Thanksgiving is quite possibly my least favorite holiday. I know this basically makes me a communist, but I have my reasons. I'm a Thanksgiving Scrooge. It's like I'm one of the Pilgrims, or the Indians. Wait, which ones were the bad guys again?
I do think that my dislike of Thanksgiving comes from the very fist one. When I first learned about the Thanksgiving origin story in early grade school or kindergarten or whatever, I remember thinking it was the most boring story that I'd ever heard. Think about it. It's a story about the single dullest group of Europeans that ever existed (the Puritans) and the least interesting indigenous people on earth (that didn't live in igloos) sharing a bland meal. If the story would have involved a couple fistfights or at least somebody getting too into the firewater and telling off Prudence Goodwyfe, I may have been on board. A story about two groups of boring motherfuckers sharing turkey and maize? Wake me up when Custer gets pwnt or somebody bangs Pocahontas.
Thanksgiving is about tradition, and more importantly, 4 days off. I haven't had a "traditional" Thanksgiving since the 90s, and my last 4 day break over Thanksgiving was in the year 2000. A quick breakdown:
2011 - Korea
2010 - Korea
2009 - Korea
2008 - Korea
2007 - Korea
2006 - Korea (obviously, American Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Korea, so I work on Thursday and Friday).
2005 - Chicago, worked sales
2004 - same
2003 - same
2002 - same. When you work in sales, you fucking work Friday. You work early on Friday. There's too much money to be made on Black Friday to not go to work. I had family in Chicago, but I never spent Thanksgiving with my parents. I never could have gotten the time off work anyway.
2001 - I was in Lawrence, my hometown, yet every member of my family no longer lived there. I went to a buddy's house. Pretty sure I worked Friday.
2000 - 4 days off school and I had no job. No traditional table though, I met the Old Man and his girlfriend at the time for a whirlwind trip through Vegas, Sedona, the Grand Canyon, LA, San Diego, and Tijuana. We got to enjoy watching the 1-15 San Diego Chargers getting their 1 win against the Chiefs at Jack Murphy Stadium. Stupid Chiefs.
1999 - Florence. Actually, this was the best Thanksgiving ever. I ate pasta. No complaints.
1998 - No idea. I don’t want to talk about it.
1997 - I worked on Thanksgiving Day, at a convenience store. I thought I had it bad, then I spent the day selling single cans of Spaghetti-O's to random dudes. I'm no fan of Thanksgiving, but I still haven't hit the level these dudes were at.
Thanksgiving is also about football. Well, I don't care about the Cowboys or the Lions. Sure, when I was in America, I would watch these games every year, and I know NFL Network has added a more interesting night game. Maybe I'm a bit more grudging because Dallas and Detroit were both horrible the last few years before I left the States, which made the games lamer. Living here, all Thanksgiving does is make fantasy football extra complicated during a critical week leading up to the playoffs.
Mostly, Thanksgiving is about food. I dig turkey sandwiches and turkey cold cuts, but I really don't give a fuck about a large roasted turkey. If turkey was so good, Americans would eat it more than once (or twice with Xmas) a year. If there were traditional Thanksgiving ribs or tacos or sushi or steak, I'd be down. I'm also no fan of cranberry sauce. I'm pretty sure I would rather eat goat feces than stuffing. My three favorite Thanksgiving meals as as follows: 1999, the aforementioned pasta at Danny Rock; in 2002-2005, I ate a Thanksgiving spread at Beverly Country Club in Chicago and largely filled up on lox and bagels. In 2010, I had a Quarter Pounder with Cheese and some traditional Thanksgiving Chee-tos.
Finally, what does Thanksgiving really mean in the expat life? It's mostly a nuisance. The Daily Show and Colbert go dark for a couple weeks. Podcasts are interrupted. Facebook becomes insufferable. TV shows essentially go on hiatus. Once Thanksgiving hits, most of my precious, precious TV shows will run one Christmas episode some time in December, but other than that, there is basically no new content until mid-January. I am forced to endure upwards of 7 cold, dark, lonely weeks with nary a new episode of Parks and Rec and the 22-minute postponement of the desire to shoot myself in the face that it would bring.