Like all great American holidays, along with family get-togethers and times of reflection and gratitude, Thanksgiving has yielded its share of pop-culture anomalies. The holiday isn’t just about the family and food; it wouldn’t be the same without a handful of Americanized traditions. So in light of the theme of thankfulness, here’s a list of modern customs I’m …
… Thankful For …
John Madden’s Explanation of Turducken
Second only to his video game series, Turducken is the highlight of Madden’s post-coaching career. Hearing Madden’s rambling baritone passionately describe the deliciousness of a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken on Thanksgiving is as American as the sound of illegal fireworks being set off in the neighbors’ backyard on July 4. In 2002, Madden became so emblazed with Turducken pride, that he ripped into one on live TV with his bare hands to display its meaty goodness. Of course, PETA was none-to-happy, but Americans everywhere beheld the tri-meat wonder.
The National Purina Dog Show
I first discovered this gem last year. Surfing through the channels, who appears before me but J. Peterman himself … and he’s hosting a dog show! As far as I’m concerned, John O’Hurley (who played the globetrotting fashion guru on Seinfeld) is J. Peterman—and I really think he embraces it too. (After all, there actually is a J. Peterman catalogue based on the fictional character.) But Seinfeld nostalgia aside, who can’t help watching a dog show without spouting their own absurd, witty narration like Fred Willard’s hilarious color commentator in Best in Show. Watching a dog show is like joining the gang of Mystery Science Theater for a really bad B-movie.
Hand Turkeys and Those Funny Pilgrim Outfits
This is a two-for-one. First off, hand turkeys; those pieces of elementary school art never get old. If you never heard Mitch Hedberg’s bit about turkeys (that culminates with a great one-liner about hand turkeys), you can listen to it here; you’ll never look at one the same way again. And equally hilarious, are the traditional pilgrim outfits. Those huge hats, ridiculous Payne Stewart pants and a belt that goes around the outside of the jacket—pilgrims are truly the victims of fashion history. In all the eras of history that have a stereotypical outfit associated with them (pirates, knights, ninjas, court jesters), pilgrims are definitely the goofiest.
… And Not So Thankful For …
The Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys
NFL games featuring these two teams have become as synonymous with Thanksgiving as stuffing and cranberry sauce. The Lions began their turkey-bowl tradition back in 1925, and Dallas has become a staple of the modern era … but why these two teams? Dallas, arguably the most obnoxious team in the league, and the Lions, arguably the most boring, get the guaranteed spotlight every year. Sure, for many the game is just background noise, but why not mix it up a little? The only plus side is that this year, maybe T.O. will incorporate some sort of Bluth-esque turkey dance into his touchdown celebration.
This 1973 classic has seemingly got it all—football, pilgrims, some holiday-themed jazz numbers and, of course, a mildly depressing plot involving the clueless Charlie Brown and the loveable Peanuts crew. Sure, Charlie Brown’s self-deprecating attitude always proves to underscore some sort of heartwarming lesson in the end, but for some reason, his negative outlook on holidays (and life in general) always kind of bums me out. I mean honestly, are things really that bad? With his manic-depressive mood swings and the show’s drably-colored aesthetic, Charlie Brown specials are holiday roller-coasters of emotion. And everyone knows, turkducken and roller-coasters don’t mix.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
I’ve never really seen the appeal of watching a parade … much less watching one on TV. I don’t mean to sound like some sort of Thanksgiving Grinch, but come on, is anyone actually entertained by watching inflatable cartoon characters being trucked around Manhattan? I understand that it’s a Thanksgiving tradition and all, but so is cranberry sauce. And like the gelatinous canned good, parades are good in small doses (and only once or twice a year). I wouldn’t mind watching a “best of” highlight reel before the football game, but a three-hour marathon? That’s like eating two cans of that stuff in one sitting … not a good idea.
I’m sure lots of people may disagree with my likes and dislikes of Thanksgiving traditions. And unless you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, I welcome your feedback. Leave a comment and let us know what you think about Thanksgiving.