Third-Wheel Meal

In last week’s ’tis the Seasonings post, I wondered why “ginger” and “red hair” were synonymous. Paula from Monday Morning Rail replied with the answer which probably trumps all others (thanks, Paula!).  Ginger Grant, the glam character from the sixties sitcom Gilligan’s Island had a healthy head of red hair.  Sometime after the sixties a “ginger” became a person with red hair.  I’m satisfied, so let’s move to a question more appropriate for this week.  Why is (America’s) Thanksgiving celebrated on a Thursday?

Yes, it’s time for my annual Thanksgiving rant.  Rather, my everything-steps-all-over-Thanksgiving rant.  It’s not really an annual rant but perhaps it should be.  Three years ago I had so much to vent about Thanksgiving’s due, it took me two blog posts to let off the steam (see A Distant Third).  This year I realized, zero progress has been made since then.  In fact, the situation is snowballing.  Thanksgiving is finding less and less air as it gasps between the behemoths known as Halloween and Christmas.

Poor choice of word, “snowballing”.  It’ll make readers think about Christmas and I need you to stay focused.  My campaign is to keep each of the year-end holidays corralled into its respective month.  In other words, November equals Thanksgiving. (Repeat ten times, please).  Turkeys and pumpkin pie, not Santas and plum pudding.

There, I said it.  Apologies to those of you who’ve already shopped and wrapped presents.  Apologies to the rest of you who’ve already decorated your houses.  I’m just trying to give Thanksgiving its rightful place among the “big three” instead of its laggard position as “third wheel”.

You can name a dozen things associated with Halloween, and two dozen more with Christmas.  But with Thanksgiving?  Three (at least here in America).  We have the meal itself, the parades, and football.  That’s pretty much it.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the American Thanksgiving trifecta.  The meal is hanging in there despite efforts to make it healthier.  Turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are still Thanksgiving staples (while “tofurky” is not).  I sometimes wonder why I don’t enjoy these foods on other days of the year as well.  Also, more people make the Thanksgiving meal at home than order online or go to a restaurant. (Do I have the data to back this up?  No, I do not.)  But I must acknowledge Friendsgiving, which has become common enough to remove the quotation marks.  Not only is Friendsgiving celebrated on any day but Thursday, the table spread can be decidedly different. Watch out.  There may come a November when – GASP! – more people celebrate the “friends” version than the “family”.

Parades remain more about Thanksgiving than the other two holidays.  You’ll find the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television this week and at the same time, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Plymouth, MA host large-scale parades.  But here’s my Davey-downer factoid.  The Macy’s Parade may be the world’s largest (as well as the second-oldest in America) but it’s also an imposter.  It began as the “Macy’s Christmas Parade” in 1924, designed to launch a longer retail season at the end of the year.  So you see, the name may have changed but the parade is still decidedly “holly-jolly”.

Football brings out the smirk in sports fans again this Thanksgiving.  As they have every year since 1934 (save the WWII years) the NFL’s Detroit Lions will be playing on Thanksgiving Day.  As they have been every year (seemingly), the Detroit Lions are a truly awful football team.  In the last twenty years the Lions have amassed exactly four winning seasons.  This year?  The Lions are the only team in the NFL without a win.  The Lions are so bad in fact, the NFL has added two other games to your Thanksgiving Day lineup so you have options.

We’re almost done here, but don’t panic; I haven’t forgotten the original question.  Why is Thanksgiving celebrated on a Thursday?  Here’s the easy answer.  President Lincoln made it so back in 1863, as the final Thursday in November.  President Roosevelt also made it so back in 1941, more specifically the fourth Thursday in November.  Yeah, but… why a Thursday?

Here’s the real answer (or at least my answer).  Thanksgiving is on a Thursday.  Thursday is named for the Norse God Thor.  Thor is the God of Thunder.  See the pattern?  Thanksgiving-Thursday-Thor-Thunder.  It’s the whole “Th” thing.  Thanksgiving doesn’t really fit on a Friday (but maybe Friendsgiving does).  Besides, by Friday we’ve forgotten all about turkey and stuffing as we turn to computers and shopping malls.

Now then, banish all that “Th” nonsense from memory.  The real intent here is to give Thanksgiving its proper time and space mid-holiday season.  Let’s move Turkey Day from “third wheel” to “equal wheel” by finding more Thanksgiving stakes to claim in the month of November.  Maybe we should all dress up as pilgrims.  Maybe we should also have our kids “trade” instead of “trick-or-treat”.

With that, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  And next week, I might even wish you a Merry Christmas.  You know, in December.

Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

Author: Dave

Three hundred posts would suggest I have something to say… This blog was born from a desire to elevate the English language, highlighting eloquent words from days gone by. The stories I share are snippets of life itself, and each comes with a bonus: a dusted-off word I hope you’ll go on to use more often. Read “Deutschland-ish Improvements” to learn about my backyard European wish list. Try “Slush Fun” for the throwback years of the 7-Eleven convenience store. Or drink in "Iced Coffee" to discover the plight of the rural French cafe. On the lighter side, read "Late Night Racquet Sports" for my adventures with our latest moth invasion. As Walt Whitman said, “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” Here then, my verse. Welcome to "Life In A Word".

17 thoughts on “Third-Wheel Meal”

  1. Hmmm. I do cop to shopping a bit early for gifts and cards, but I do so privately. No one knows it. Publicly I do not mention Christmas, listen to holiday music, or decorate until Thanksgiving is over. Nary a whisper issues forth from my lips until the Thanksgiving leftovers are completely gone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October. A couple weeks later we have Halloween, but the two events don’t really clash at all since Halloween isn’t about family gatherings and turkeys, etc!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I prefer Canada’s ordering of these three holidays, Margy. Thanksgiving is first in line before the other holidays take over, so it gets its proper due. A kickoff feast for the season!


      1. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yes, the order is good. It coincides with our fall starting in October because of our latitude!


  3. I’m glad we have our holiday the second Monday of October (and I have no idea why), as I like my turkeys spaced farther apart. It’s just a family get-together, no football (not that popular here) or parades. I think you made us that TH stuff up!

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    1. Oh I DEFINITELY made up the “TH” stuff, Joni (at least, the pattern itself). I wasn’t at all happy with presidential declarations as the reason for American Thanksgiving on a Thursday, so I had to come up with my own reason instead. As I said to Margy, Thanksgiving being first in line for these three holidays seems so much better. Maybe we Americans would also have turkey on Christmas if this were the case. Instead, we go with hams or roasts. Most other dishes on the table look like repeats.

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    1. Yes, like a Chicago Cubs fan a Lions fan is the very definition of “die-hard”. You must be a little conflicted with this past weekend’s Michigan victory, Lyssy. I know the Wolverines are the “other team” in your world but at least Ohio State took the loss, right? Go Sparty! 🙂


      1. I was very neutral on Saturday although I’m happy Michigan won because I’m not sure jon could’ve handled a loss to msu and osu 😂 he’s already nervous for Saturday! my dad is a die hard spartan and he even bet on Michigan

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  4. It’s sad to see everything has morphed together – I will agree to that Dave and the Black Friday craze goes right over my head. I went one time to get a piece of jewelry on sale and it was wall-to-wall people and I got out of Dodge pretty quickly. I grew up in Canada where we have our Thanksgiving the second Monday in October (same day as the American Columbus Day). So there is no blur whatsoever as to the holidays and also better weather for traveling. Here in SE Michigan, we were hit with snow and freezing rain last night making for treacherous travel for those who needed to depart early Sunday a.m. to drive home or get to the airport. Disparaging our Lions – this made me smirk and smile as you published the post BEFORE they played the Thanksgiving game and yes, they lost. If not for the tie they had a few weeks ago, they would be winless – people feared they might fare this season just like the season they were 0 and 16. People refer to our football team as the “same old Lions” and the new coach Dan Campbell is a bit of a tool who went to the first press conference saying “we’re going to bite a kneecap off [our opposition].” Haven’t seen any kneecaps being spat out yet – just sayin’. If you haven’t heard that video, Google “Dan Campbell – bite kneecaps”.

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    1. Thanksgiving in October – I’m all for it. In defense of the Lions, I believe ownership and management are keeping them several rungs below “competitive” (just like our baseball Rockies in Denver), which must be utterly frustrating to the die-hard fan up there. Then again, some of the Lion losses this season have been come-from-behinds by the other team. Only adds to the misery. Go… Pistons? 🙂

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      1. Thanksgiving in July would eliminate a lot of this whole season of non-stop spending of money/crass commercialism that Christmas has become. People thought it would be different when Martha Ford’s daughter took over. They were doing fairly well with Coach Jim Caldwell, but got rid of him for Matt Patricia. Yes, Go … Pistons, but they are not so hot this season either..

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