brilliant.
Still, it's Thanksgiving, and we all have a lot to be thankful for. For one thing, I'm really thankful that I live in a country where we can have political campaigns full of spirited speeches and lively debates. And when it's all over, the people who supported the losing candidate just shrug and go about their business, and nobody does anything stupid or petty like circulate petitions suggesting that their home state should secede from the Union.
Oh, yeah, wait ...