What follows is a top ten list of things that are "best" about Thanksgiving. If you're not really into Thanksgiving, then kindly pick up your pitch fork and hobble away on your hairy goat-legs. This post is not for you. If you are into Thanksgiving, read on.
1. The Main Course – It’s right there in the name. Main. Adjective meaning "chief in size or importance." Don’t get hung up on the redundancy of the definition, just embrace the soul of it. With apologies to Super Bowl Sunday smorgasbords and the 4th of July cookout, Thanksgiving is the only holiday in which the meal reigns supreme. The whole day is centered around food. You like Turkey? Sweet dreams. Stuffing? Get stuffed. Green bean casserole? The only question you have is why don’t we always put fried crunchy things on top of our veggies?
2. Pie – Probably the champion of desert supersets. Cheesecake might be able to topple pie on its best day, but that’s like picking Kurt Cobain’s unprecedented Unplugged performance over 50 years of consistent goodness from The Rolling Stones. It might also be like picking my analogy over a different one that actually works. Either way, pie is awesome.
3. Wednesday Night – There’s always something cool about seeing that old crush from high school that’s back in town for the holiday. Hit her with a genius, topical zinger like, "You look like you could use some stuffing," or…nope, that line can’t be topped. You’re welcome.
4. Football on TV – This is America. It’s the NFL. I feel like diving any further into this would be like explaining why 2 + 2 = 4.
5. The Turkey Bowl – Everyone does this, right? You pull together an inevitably odd-numbered group of people for some touch football. Usually the teams consist of four bad knees, one dodgy rotator cuff, two hands that couldn’t catch a snail on a salted sidewalk, a guy who doesn’t realize what "just for fun" means, and the little kid who will get trucked by no-fun guy and run inside crying. At least then you have even numbers.
6. The Christmas Prequel – The lights are going up. Family is in town. Target and Macy’s run the exact same "door-busting" commercials in the exact same time slots on the exact same channels with no one noticing. You get a lot of the same vibes at Thanksgiving as you get at Christmas, just with a lot less fanfare. It’s exactly what I’m expecting from The Hobbit.
7. Black Friday – I’ve never gone. But there’s something magical about waking up at 9am and knowing that your loved ones have been up for four hours to ensure they get the best deals on your presents.
8. Macy’s Parade – You always hate the parade. It’s unoriginal and it’s slower than a snail on a salted sidewalk. You hate both of those things. Still, there’s something comforting about the devil you know. So float on by, giant Spidey. Coast along, adorably large Pikachu. Jabber away, Mr. Lauer. The intense boredom is a subtle reminder that we're thankful for the holiday.
9. The Octagon of Thankfulness – I didn’t think this brilliant tradition had been named, so it is now. Usually suggested by the matriarch of the family before eating, everyone at the table says one thing they’re thankful for. Most people hate the awkwardness of being publicly forced to appreciate something. No one wants to seem like the bitter jerk with nothing to be grateful for. You plan to say something like, "I’m really thankful for my friends." But your Uncle Seth — a southern minister by trade — goes before you, launching into a 12-minute soliloquy about the sanctity of life and beating cancer for the third time in as many years, "You realize how sweet the air tastes on an autumn day." Around the eighth minute, you’ve given up. The whole family entered. Only Uncle Seth is leaving.
10. Family – When it’s your turn to speak in the Octagon of Thankfulness, you’ll say "Uncle Seth, after that speech, I’m thankful for microwaves!" Everyone will laugh, and they’ll know what you really meant.