As a child, I found Thanksgiving to be the most lamentable of holidays. It came with no gifts, mascots, candy or songs, and compared to the pink hearts of Valentine’s Day, the giddy greens and reds of Christmas, or the devilish orange and black of Halloween, Thanksgiving was just plain brown.
Adults drank beer and watched football, sedentary crimes that any eight-year old could forgive with sufficient toys and sugar. But Thanksgiving didn’t come with toys and sugar, it was just a stupid Thursday lacking in climax. Fourth of July had fireworks, on Halloween we’d trick-or-treat, few moments paralleled the excitement of Christmas morning, and even New Year’s had an important moment, regardless of whether or not I could stay awake for it. Thanksgiving was little more than a long day of overcooked green beans and other such casseroles.
It’s not UNREASONABLE to want a child to be thankful, but trying to elicit this by way of the limp vegetable is futile. The adults would occasionally present a bubbling hot dish of tubers and marshmallows and expect the children to squeal with delight. We squealed, all right.
As an adult, Thanksgiving is hands-down my all-time favorite holiday. I don’t have to buy gifts, dress up, put lights on my house, hype my kids up on sugar, or pretend that I can sing. The colors of Thanksgiving create the perfect rainbow. The orange of an early mimosa yields to the bright red of a Bloody Mary. The auburn of an afternoon amber morphs to the crimsons of mulled wine, then a Malbec with the meal. Finally, rich browns of coffee and liqueur lead into the evening with perfection. Football keeps the men out of the kitchen, and with control over the meal I can lightly steam the veggies or opt for a Caesar instead of the overcooked green beans and other such casseroles. Tubers and marshmallows? Still Stupid.
Thanksgiving isn’t entirely about booze, of course. It’s about booze and food. It’s the once a year, all day dinner party where the goal is to stay mildly drunk from morning till night without ever insulting relatives or having to disappear for just a moment, only to be found passed out in another room while the vegetables turn to mush and the turkey burns. Some would argue that Thanksgiving involves giving thanks. There are different notions of to whom this thanks is due, but forefathers often top the list.
It’s not that I don’t have an appreciation for history; I do, though I’ve never subscribed to the practice of dwelling on the dead. That’s not disrespect; rather it’s a reflection of my own wishes. When all my Thanksgivings have passed, I don’t want anyone wasting time dwelling on me, and certainly not on a holiday when they should be getting their drink on. If our forefathers were anything like me, and I’m sure at least one of them was, then I’m honoring them with my drunkenness. It’s the right thing to do, really.
As I plan the menu, stock the liquor cabinet, and contemplate spending a small fortune on brand new bamboo placemats, I can’t help but wonder what Thanksgiving will mean for my children. Will they see it as I did? As the brown Thursday of boring adults who try to keep the kids quiet by offering them a slimy bone to rip apart? I vow not to force upon them any carcass remnants masked as trophies. I don’t expect them to jump for joy if presented with a Thanksgiving coloring book which, when sold, should be accompanied by a box of crayons in various shades of brown. But I also won’t be renting a bouncy house or plying them with treats to ease tempers on edge, because not every holiday has to please children. As long as the kids aren’t playing in traffic or sampling the martinis, I see no reason why we can’t keep this one holiday for ourselves. They’ll have Christmas, soon enough.