Remember this article from last year, where I shared Christmas memories and used crayon doodles for visual aids?
Well, here’s the Thanksgiving version. Below are five bad drawings of five Thanksgiving memories. I’ll seize upon any excuse to render a turkey wing in burnt sienna.
It’s technically local, but I’ve only been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade once. Based on that experience, I’d say you’re better off watching it on television.
I tagged along with some relatives in the late ‘80s. Can’t recall the exact year, but if any of you know when puffy jackets with the word “CORVETTE” stitched onto the sleeves were popular, maybe you can help narrow it down?
Holiday traffic into Manhattan would’ve been atrocious even without a giant parade going on, but with it… my God. What should’ve been a 45-minute drive took at least 3.5 hours, and the return trip was only a little easier.
It took forever to find a parking garage with an open spot. We eventually located one so far from the parade route that I can’t rule out the possibility that we were actually in Hoboken. It was a painfully cold and windy day, and my $20 Corvette jacket did little to shield me from nature’s hadoukens.
By the time we got to the parade, the crowds were so enormous that even the balloons were hard to see. Worst of all, since I wasn’t there with my parents, I couldn’t dull my frustrations with whining.
We arrived home late and nearly hypothermic, ironically missing the hot soup course.
(I was still glad I went, thanks to that bronze Statue of Liberty I finagled from a souvenir shop.)
Turkey Wing Trouble!
As a kid, I’d only ever eat the wings from a turkey. I thought dark meat was too gross to even look at, and I viewed those breast meat slices as the turkey version of gruel. For me, it was a wing or no turkey at all.
Problem was, our Thanksgiving dinners involved an enormous number of people, including several who were just as fixated on scoring a turkey wing. It was a subtle war that bubbled all throughout dinner, with six or seven guests wordlessly competing for the two wings.
It wasn’t just a matter of being fast, either. You had to be sneaky. You had to forge the right alliances, and know how to be near the turkey without the other wing-hunters noticing that you were near the turkey. Not quite Murder on the Orient Express, but with nearly the same level of intrigue.
Eventually, my family started buying additional wings to cook along with the formal bird. Ever since, the soundtrack of Thanksgiving dinner has involved fewer hisses.
Shopping After Dinner!
During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, it wasn’t uncommon for a few overstuffed guests to brave the stores after dinner. I always went with them. I can’t pinpoint why, but being in a department store ON THANKSGIVING struck me as miraculous. I’d kind of tiptoe through the automatic door, ears open for sirens. Was this really allowed?!
Our usual haunt was a Bradlees department store over in Jersey. Picture Kmart’s booksmart brother, and you’re in the ballpark. To be honest, I’m not sure why they stayed open on Thanksgiving. As I remember it, there was never more than a few shoppers. It was the least-crowded I’d ever seen Bradlees. Fuckers didn’t even bother to turn on the ICEE machine.
We were ostensibly there to buy Christmas presents, but the only presents I bought were for myself. On those Days of Thanks, I appreciated my mother for naively believing that I’d spend her five bucks on anything other than a Ninja Turtle.
Enter The Undertaker!
WWE’s Survivor Series event used to take place on Thanksgiving. I mean on Thanksgiving proper. You’d be watching a wrestling PPV before dinner officially ended. It was the best!
In retrospect, I’m surprised my parents let me order the shows. As detailed in this Dino Drac article, our holiday dinners necessitated extra tables that ran from the dining room straight to the far corner of the living room. The living room was where our cable box was, so I’d be watching the Conquistadors overperform in ten-team tag matches while 40 other people tried their best to ignore the noise.
My favorite of those earlier Survivor Series events was the one from 1990. That’s when the Undertaker made his surprise debut, then managed by the dastardly Brother Love. Guys, I was obsessed from the word go. The Undertaker still wrestles occasionally, and while some fans want the 53-year-old to hang it up, I will never say no to hearing more of those gongs. He can sit in the ring and eat bagged salad for all I care, so long as I get the entrance.
Oily Disgusting Leftovers Tray!
Perhaps my favorite thing about Thanksgiving now happens just before we clear out. That’s when everyone grabs a foil tray and loads it up with leftovers.
On Thanksgiving, my family prepares way too much food. Everyone brings a dish, and many bring several. Try as we might, we never come close to finishing it all. In fact, the leftovers are usually enough to serve another Thanksgiving dinner to the same number of people!
While leftovers historically belong to the hosts, that isn’t practical with so much food. We’re actively encouraged to take as much as we can carry. It ends up looking like twofers night at the Chinese buffet, with thirty people grabbing at anything and everything.
Thanksgiving leftovers are even better than the first-runs. All of those squares of cheese from the antipasto platter are oilier than ever. As good as the stuffing was during dinner, it’s somehow tastier after a good night’s sleep and a sixty-second nuking. In those foil trays, everything becomes a single greasy mass — like the food version of Pangaea.
I then spend Black Friday on the couch, watching sitcom reruns and reading store circulars. All the while, platefuls of Microwaved Everything stand in for potato chips. When the stars align, the day after Thanksgiving is even better than the day of!
In the comments, feel free to share some of your own random Thanksgiving memories!
PS: If you missed it yesterday, the latest Purple Stuff Podcast dives deep into the 1994 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!