There are many candidates for “Best Holiday.”
Who could disagree that the top five holidays are (in no specific order) St. Patrick’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Old Court Golf Tournament Day, Thanksgiving, and the Folk Festival. But of all these obvious joyous holidays, one stands out above the rest. It’s Thanksgiving.
And by Thanksgiving, I mean the glorious time that starts with early release from work on the Wednesday and ends the Sunday. Four and half days of gluttony and rest. What more could anyone ask for?
There is that other holiday the gets lots of attention. That pagan festival turned Christian holiday turned celebration of consumerism and one upsmanship that is actually a month from Thanksgiving. The one people prepare for after Halloween and that obscures Festivus, but we’re not talking about that right now.
Thanksgiving has all the elements of a successful holiday.
The food is tasty and full of carbs. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey, pecan pie, apple pie, and whatever else you can stuff into a pie, a plate, a chaffing dish or later, a sub roll. Let’s not forget Cranberry sauce. Both kinds. The fun molded kind out of the can and the real stuff that’s pretty damn tasty too….Honorable mention to that weird French stuffing that’s actually pretty good.
Plus, Kegs and Eggs on Thanksgiving morning! Who doesn’t want to start off a day of eating by eating bacon? Best thing is the menu is pretty much pre-determined…turkey and carbs. No debate about menu like there is on Easter or that other Holiday that celebrates mythical events. No debate about Ham, Lamb, Turkey, or in my house ravioli with chicken and veal cutlets or just chicken cutlets… And on Thanksgiving, if you have a vegan relative or friend (they’re the often slender ones patting themselves on the back about their veganism while wearing leather…or the chubby ones that only eat snack foods) there’s plenty of options!!
The night before Thanksgiving brings that great tradition of seeing old friends and relatives, early drinking and hitting local establishments. There’s the annual lamenting of the loss of the Whipple or the days at Molly K’s or The Gaelic, Old Majors, or wherever, but still having fun at the Worthen of wherever your haunt is. Often you’ll see three generations of a family out…more if they were teen parents.
Thursday starts with early morning breakfast and football (and luckily for me, an annual huge game of bar keno at a local establishment) followed by the above mentioned dinner. All this without presents or elves on shelves or some home invader from the north that is absolutely real if you are under 8 and reading this. Thanksgiving isn’t a celebration of a hyperactive market economy that produces copious amount of disposable goods. There’s no religious pretext or long church services to avoid or flammable decorations or tree killing activities. It’s just all about the food, football, drinks, friends, family and fun.
It’s the perfect holiday. But wait! That’s just Wednesday and Thursday! The genius of having Thanksgiving on a Thursday that it means you either have the next day off, or a wicked easy day of work. If you work for tips, you get an extra rush and pocket full of cash.
Great day for a much needed rest or another day to get after it! ….It’s a great day for sports or a trip to Boston. For those who do love consumerism and that other holiday, good deals and shopping (and prosecution free shoplifting in Boston) although I say that the shopping on Friday is an attempt to kill the joy of Thanksgiving and encroach on this otherwise perfect holiday. Either way, Friday is like a Bonus Day.
Saturday is the city of lights parade in Lowell. People with children line the streets and get to actually come out in the dark on a Saturday Night. The floats are homemade and local and only occasionally get stuck on broken bridges. Its’ a safe, fun festive night with minimal danger now that concrete barriers keep cars out of the parade route. And it all ends with the lighting of City Hall to kick off that other holiday…and those lights look pretty cool. They are often the brightest thing inside or outside City Hall for sure. They are all white, which I think is an homage to the council’s complexion before district representation…but anyway…
By Sunday, you’ve seen all your family, friends, been out multiple times and now have the pleasure of sitting down and eating leftovers. Making a Thanksgiving Day sub or having pecan pie for breakfast. Finishing off the last of the wine or sampling the beer you had to get for your IPA drinking cousin from Cambridge. You finally try that full dish of candied yams…Endless options.
But mostly, you think about how great it was to see some folks you don’t see often. To laugh with those you like to see frequently and be thankful that you didn’t have to buy presents, go to an office Christmas party or decorate. You just have to show up and enjoy. And hopefully, no one brought up the origins of the holiday and instead allowed for all to be glad that there’s a few days on the calendar that encourage the best parts of life.