Thanksgiving is a holiday replete with traditions, some nationally recognized and some merely unique to different families. Traditions, however, are like assholes sometimes—everybody’s got one, and that’s no reason not to call them stupid. Here’s a short list of Thanksgiving traditions that—for the sake of us all—must be stopped.
Gratitude circles happen like this: everybody joins hands in a circle and, one by one, each person explains what they are grateful for. It’s a warm, fuzzy idea, but since when does Thanksgiving have to be conducted like the end of an AA meeting? Gratitude circles sound like something only Mormons and recovering addicts would truly enjoy. There’s an uneasy forcefulness to the whole process that makes you feel like you’re either somehow apologizing for something or the whole family is getting ready to do battle with the Clan Macleod.
Gratitude circles are a useless formality because, is anybody ever truly honest about what they’re really grateful for? Everybody confines themselves to generalities when it’s their turn because ‘I’m grateful everybody could be here and that I’m in good health’ sounds a lot better and less disruptive than “I’m grateful that new weed they got doesn’t show up on piss tests.”
Baking the Turkey
Tell us which of these two scenarios you think sounds like more fun:
A) Sit around and watch football in between lying to your grandma about how you have a living, breathing girlfriend while the turkey slowly, uneventfully, unseeingly bakes in the oven; or
B) Stand around a bubbling cauldron of peanut oil and watch the turkey (and possibly any flammable structure too close to the action) go up in flames as it’s dropped into a pot like a Carthaginian sacrifice.
Uh huh, thought so. A baked turkey is boring, and frankly, un-American if you think about it. Just look at the waistlines next time you go to a Wal-Mart or visit a county fair. Americans prefer fried to baked in all culinary matters. Time to drag Thanksgiving into the 21st century with some good old fashioned grease fire. Man up and fry that bird. It’s already dead—no need to worry about losing parts of your soul like when you boil a lobster.
Watching football invariably gets everyone aroused for a friendly game of two-hand touch. Except the problem is, these games rarely stay friendly. Football is truth serum disguised as sport, and it lights a match to all the pointless intra-family rivalries and feuds otherwise squashed by good food and holy shit the Lions suck.
People inevitably get pissed off for a variety of reasons over touch football, either because they didn’t get picked first, or because one side takes it too seriously, or because one guy always temporarily forgets about the ‘no leveling of the opponent’ agreement. It unfolds almost exactly like recess back in elementary school, even to the point where there’s usually not enough players, meaning the artsy and un-athletic cousins get drafted into doing the grunt work—blocking, going long on every play, and covering the one girl receiver.
Just the fact that they decided to put the word black in front of it with a capital B should tip you off, like the Black Plague, or Black Tar Heroin. But wait a minute, Black Friday isn’t part of Thanksgiving! Hogwash. Ask anybody what five things come to mind when they think of Thanksgiving. Black Friday has to be at least one of them. That qualifies it as a tradition. Black Friday is as much a part of Thanksgiving as stuffing and gravy, except neither of those things gets people trampled to death.
People say it’s the discounts that keep them waking up and standing line at four in the morning, completely ignoring the fact that there’s this lovely little invention called the internet, where a person can shop online and find almost the exact same prices for Cabbage Patch Kid dolls or whatever the young folk are into these days.
The Modern Version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The first incarnation of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as it turns out, was way more badass than the one you see now. Back in 1924, they ‘paraded’ live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo through the streets of Manhattan instead of giant balloons. No footage exists of how exactly this went over, so we’re just going to assume that people walked lions, tigers, and bears on leashes through crowds like some kind of old-world Gypsy carnival.
We’ll assume further that the animals went crazy from the screaming and clapping, and went on Jumanji-style rampage, resulting in the deaths of a few negligible Irishman. Revisionist history aside, we need to pop the balloons and bring back the live animals. We all had it right the first time—agitated, confused, and dangerous wildlife make for better theater than a high school marching band and an inflatable Brainy Smurf.
The Detroit Lions Playing On TV
Those long hours between breakfast and lunch seem infinitely longer on Thanksgiving Day. Fortunately, we have the NFL at the ready for our entertainment pleasure. Less fortunately, that first game of the day always features one team…the goddamn Detroit Lions. Just like clockwork, year in and year out, the Lions getting thrashed on Thanksgiving Day is every bit the guarantee that you needing a prostate exam once you hit middle-age is.
The last time the Lions were considered a respectable franchise, color TV was a luxury and smoking was good for you. Yet somehow, someway, as the decades have gone by and they’ve gotten worse, their stranglehold on playing on Thanksgiving Day has only gotten stronger.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s possible the Lions are doing it for our benefit. Like Christ dying on the cross for all man’s sins, the Lions get annihilated on Thanksgiving Day for all families’ seemingly pertinent squabbles. No matter what, everybody can look down on their incompetence together. You think you guys have it bad? Look at us! We went 0-16! Scientists thought it was impossible, but we did it!
Nah, that’s still no excuse. You can only watch a train wreck so many times before life has no meaning, anymore.