25 November 2010

The Long Halloween Vol. II: Thanksgiving

Welcome to our Second Year of the Long Halloween, a monthly look at the best ways to celebrate our favourite holidays. With November again comes a pretty basic one - Thanksgiving! There aren't a whole lot of options for Turkey Day, which tends to be overlooked in the media while sandwiched between the huge candy and present fiestas that are Halloween and Christmas. It definitely has its own iconography though and here's the best of the lot to celebrate right:

Thankful Flicks:

There's really one one major Thanksgiving movie out there. John Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987). It really captures a major modern part of Turkey Day, the long painful travel home as well as spending a great majority of time with someone who you really hate. It's also an incredibly funny film with Steve Martin and John Candy at the top of their game before intense obnoxiousness and Jamaican/Dozen Family films set in.

Thanksgiving is also ultimately about compassion, thankfulness, family and the lengths we'll all go for all that shit. Planes, Trains and Automobiles is also chock full of this good stuff. This, along with the fact that there's no other real Thanksgiving film made ever make it a worthwhile viewing for Turkey Night. Of course if they ever make this into a whole feature (not bloody likely), we've got an instant Holiday Classic. Uhh...moving on then.

Thankful TV:

I estimated last year that no one would ever beat "Turkeys Away" (S1;E7) from WKRP in Cincinnati, and that remains true. There's no better episode that demonstrates the need for Turkey on Thanksgiving nor one as funny and ridiculous in its slow build to insanity. I'll give How I Met Your Mother a close second, however, for both "Slapsgiving" (S3;E9) and "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap" (S5;E9). Check out the first slap and song below:

I think I'm a little more partial to the sequel for its added depth between Lilly and her father as well as the continuous slap debates that escalate through the episode. It shows a lot of what Thanksgiving is about, shitty family members, forgiveness, togetherness and slapping the hell out of your friends. These are thankful times.

I'm also a fan of "The Mom & Pop Store" (S6;E8) from Seinfeld, which really emphasizes the parade element - Go Macy's and Woody Woodpecker. It also hints at Thanksgiving Parties, which are heavily underrated. In fact, the day before Thanksgiving tends to be one of the biggest bar drinking nights of the year, which I'm surprised hasn't been addressed in TV or Movies significantly yet. Finally there's the simple fact that everything is shut down for these couple days, good luck with the dentist, Jerry. Not till Monday. We're all too fat and preoccupied with irritating family members to come in to work.

Thankful Musics:

There aren't a whole lot of Traditional Thanksgiving Carols, either, but this does come to mind immediately:

It would be a sad day indeed if you made it through without giving this a play. It's all about 90s Pop Culture References, non sequiturs and praise of Modern Thanksgiving Iconography. Turkey, potatoes, gobble gobble, corduroys, etc. He's got this whole thing down, man. It's funny that this Holiday is so closely tied to its foodstuffs. Speaking of -

Thankful Food and Booze:

Now, here's the easiest part of the whole post, if it's Thanksgiving you'd better be eating Turkey. Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Cranberries, Dinner Rolls, Beef Jerky and Green Beans are all also acceptable. Let the Turkeys fear this day over all others, they all must die. Creative types may spring for a Turducken, which is incredible. As for drinks, with all the heavy Turkey and Gravy, I'd suggest a few boxes of wine to get that Itis going nice and strong. Food is key, gorge and gorge, folks, that's the best way to celebrate this holiday.

Other Thanksgiving traditions are really just football (all three games this year are going to be ridiculous blow-outs, calling Pats over Lions, Saints over Cowboys and Jets over Bengals easy), Dog Shows (calling um...those damn Australian Shepherds seem to be raking it in lately I guess) and Pilgrims vs. Indians. The pigskin is a noble tradition, although why it has always befallen Detroit to host a Turkey Game is beyond me. I mean, Dallas is America's team, even if they're widely overrated and their owner is an insane billionaire. Anyway, on to that last part, I feel like the Pilgrim contribution isn't a huge blip on our radar anymore. It's easy to forget the tradition of Puritanical Moral Values, Racism, a brief moment of unity, then hundreds of years of Bloodshed and Germ Warfare that formed the basis of Thanksgiving. Thanks to Lincoln, though, America's got its own special day of giving Thanks.

Why doesn't anyone praise this among Lincoln's accomplishments? We've got a Federal Holiday because of him, baby! I mean sure, maybe the Gettysburg Address a month earlier overshadowed his October 3rd, 1863 Declaration of Thanksgiving. C'mon man.

Getting off topic. Actually despite its questionable origins Thanksgiving today is actually fairly un-commercialised among major holidays. It is still actually a time for Thanks, Acknowledgment, Humility and Family. Hoorah.

Let's listen to some more Adam Sandler now.

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