Once upon a time, we had a perfectly good holiday. It was steeped in tradition, as holidays tend to be. It was non-denominational and based upon the universal notion of pausing to take stock of how much each of us has to be thankful for. How could it possibly be ruined?
I’m not talking about the Thanksgiving when Aunt Glenda drank too much wine and subsequently wet herself. Nor am I referring to when Jimmy Jr. and Cousin Earl stirred things up over at the kid’s table when they staged an epic farting contest. Those events are called “memories” people, and given enough time, they can become ones we cherish (though Glenda may not fully agree).
One sure way to ruin a holiday is to let time-honored traditions be replaced by new things, which may or may not turn out to be tradition worthy. Here are just a few ways that folks have managed to make hash out of our beloved turkey day:
Tradition: Cook an elaborate meal, centered around a sizable turkey, which fills the entire house with a its intoxicating aroma while roasting for hours and hours.
Replaced With: Deep fry the turkey out in the driveway, investing as little time as possible.
Result: Congratulations on taking the turkey cooking chore away from Mom so she’s free to bend the elbow with her sister Glenda. In doing so, you’ve unwittingly pinned the responsibility of turkey cookery on Uncle Phil, who is also known as “Nagasaki Phil” for what he’s done to various cuts of beef at 4th of July barbeques. The timeless aromas of roasting turkey have been replaced by the scent of several gallons of heated oil intermingled with a hint of gasoline from the lawn mower which sits adjacent to the propane tank by the shed. As an added entertainment bonus, there’s a chance Uncle Phil will live up to his nickname and light the dog on fire.
Tradition: Taking time off to reflect on what we’re thankful for.
Replaced With: Squandering precious vacation hours on rampant consumerism.
Result: For many, Thanksgiving has already become nothing but the day before Black Friday, wherein we immediately discard being thankful for what we have and focus instead, on what we want. Since Black Friday can’t come soon enough, America’s heartless retailers have started having stores open on Thanksgiving itself for even deeper discounts. It’s only a matter of time before even deep fried turkey and instant mashed potatoes will not be quick enough for the schedules of bargain crazed shoppers – precipitating the change over to Wendy’s Turkey Gobbler Wrap with a side of fries. At this rate, Halloween will eventually become the start of the Christmas shopping season with Thanksgiving being demoted to the unofficial midpoint of gift buying frenzy.
Tradition: Scores of special side dishes are made and brought by family members from far and wide to accompany the turkey. Oftentimes, these rare culinary gems are only seen on Thanksgiving, due to the closely guarded nature of secret family recipes and the labor intensive realities of making Grandma’s famous creamed onion and mashed rutabaga casserole from scratch.
Replaced With: Increasingly simple and/or instant dishes which require little more than adding the right amount of water and knowing how to use a microwave.
Result: It stands to reason that if you’re going to deep fry a 22 pound turkey in 13 minutes, you can’t spend hours and hours in the kitchen screwing around with the sides. Besides, gourmands agree that the taste of deep fried meat is best complimented by instant mashed potatoes, Stove Top Stuffing, Pillsbury dinner rolls and of course, a freshly opened can of cranberry sauce.
Tradition: Rivalry football games. In the halcyon days of my youth, the football teams of neighboring towns would meet every Turkey Day for bragging rights. Win or lose, we’d return home to the smells of roasting turkey and Grandpa’s White Owl cigar smoldering in the ashtray. Later, a couple of teams from the NFL or college ranks would square off on the TV.
Replaced With: The NFL has totally taken over Thanksgiving football. There may still be some other games played, but you’d never know it. The Lions play someone each year, then the Cowboys play someone else. This year, San Francisco played yet another game after the other two contests were over.
Result: Now that the NFL has cornered the market on televised sports for this holiday, their focus has shifted to covering even more time zones to create constant grid iron action. They’re trying hard to land a team in London, and rumor has it they have plans for franchising teams in Hawaii and on a special floating stadium in the north Atlantic. Let’s hear it for the Fightin’ Cod!
Tradition: The kiddie table
Replaced With: The phasing out of the kiddie table due to hovering parents who can’t stand the thought of their kids being alone. Surely there have been kiddie table lawsuits filed claiming discrimination and/or forced segregation as well.
Result: Letting the kids sit at the table with the grown ups inhibits parents from spending the entire meal talking about this year’s strategy for Christmas gift shopping once they’ve finished speed-eating. This will also give parents insight into what a mediocre job they’ve done teaching the young ones table manners. Honestly, when Little Brittany bit into that Turkey Wrap without holding her pinkies out, I could have just died.
I’d like to go on at greater length about this sad topic, but the time is already running out for my whining about the ruination of Christmas. I hope I didn’t give you indigestion.