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’ve decided, 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 we should 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”.

Chocolate Cremè de la Cremè

Godiva, the incomparable Belgian chocolate maker, is closing every one of its retail shops in North America.  Maybe you’re blaming the pandemic but Godiva claims foot traffic at shopping malls – where most of its boutiques are located – “plummeted” over the last few years.  I’m sorry to see Godiva go.  Mind you, it’s not that I make a habit of buying $3 truffles.  It’s more the idea that I could if I wanted to.

Godiva is the cremè de la cremè of chocolate.  Their products are born of a family business dating back to 1926.  Their Truffe Originale, “an intense dark chocolate mousse in fine dark chocolate, rolled in pure cocoa powder”, is the standard by which most Belgian truffles are measured.  Godiva’s three chefs are profiled on its website (I discuss one of them in my post Confection Perfection), and endeavor to maintain the very high standards of Godiva while churning out new and different creations.  It’s no wonder Godiva isn’t considered a “candy store” or a “chocolate shop” but rather a chocolatier.  Only the very best get a label like that.

Godiva’s handcrafted “gold box” assortment

To me, Godiva chocolate is a taste of heaven on earth.  But it’s also a taste of a lifestyle – one most of us will never afford.  Godiva has me picturing mansions (not houses), yachts (not boats), private planes (not the middle seat in coach).  Godiva is a brief, delicious dip into the behind-the-gates world of the uber-wealthy.

I’ve stepped into a Godiva chocolatier exactly twice in my life.  The first was in college, after a visit to the Rizzoli bookstore at exclusive Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago.  After spending too much money at Rizzoli I was in the perfect mindset for Godiva (which was right next door).  I still remember selecting a single truffle from the glass display case.  The petit woman behind the counter wrapped up my tiny purchase in box, bow, and bag, as if I’d just purchased a fine piece of jewelry. She bid me a fond farewell.  I walked out of there feeling, well, special.

Would you pay $20 for six truffles?

My only other visit to Godiva was more recently with my wife and daughter, on a Saturday at one of Denver’s nicer shopping malls.  We’d just come out of Starbucks, coffees in hand, and there beckoned Godiva.  After much deliberation, we spent the better part of $10 and walked away with three truffles.  I’m sure they were elegantly wrapped.  I’m also sure they were delicious.  But with Godiva, it’s more about the taste of something beyond your means.  That taste may be more satisfying than Godiva chocolate itself.

Tiffany & Co, NYC

Tiffany is a comparable experience (as I wrote about in my post All That Glitters).  Walk past the front-door security guard into their multi-level department store in downtown Manhattan.  Your first thought will be either, “I don’t belong here”, or, “I’m underdressed”.  Ooh and ahh at their lavish necklaces, bracelets and rings, but don’t expect to see price tags.  Like Godiva, Tiffany’s best is behind glass and you have to ask a staff member about the cost.  My wife and I made it to Tiffany’s fifth floor before we found something we could afford – a pair of ceramic coffee mugs.  At least we also walked away with their signature blue gift boxes.

Think twice before entering!

Then there’s Prada, the Italian fashion house famous for its luxurious leather handbags and shoes.  My twelve-year-old daughter dragged me into their Madison Avenue boutique once (past the requisite security guard) but I realized our mistake as soon as we entered.  Prada displays maybe a dozen items in a single museum-like showroom, each carefully positioned on an individually lit shelf.  You are invited to sit on the central couch and offered a choice of beverage.  Then a person brings you items of your choosing (but don’t touch!).  Once I realized Prada purses start at $1,000, I asked my very disappointed daughter if maybe she’d like to go for ice cream instead.

Godiva’s tiny “biscuits”… $0.75 ea.

Godiva’s North America retail shops will be gone by March, but you’ll still have other options to purchase.  You can find small displays of their products at the cash registers of upscale department stores.  You can order most of their delicacies online (including “Gold Box” assortments, which cost more than you can afford).  You’ll even find Godiva’s “Signature Mini Bars” at lowly retailers like Target and Walgreen’s.  But let’s face it, Godiva is as much about the experience as it is the chocolate, and I’m just not gonna feel uber-rich when I’m at Target.

Some content sourced from the 1/24/2021 CNN.com article, “Godiva is closing or selling all of its stores in the United States”, and Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.