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Thanks a ton: A non-edible guide to Thanksgiving

| Monday, November 24, 2014

web_thanksgivingSara Shoemake
I might be biased because I was born in the fall, but the transition from autumn to winter holidays is on top as my favorite stage of the year. It’s like ordering bottomless pancakes with each one more delicious and mouth-watering than the next. We’ve checked the box on Halloween, and now, in the eloquent words of Mr. Charles Brown, “we’ve got another holiday to worry about.”

No, it’s not considered the “most wonderful time of the year,” for some. As an 8-year-old, I likened Thanksgiving to the Christmas Eve of the Christmas season. Every little preparation for Thanksgiving was a glorious reminder as to how close Christmas was, replacing the turkey plates and cups with fake pine trees, vibrantly colored lights and the apotheosis of all that is merry and bright: Christmas music. I take an unbreakable vow following every Halloween to shield my ear from the temptation of the early birds’ chirp, the sound of those who skip Thanksgiving altogether and project Pandora’s holiday station from their cars and quads.

Therefore, in honor of Thanksgiving and all it encompasses for each of us, allow me to turn this page into a sample feast of Turkey Day’s finest in entertainment and tradition. You may have tasted some of these before, others you might try for the first time this year. I encourage you to hold off on Christmas for just a smidgen bit longer so that you can savor and enjoy the family, friends and memories of November’s last Thursday.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

If you did not grow up watching this signature Thanksgiving spectacle, I seriously question what you were doing instead. To this day, my bucket list includes performing in this cornucopia of giant floats, balloons and performances in every fine arts category, from high school bands to Broadway musicals. The 88-year-old parade is appropriately referred to as the official kick-off to the holiday season, seen by more than 3.5 million people on the streets of New York and an additional 50 million people from the comfort of their home. Originally the parade was called the Macy’s Christmas Parade, started by Macy’s employees and instantly proclaimed an annual event, according to the event’s website. The first giant character balloon debuted was Felix the Cat in 1927, starting a trend of iconic pop culture character balloons including Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Hello Kitty and the character with the most balloons in history, Snoopy. More than 8,000 volunteers participate in the parade every year, marching all of the 2.5 miles through the streets of Manhattan. Also,  the National Dog Show is live immediately after the parade if you find yourself craving cute canines.

Thanksgiving Television Specials

Thanksgiving always manages to bring out the best in cable. When done right, the general themes of family and friendship aren’t overly forced upon any characters because the ideals of Thanksgiving provide a backdrop of warm, fuzzy feels. Before wisdom reflects and waxes regret and nostalgia at New Year’s, it heats up at the table of Charlie Brown, Fraiser Crane and President Jed Bartlet. Don’t forget all the side dishes of wordplay such as “Slapsgiving” in “How I Met Your Mother,” “Merry Thanksgiving” from “Two and a Half Men” or “Seinfeld’s” chaotic “Mom and Pop Store.”

“A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” taught me some of my first full sentences, like, “Where’s the mashed potatoes? Where’s the cranberry sauce? Where’s the pumpkin pie?” Another Peanuts Thanksgiving-related special not nearly as well-known is “This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers,” one I strongly recommend if you want to brush up on your history Snoopy-style.

Why rush through the quintessential Americana festivities of this upcoming day of thanks? It’s consistent in date and time and promises copious amounts of each individual food group. Christmas is more marketable in comparison, but the retail of Thanksgiving touches exclusively upon the identity and foundation of United States’s history. The reunions and togetherness celebrated are bittersweet as families grow, shrink and alter with each year’s circumstances. However, in spite of what is lost by year’s end, the joy of Thanksgiving manifests in the blessings found in life’s unrest, what and who pursues.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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