Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

It tops Christmas. I've been thinking about holidays--and I plan to post a rant about them on Eat Our Brains tomorrow, about how holidays have become a kind of financial and emotional marathon. I supposed for some people, Thanksgiving is a holiday that fills them with apprehension. There are lots of articles about how to cook for Thanksgiving without losing your mind. For me, the cooking part is not a big deal. And once that expectation is removed, Thanksgiving is a holiday of low or no expectations.

Christmas is fraught with expectations. As is Valentines Day, and increasingly, Halloween. But Christmas most of all. They were putting Christmas decorations up in the seasonal aisle of the grocery on November 1. Pulling bags of candy and replacing them with Christmas ornaments and St Nicks. (The seasonal aisle is the aisle of the grocery where in the summer you can find plastic plates and cups, squirt guns and sunblock, in August that is replaced by back to school stuff. At Easter, it's where the Easter baskets and candies are.) November 1 to December 25 is almost two months. Two months to worry about making a clever wreath out of a coat hanger (above) and the $10 gift exchange at work.

When Adam was a teenager and had discovered irony big time, he used to say at every Christmas, 'This is the best Christmas, ever.' It's a line from a thousand Christmas sit com episodes. And it sums up a lot about Christmas (and Hannukah, which is being dragged into the frenzy. Hannukah used to be a minor holiday, you know. But proximity to the consumer extravaganza that is Christmas has inflated it all out of historical proportion.)

Nobody ever says, 'This is the best Thanksgiving, ever.' Thanksgiving doesn't work that way. Thanksgiving is sort of like a Sunday family dinner just made bigger. Thanksgiving is the holiday where people travel the most. More than Christmas because for Christmas you have to schlep all those presents. Thanksgiving, you can just get an over-priced airline ticket and be somewhere. You sit around, eat and talk. People watch TV. There isn't an aisle of the grocery store devoted to Thanksgiving paraphernalia, just a couple of towers of aluminum foil roasting pans and a stack of tacky autumn-themed platters. I worry though. Places like Crate & Barrel are telling me how to do an Eco Friendly Thanksgiving. I have no problems with the concept of eco friendly, but when it's sold to me, I can see the thin wedge of commercialization creeping in. Pretty soon there will be rituals growing up around Thanksgiving. These rituals will involves more than buying a turkey and a can of cranberry sauce. They'll probably involve annoying hostess gifts, or special tableware or something.

But this Thanksgiving I'm going to have an Orphan Thanksgiving. I've invited people who, like me, are relatively new to Austin. We'll eat, sit around, watch TV. It will be low key. It will be great.


Blogger Responsible Artist said...

Our poor son flew out for Thanksgiving his first year away. The flights were delayed and canceled and overbooked and he ended up arriving long after everyone had finished eating. Then he went back after a day and we all wondered why we'd put him through that. The worst Thanksgiving ever?

November 13, 2007 1:34 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

This year the Biltmore Estate started throwing up Christmas decorations before Halloween hit. Out of control.

Unfortunately, with my mother expectations are just as unreasonably high with Thanksgiving as they are with Christmas. We will have FUN, GODDAMMIT! Or something to that effect.

Just give me a day off. That's holiday enough for me.

November 13, 2007 7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting - I don't equate Thanksgivnig and Christmas as equal holidays. Christmas is a religous holiday for Christians. THanksgiving is a secular holiday for Americans. I know people who are here with a green card that get aggravated that all the stores, banks, post offices, etc., are closed on a Thursday. I guess you can't please everyone. This year Thanksgiving will entail Steve's family and mine in one increasingly smaller house. Steve's family and mine couldn't be more opposite, especially politically. It makes for a very uncomfortable dinner. I usually have 2 dinners or we go to Steve's dad's then I have my family, but this year I have too work so much that it was just better to have 1 dinner with everyone here. But now we're back to not being able to talk about pretty much anything without aggravated disgust from one side or the other with Steve, his sister and I just trying to get through it. I like Katie. She's someone I'd like to get to know better, but we only see her a couple times a year.

Christmas, on the other hand, is one holiday where we have my very favorite tradition. Steve and I get together a few weeks before with a few other couples, have a magnificent brunch, drive out to Ashtabula county and chop down the perfect Christmas trees. No expectations, just fun.

Maybe I'm worrying too much about Thanksgiving. After all, my brother has been missing for 2 weeks and my mom threatened to kill me yesterday. Maybe it'll just end up being Steve's family. I can go back to being the only one in the room who sits quietly in the corner with a different point of view. -Michelle

November 15, 2007 8:51 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I wish I were an orphan in Austin...

November 17, 2007 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nov 1st? The Walgreens & other stores were putting up Xmas around here on Oct 25. I don't mind when the craft & fabric stores get the winter holiday supplies out early, the crafters need seasonal stuff early. Or even if a dept. store starts setting up the corner where they're going to sell the Xmas decor stuff kinda early. But I don't wanna hear Xmas carols in Nov, or see red & green before Thanksgiving!! I really don't like Xmas stuff starting the day after Thanksgiving. I'm so fed up with doing holidays Before they happen & then whisking it away for the next one. I'm thinking we ought to to bring back Advent! I don't want to have Xmas parties in the beginning of Dec. I want to enjoy the leftovers, d@mmit, and enjoy the decorations for a little while after I went to all the trouble of getting them up there! No wonder we're all feeling so rushed!

Mary Piero Carey

November 17, 2007 12:56 PM  
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March 24, 2009 2:45 AM  

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