- Brandi Bradley
Not skipping Thanksgiving
A few weeks ago, Behr and I ran out to World Market for coffee syrups. It was October 1st, and we had just opened our Halloween decoration box, which mostly consists of coffee mugs shaped into classic Halloween icons. Which immediately makes Behr demand that we have cinnamon bun and pumpkin spice syrups for the decaf lattes he’s whipping on on the weekends. We were barely in the door before we were accosted with Christmas ornaments, Christmas trees, stockings, wreaths, and you get the picture. I don’t think anything about it, but Behr took it personally.
“WHY ARE THEY ALREADY SELLING CHRISTMAS STUFF?”
I shushed him. It didn’t stop him from asking one of the stock personnel the same question. I made excuses for him and then tried to explain that the people that work in the store have no control over when the store decides to put out Christmas items to sell.
I also pointed out the Halloween decoration area and even bought a few mugs. But he was still put out over it.
“It’s like … I mean, Thanksgiving is a holiday, too! It’s not even Halloween yet!”
I agree with him and probably taught him to feel like this, too.
Anyone can put up their tree whenever they want. That’s not my business. When I was a kid, my mother and grandmother used to frequent a wholesale house to purchase silk flowers and that business kept decorated Christmas trees up all year. And as a kid, I thought that place was magical. Now I want something to anticipate.
Our tree tradition begins when I am done grading papers at the end of the fall semester. The morning after, Behr and I drag out the decorations. The day after that, I start the holiday baking. We play records. We wear robes all day. We watch holiday movies. And we repeat this pattern all the way through Christmas, through New Year's, until it’s time for me to go back to teaching. As someone who gets a holiday break, I can make that time all about my favorite things – wrapping presents, addressing holiday cards, watching movies, and making treats.
Besides, if I abided by the retail calendar of holidays, I would skip my favorite holiday which is Thanksgiving.
Why don’t more people love Thanksgiving? I freaking love Thanksgiving. I both love to eat and cook. I love spending the day in my kitchen. I am like Monica from Friends.
I think thanksgiving gets a bad rap because so many Thanksgiving traditions are obligatory. Thanksgiving is driving around to other people’s homes where someone else slaved over a meal. There are no gifts. You have to wear nice clothes. Some good-meaning relative recommends everyone take a turn at being put on the spot and saying what they’re grateful for that year. It’s the day you introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to the crew, which is always awkward. It’s also the day that some weird aunt or uncle says something that makes your skin crawl. As nice as some Thanksgiving traditions are, the fact that you are obligated to do them takes away some of the joy. You have to keep up the traditions more than you want to participate in them.
In my twenties, I skipped Thanksgiving because I always had to work the day after. Driving all the way home for one day didn’t really work. So me and my girl Slone would wear pajamas all day, make a bunch of appetizers, watch the Wizard of Oz, and take naps.
After I married, I started to crave a Thanksgiving of my own– like a legit one. I had never had a Thanksgiving where someone roasted a whole bird – women in our community had their turkeys barbequed or braised in a crockpot. My mother despised pumpkin, so I’d never once eaten a slice of pumpkin pie. We had chess, chocolate, and raisin. As the holiday approached, I obsessed over Food Network in November watching every Thanksgiving episode that aired.
Finally, I hosted my own Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law attended. I roasted a whole bird, made dressing, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and a butternut squash soup. I made pecan and pumpkin pie. And despite the fact that I smoked up the apartment, forgot the crescent rolls, and fed my niece so much food that she vomited, for me, it was a success!
I love this freaking holiday. Every year I work on my recipe. Now, I spatchcock the bird, roast the sweet potatoes, and make Thanksgiving cookies the night before with Behr. Last year, I had a super blessing and my inlaws came to Atlanta. I made a full Thanksgiving spread including two brunch spreads. Scones, mini quiches, biscuits, palmetto spread, and sausage balls.
In our house, we start celebrating Thanksgiving on Nov. 1. We pack up the Halloween decorations and put out the Thanksgiving items. We have buffalo check napkins and wicker placemats. We have red tablecloths. We have seasonal coffee mugs. We once had a Fox-shaped mug, but it broke and Behr reminds me at least once a week that we’re a mug down.
In anticipation of Thanksgiving – the current Fall holiday season, I recommend the following fall/Thanksgiving viewing:
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
The Friends Thanksgiving episodes
Bob’s Burgers Thanksgiving episodes
Gilmore Girls “Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving”
Grumpy Old Men
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Giada’s Holiday Handbook
When Harry Met Sally
Home for the Holidays
Son in Law
Miracle on 34th Street