Thanksgiving Between the Christmas Cues

Thursday paper!

Another ancient tradition falling by the wayside in today’s culture: newspapers thrown on driveways.

Before our first glimpse of Thanksgiving turkey or family, my long holiday weekend kicked off after work Wednesday when I arrived home around 4 p.m. to find Thursday morning’s newspaper already delivered, articles and all. The largest physical edition every year, Thanksgiving Day papers are coveted for their Black Friday ads, more or less the official Christmas season launch. Shoppers can’t wait to get started on it — hence more and more stores reopening on Thanksgiving itself, hours ahead of the Black Friday starter pistols. It stands to reason our carrier couldn’t wait to get past it, to unload this newsprint behemoth as soon as possible.

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The Very First Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is nigh again! Time for gratitude toward those wonderful people who endure us, another round of overeating, more complaints about What the First Thanksgiving Was Really Like in Case You Haven’t Heard That One Before, and both budgets and self-control thrown out the window for the sake of the longest Friday of the year.

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The Joy of Recurring Gratitude

Thanksgiving Card!

Art by an anonymous Hallmark staffer, probably.

Every year I receive exactly one (1) greeting card wishing me Happy Thanksgiving. A fellow who works for my company in another state used to need my help on assorted requests several years ago, and I’ve been on his Thanksgiving card list ever since. Nowadays he needs my help only sporadically — if we have contact more than twice a year, I’d be surprised. But he keeps me in his thoughts. Above and beyond the pre-printed, mass-produced, well-wishing boilerplate, he writes a note of personalized appreciation inside each card, much more than just “Hi!” and a name. It’s always wordier than 90% of the Christmas cards we receive, the closest I ever get to an old-fashioned letter. It’s a tradition that used to strike me as odd, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to appreciate it as a kind touch that adds a modest, welcome flourish to the proceedings. Also, this year’s model looks niftier than ever.

To MCC’s longtime readers: thank you for being you. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks very much for the comments and the encouraging feedback, whether one-click or multi-paragraph. Thanks for your acts, great or small, that go a long way toward making this peculiar labor of love an enriching experience. Special thanks to anyone who’s ever recommended or just mentioned the site to any other human. Thanks to all of you for being there at every level.

Our family wishes a happy, blessed Thanksgiving to you frequent visitors and newcomers alike. May your holiday and your weekend be filled to overflowing with a continual parade of kindnesses, from the largest favors to the smallest gestures. And may you find yourselves pleasantly surprised at which moments come to mean the most.

Indiana Couple Negotiates Tentative Agreement for Turkey After Weeks of Diplomatic Stalemate

Turkey and Pie!

Turkey and pie. Let’s face it: everything else at the Thanksgiving table is disposable.

All this week, every time someone friendly asked me, “Got plans for Thanksgiving?” I’ve had to shrug and say, “Wish I knew.” As of this morning, six days before the big event, neither my family nor Anne’s had communicated a single word to either of us one way or another. No Facebook “event” set up. No direct messages. No general statuses. No phone calls. No cards. No sign of any volunteers. No visible evidence that any of them still considered Thanksgiving a worthy celebration and not a fabricated Hallmark card-selling stunt.

Hoping for the best but planning for the worst, we decided tonight to buy our own fourteen-pound backup turkey. Just in case. Because sometimes you gotta take holiday matters into your own hands.

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Happy Thanksgiving from MCC!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

Every chef’s least favorite part of the Thanksgiving experience: the customer complaints.

In the spirit of the American holiday, the management here at Midlife Crisis Crossover would like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving upon you ‘n’ yours, and to express our sincerest gratitude to You, the Viewers at Home. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks very much for your generous encouragement signals in all their varied forms. Danke schön for making this long-term hobby experiment enjoyable even when it’s not easy. And enjoy a Special Thanks during the end credits for just being You.

Whether you’re visiting loved ones, liked ones, or other ones, or opting out of the visiting experience altogether, may your celebratory meals be enjoyed in peace, love, harmony, and kindness in both spirit and tongue. May your gathering remain festive and filled with fellowship, and may it not turn into a flame war so atrocious that it earnsits own hashtag.

And don’t forget to thank the hard-working chef(s) and collaborators who made your Turkey Day feeding possible. Even if the turkey is a little dry, or the dinner rolls are a little overcooked, or they forgot to salt anything, or they think jellybeans are an acceptable substitute for stuffing, or they’re serving their homemade off-putting cranberry-rhubarb-coconut cobbler again, their generosity, diligence, and talents nonetheless deserve a round of recognition. After you’ve complimented them or handed them awards, then you can go fall asleep in their favorite recliner or on their living room rug. Cheers!

A Very Special MCC Thanksgiving Haiku-tacular

Thanksgiving dinner leftovers

Thanksgiving success / is measured by the lack of / pretty leftovers. [Source: file photo from / our two thousand eleven / meal to end all meals.]

Just because I can
Write a Thanksgiving haiku
Clearly means I should

Does it get worse? Let’s find out!

2013 Road Trip Photos #19: Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

After spending the first half of Day Five on the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruise, we headed back west toward our Boston hotel, but with one more stopover in mind along the way: the town of Plymouth, location of the celebrated area where those stalwart adventurers known in American textbooks as the Pilgrims settled in 1620, established a new life apart from the Church of England, and invented the Thanksgiving holiday that large American department stores have all but abolished.

Plymouth’s star attraction is, of course, one of the most famous pebbles in America: Plymouth Rock. Legend and history share billing in its tale, but contemporary sources corroborated the age of the designated Rock, which dates back to at least the 1770s, if not quite to the original walking path of the Pilgrims themselves. Either way it’s certifiably centuries older than we are.

Plymouth Rock, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Continue here for more of our Thanksgiving in July!

Your New Black Thursday Strategy Guide

Christmas toys

If you want to be first in line to buy Christmas presents for your loved ones for nickels on the dollar, even if they’re worth pennies at best, you need to be prepared.

Last year on this site I wrote at length about my frustration with the ongoing dilution of my personal Black Friday tradition. What was once a fun, singular day of people-watching and movie-hoarding has lost its charm for me as retail stores continue to reopen earlier and earlier that weekend to accommodate America’s lust to begin Christmas shopping as soon as possible, even if their Thanksgiving turkey dinner is still digesting and most of their relatives remain unvisited.

Last year’s new fad was for stores to reopen at midnight Friday instead of waiting until Friday’s been up and running for a few hours first. This year, many stores think midnight is too long to wait for shoppers to come fork over all the monies, and are reopening Thanksgiving evening, around the same time that some families are accustomed to holding their Thanksgiving. On the bolder end of the spectrum, Old Navy plans to open on Thanksgiving at 9 a.m. I’m sure they’re not alone in rejecting the holiday’s existence altogether.

Clearly if one wants to win at two-day Black Friday, the old single-day Black Friday playbook needs to be shredded and competitive shoppers need to rethink their strategies. Because, like Black Friday, this new tradition of Black Thursday isn’t just about Christmas survival. It’s about Christmas victory.

How to win Christmas and ignore people!

2013 Road Trip Photos #18: a Monument for Thanksgiving

After spending the first half of Day Five on the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruise, we headed back west toward our Boston hotel, but with one more stopover in mind along the way: the town of Plymouth, location of the celebrated area where those stalwart adventurers known in American textbooks as the Pilgrims settled in 1620, established a new life apart from the Church of England, and invented the Thanksgiving holiday that large American department stores have all but abolished.

In 1889, as a salute to those religious pioneers and their works, the National Monument to the Forefathers was erected, albeit originally with the simpler name of “Pilgrim Monument”. It was later renamed to avoid conflict with another structure with that same label in Provincetown, the place on the eastern edge of Cape Cod where the Pilgrims first walked ashore but decided not to stick around.

Over eight stories tall, the Monument isn’t hard to spot from a distance, though internet mapping sites threw a fit trying to navigate us to it. We ended up parking several blocks away and walking because both Mapquest and Google Maps swore it was “just right there.” Liars, both.

National Monument to the Forefathers, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Click here and approach the Forefathers!

Three-Hour Struggle to Craft Clever Way of Saying “Happy Thanksgiving!” Ends in Bitter Tears

Thanksgiving

I can haz turkee?

To anyone reading this, whether loyal reader or fleeting passerby:

In accordance with Bloggers Union Local 151 holiday bylaws, the following memorandum constitutes official notice that I, your humble entertainer for the next three to 120 seconds, hereby wish you and yours a blessed, happy Thanksgiving with utmost sincerity. For those residing outside the authorized Thanksgiving celebration zone, please enjoy your Thursday anyway, with or without turkey.

To comply with the aforementioned bylaws, this writer wishes to acknowledge the following with heartfelt thankfulness, probably in the wrong order:

* God, His son, and the Holy Spirit

* My amazing wife and my impressive son

* All other family members who communicate with me in any fashion outside holiday gatherings

* Whatever forces secretly keep America running without collapsing

* The creator of the four-day weekend

* Our dog (pictured), the most loving and amusing nonhuman in our household

* The manufacturers of this computer; the real inventors of the Internet; our current, ever-improving ISP; and the benevolent folks at WordPress.com

* My employers, more often than not

* My friends and compatriots in my various online communities, past and present

1000 Likes on WordPressParticularly near and dear to me this year are those who have read, followed, and actively supported me in my endeavors regarding my writing in general and this site in particular, now seven months old and not yet crashed or burnt. Any forms of feedback, from the simplicity of clicks to the extreme generosity of comments, have meant the world to me as I continue this process of exploration, experimentation, and indulgent navel-gazing. While the value of such input into my process is sometimes hard to quantify, the WordPress.com sensors insist that earlier this week marked MCC’s crossing of the 1000-Like threshold. I had no idea they tracked such statistics to that extent. I can’t believe they even have a dashboard icon for it (pictured). The longtime high-traffic bloggers among you probably enjoy this response level as a twice-weekly event, but a small fry like me is in no position to take any forms of encouragement for granted. Obviously I try not to rely on Likes as the foundation for my self-image, but I can’t deny that it’s nice to have some kind of measuring tool (no matter how unscientific) to confirm that I’m not necessarily applying this particular skill set on a daily basis entirely in vain.

Even if I am, at least my wife still thinks I’m cool. That’ll do.

Thanks for reading, supporting, and humoring me. Enjoy the day!

Turkey Leg Rock (because every holiday needs carols)

Thanksgiving turkeyThis Thursday will mark my first time in almost two decades, and my wife’s first time in her life, that she and I will attempt to cook a turkey. We volunteered for turkey duty because one of our usual turkey chefs is under the weather this year and sorely needed a relief from her duties. We appreciate my wife’s grandmother’s years of service, but we think her turn to rest and watch while someone treats her for a change.

I thought to sing an ode to our forthcoming meal (pictured), but traditional Thanksgiving carols are few and far between. Once you get past “Over the River and Through the Woods”, the pickings are pretty sparse. No one’s written “Have Yourself a Merry Little Thanksgiving” or “White Thanksgiving” or “O Come, All Ye Hungry” or even “O Butterball”. I couldn’t even find a single hymn praising Squanto for giving the Pilgrims maize. Fie on those tuneless ingrates.

So I wrote my own ode. Feel free to serenade your own meal as well. And if you’re off the Internet between now and then, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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Once Upon a Time When Black Friday Was My Thing

winter crowd, downtown IndianapolisNo one would deny that Black Friday, on a base level, has always been about crass consumerism. Even in more mild-mannered times when the day after Thanksgiving was simply the starter pistol that signaled the first day for many people to initiate Christmas season protocols, phase one was almost always, “Commence gift-shopping.” Within that oft-derided framework, though, for the past several years I managed to develop myself a fun routine in which I found fun and purpose in my own little ways.

My ritual would begin each Thanksgiving evening, after all relatives were finished with my presence for the day. For just this one special day out of the year, I would spend several hours reading a newspaper. My wife and I would open up the day’s issue of the Indianapolis Star, toss the articles to one side for later skimming, and have several hundred pages of ads lying before us. I would assess our technological and living situation; brainstorm a list of things that could use replacing, upgrading, or first-time owning; then study all the ads laboriously like Rupert Giles researching an obscure monster. I created a notebook index of my most viable store options — potential deals for the items on our want list, both the most impressive sales and the next-best alternatives in case I was beaten to the punch by too many other, wilier shoppers. I would assemble a strict chronological itinerary visit in descending order of store opening times. In my own special way, I prepared for war.

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