Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 After-Action Report

I’m rethinking a lot of traditions, and one in particular is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC. Granted, I was never really into it until my late 20s, when I wrote a play-by-play for my zine in 1989. After that, I caught the parade when I could. Which really wasn’t all that often, come to think of it. It’s only been in the last ten years or so.

My latter-day tradition has been to get up, get caffeinated, turn on the set, and, upon the first commercial after the start of the parade, go out to the shed and bring in the Christmas boxes, including our artificial tree and its many, decades-spanning ornaments.

The commercial nature of it was part of the appeal—commercialism is an element of Christmas, after all. I’ve always enjoyed watching the high school marching bands and cheerleaders, savoring the poignancy of knowing that this is the highlight of many a career, if not the entire lives of some of these young worthies. That was the year I went to New York! My school’s band marched in the Macy’s Parade! 

I’ll never say no to a decent, all-female dance squad. The Rockettes once again proved themselves as a national treasure. Before getting to the Rockettes at the tail end of the first hour, though, we had to endure one awful Broadway set piece after another. 

The Broadway segment of the first hour was so horrible I don’t even want to mention the names of the shows featured. They were excruciating to watch, nauseating to hear. The Rockettes weren’t on for nearly long enough compared to so much of the crap they lingered over. That goes for the rest, come to think of it. The high school bands don’t get nearly as much time as the celebs singing on the floats.

Alas, the years have not been kind. 
And poor Joan Jett! I never found her boyish, scrawny self sexy in her best days, but now she looks like someone’s perpetually pissed-off mom. I'll give the producer of the show credit for not giving her much face time. That little bit went a long way, lemme tell ya.

I remembered feeling this way last year. So another trend is trending here. Maybe it’s just me, but there was something rather forced about the whole affair. Overall, it was depressing. I should put some distance between me and this thing next year. Make a new tradition.

Seriously, this really works.
Dinner was great, and all the more special as it was cooked by my wife, who went vegan this year. She roasted up a king-hell turkey, though, using the Alton Brown method of putting a tin foil mask across the breast and making sure the temperature in the breast didn’t go above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. The breast meat ends up juicier than the thighs and drumsticks. Every bit of the turkey is a prime piece. No one gets stuck with the dry stuff.

According to my wife, pumpkin pie out of the can cost three dollars a can so she got two small pie pumpkins, roasted them in the oven until their skins slid off, and whipped up a world-beating pie using pecans and such for a gluten-free crust. Her homemade giblet gravy was an all-time personal best. The mashed potatoes were honest to God potatoes that got mashed, and drowned in said gravy.

Welcome to Monsters, Inc.!.
We had cranberries—the real berries, not that jellied goop in a can. There’s also some fruit salad I need to finish up for breakfast tomorrow. By the way of Thanksgiving miracle, both children joined us at the table. We’ve never got the hang of eating as a family. But we made a game attempt at it.

I regret we never made a real tradition out of Thanksgiving. By “real,” I mean visiting with other family and sharing the meal with them. In many ways, I find myself desperately trying to fill the holes left by the tradition I grew up with in the 1970s. But that’s another post.

Bottom line: this year’s Thanksgiving went well. We’re tossing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (I might tune in at the 50-minute mark and see if I can catch the Rockettes) but we need to get something a little more personal going anyway. Next year promises more changes, with my daughter being 21, and my son’s last year of high school. Meanwhile, Christmas 2013 is on. Ready or not!