Ah, Thanksgiving! The time of year to eat obscene amounts of food with family—some of whom you adore, and some of whom you wish weren't branches and leaves of your family tree.We say a blessing before we eat, and we fervently hope we won't have to spend the meal rolling our eyes at the gross jokes of that one inappropriate family member (we all have at least one.) It is, in effect, an endurance meal. We do our best, then sigh with relief at the end and are grateful we don't have to do it again for a year. Well, except for Christmas.
Didn't Thanksgiving and Christmas used to be separate? I kind of miss that. It isn't enough to pack up roughly half of our belongings and our cranky kids to travel incomprehensible distances for Thanksgiving dinner. We now have the Olympic Shopping event known as "Black Friday"—the day after Thanksgiving. We are expected to drag our bloated bodies out of bed in the wee hours to save the economy by cramming ourselves into shopping malls that are as packed as Japanese commuter trains. (Kinda of my idea of hell.) The Thanksgiving Day newspaper is about ½ pound of newspaper and three pounds of ads. Businesses we never hear from the rest of year lure us on TV with promises of joy for our families and bargains for us.
On the other hand, it's heartwarming that we Americans feel so strongly about having dinner with our flawed families each year, then making heroic efforts to buy great presents for them. We might not always have the warmth and sensitivity that we like to portray in our movies (and TV commercials), but gosh darn it, we know how to make things happen! We're Americans, by gum! Of course we love our families—see what we go through for them?
My hat's off to those tough and dedicated people who show up at the malls at 4 A.M on Black Friday to make their budgets cover their families' Christmas dreams. Thank you for saving the economy! For my part, I'll probably be chewing TUMS and shopping on the internet. I hope that doesn't make me less of an American.