As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I can’t help but think about what Thanksgiving has meant to me.
In High School, I never really paid much attention to the actual day; besides the fact that it was a day where I got to spend a lot of time with my family and of course give thanks. Back then, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend usually marked the beginning of high school Winter sports and for me, that meant only one thing…basketball tryouts! So while adults drooled over the Black Friday sales, I nervously and anxiously anticipated tryouts.
Years passed and as an upperclassman, “tryouts” became second nature. At this point I didn’t worry too much about making the team; my goal was to not stuff my face with Thanksgiving dinner in preparation to show my coaches how much I improved from the season before. Plus, with all the expected running, the last thing I wanted was to be the guy puking up his Thanksgiving dinner.
In College, it was similar to HS, except “tryouts” were for walk-ons. What Thanksgiving meant to most scholarship athletes was early morning practices and if you weren’t a local, it also meant having Thanksgiving dinner at your coach’s house. You blink and just like that, you’re boarding a flight for a Holiday Basketball Tournament…say goodbye to Mom’s home cooking.
Once you hit your mid-20s this is where some of the “tradition” starts to kick in. The festivities are usually kicked off when out of town family arrives (or you’re traveling to the closest relatives) for the Thanksgiving holiday. You reconnect with Aunts, Uncles, and cousins you haven’t seen in years but you know its just a matter of time before something pops off LOL. I mean let’s be real. Wouldn’t be a holiday without some kind of family drama.
By mid-week, the elders and seniors are tranquilized with whiskey, wine, and beer; while the young adults are gearing up for the pre-Thanksgiving parties! There’s nothing like hitting the club the day before Thanksgiving with your cousins and close friends. Morning convos are fueled by a recap of juvenile debauchery from the night before and trash talk turns to banter as the “old heads” face the young in a family Turkey Bowl. Adrenaline is pumping, testosterone at its high…but don’t be fooled, you can find some of the toughest Aunties dominating this game.
Once playtime is over, the kitchen is prepped by Big Momma as she passes traditional recipes down to the Moms and Aunties. Meanwhile, the Dads and Uncles share stories of yesteryear with the boys about how they dominated football in their hay day. The day is filled with NFL games, food, laughter, smiles, and most importantly…pie!
A couple more years pass and times change. Thanksgiving is still about family, but now you’ve become the adult all the elders are proud of, yet you still need to know your place. Pre-Thanksgiving parties turn into Friendsgiving as you look forward to just catching up and enjoying cocktails with old friends, not to mention having a few days off from work. Before you know it, you’re in your late-30s, your in an endless loop of “safe” things to do and places to go. Traveling plans become the norm, and if you have children, it’s more about them enjoying all of the above; all while trying to remain sane throughout the Black Friday madness.
By this point, everyone has gotten on each other’s nerves and now you’re in a room full of aunts and uncles who need anger management. As you try to avoid being sucked into an adult conversation, you can’t help but think its just a matter of time before we start talking Christmas trees, lights and decorations. Before you know it, you’re counting down the days to Christmas, figuring out budgets for gifts, making more travel plans, and what to do for New Year’s Eve…and just like that you’re wondering to yourself where did time go?