It’s our God-given right to eat turkey

Emmett Fitzpatrick

Let’s face it – to most people, Thanksgiving is to holidays what the Cubs are to Major League Baseball – loveable but not taken as seriously as Halloween, Christmas or Easter.

Thanksgiving is the grandfather of all holidays – old and traditional, set in his ways but friendly. You know what you’re getting out of Thanksgiving. After all, it hasn’t really changed much since the 17th century, or at least the better part of my life.

Why then would Thanksgiving hold its position as my favorite holiday of the year?

Perhaps it has something to do with the utter silliness of the day itself. Every year the country shuts down to gloat in its own excess by stuffing our faces with turkey and all the trimmings followed by all sorts of pies and tasty treats.

The remaining days of the weekend are spent lying on the couch eating leftovers, watching football and shopping at mega-malls across the country.

In other words, Americans wallow in our own wealth by doing everything in excess for one weekend every November. Laying aside my liberal propaganda, however, let me just say that I enjoy every minute of Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving is a study in contradictions. The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving sees the most DUIs of any night in the year, including the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve.

In other words, the night is spent going to bars, getting wasted and breaking laws.

The next day, meanwhile, sees a 180-degree change in our national psyche. Something changes from Wednesday night to the following day, as Thursday is about doing “good” things with family – playing football, eating a good meal and enjoying each other’s company.

Both Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon are equally fun for me, so much so that I would be so bold as to say the best 24-hour period of the year starts at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night and ends at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Let’s think about how much we consume in that 24-hour stretch.

On second thought, let’s save that for another column.

Another aspect of Thanksgiving that sometimes gets overlooked is the great movies that take place during this holiday. If you have never seen “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” do yourself a favor and rent it sometime within the next week. Starring John Candy and Steve Martin as unlikely travel partners trying to get home for Thanksgiving, it will definitely get you in the mood for this great holiday.

If you really want to enjoy my Thanksgiving marathon of movies, try watching “Scent of a Woman” and “The Ice Storm.”

I would venture to say that a similar scene is played across most homes throughout the country on Thanksgiving.

However, Thanksgiving means different things for different people. In fact, one of my classmates recently shared her unique tradition, where all the members of her family reenact the first Thanksgiving, dressing as Pilgrims and Native Americans and enjoying a feast worthy of early 17th century colonial America.

To be truly accurate, the family members dressed as Pilgrims would have to steal everything they could from their Native American brethren, then give them various diseases and wipe them off their land. But, hey, I seem to remember the Brady Bunch dressing up in costume on Thanksgiving, so I have no problem with it.

I also like the random traditions associated with Thanksgiving. For some reason, the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are the only football teams that can host a game on Thanksgiving. The president always pardons one turkey a year, saving the bird from the opportunity to be killed and devoured by an American family.

My local newspaper always runs a column around Thanksgiving where one writer claims that he “doesn’t eat turkey.” The column was so good, apparently, that it was first published in 1990 and has not been changed since.

I, on the other hand, love turkey. I love the stuffing, the sweet potatoes, the pumpkin pies and the Turkey Bowl, the football game we play on Thanksgiving. I love how I can predict everything that will happen next weekend because the holiday just never seems to change.

Don’t worry about giving thanks next weekend.

We all know we as Americans deserve everything we get on Thanksgiving, so just enjoy it.