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Thanksgiving needs love too
The holiday season doesn't really need to start on November 1, does it?
Every year we’ve lived in our house, which is almost a decade now, we’ve done Halloween a little bit bigger than the year before. Our decorations started small — a skeleton here, a pumpkin-themed blowup there, some cobweb stretched between the posts of our front porch.
We raised the ante the next year, and the next. We added a few skeletons, some gravestones, and even a low-lying fog machine made its appearance a couple of years ago. Then this year we went really big, ordering one of the 12-ft.-high inferno skeletons from Home Depot — in July, when they first went on sale — followed by their flying witch and, for the pièce de résistance, their immortal werewolf.
And we weren’t alone. Several other houses in our neighborhood put out decorations too; conversations with a few of the other dads revealed they were just as hopped up about the holiday as I was, and yearned to get online next July to order some of the same creatures I had this year.
My son, who’s now nine years old, is starting to get into it just as much as I do. He even wants to take over from me now the design of our yard, which I’m excited to see his enthusiasm, but… I’m not quite ready to hand over the conductor’s wand on all this just yet 😉.
What that means, though, is that he shares my dismay when, on November 1st, we drove around our neighborhood and one of our neighbors already had HOLIDAY LIGHTS OUT, lit up and twinkling in each of their trees.
My son was the first to notice them, actually. “Are you kidding me? Dad, Dad, Dad… do you see this?” I had to twist my head around, but sure enough, there they were. On November the first.
Now, this is no great tragedy, of course. The family that lives in that house is certainly free to decorate however and whenever they like. But, did I miss the memo about the holiday season starting so early? Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa don’t come until late December, so… what’s the rush?
And, aren’t we forgetting something?
What about Thanksgiving?
When you think about it, it’s odd that Thanksgiving gets so little love and attention, especially when compared to Halloween and Christmas. The latter two are each a single day and often fall in the middle of the week, which can make taking time off for travel a huge headache.
But with Thanksgiving, you get four days off, guaranteed every year. Some of my best memories of home are just hanging out with family and friends over the second half of the week, doing things like catching up on reading, seeing movies and listening to my dad’s old Bob Dylan records.
You and I can think of dozens of Halloween-themed movies and songs, and who knows how many Christmas- and holiday-themed movies get released every year — here’s a list of 47 you can watch this year on Netflix alone — but when it comes to Thanksgiving movies, there’s really only one that stands out.
And I think we both know what it is.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles debuted on the day before Thanksgiving in 1987, and has since gone on to become the most (only?) beloved movie to celebrate turkey day of all time. We watch it every year, and just introduced my son to it for the first time earlier this week. (We had to do some muting here and there, of course. 🤣)
It’s thought of as a comedy but really it’s so much more; is there anything more touching than the loneliness of John Candy’s Del Griffith in the closing scenes, when Steve Martin’s Neal Page brings him home to meet his family?
I’m not sure why more movies haven’t been made that center around Thanksgiving; to be honest, I’m not sure you could even make this movie today. (I mean, who in 2022 would give the green light to a comedy about two middle-aged men driving, riding and flying across the country?)
I can think of only one other Thanksgiving-focused movie, 1995’s Home for the Holidays. Though it featured big stars like Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr. and Dylan McDermott, it’s been largely forgotten now, which underscores just how rare a movie like Planes is.
If you haven’t seen it, I hope you get a chance to over this Thanksgiving — and once you’re done, please come back and let me know what you think here in the comments. If you have seen it, but need a refresher, a writer on Twitter started posting this amazing thread yesterday, going scene-by-scene through the movie with his commentary.
It’s perfect, and here’s a glimpse of what it’s like:
Whatever you’re doing, stop right now and go check out the rest of the thread here. It’s just fantastic.
Words to run by
“He would fight for me, and I would fight for him… Whether it’s your relationship with your horse, with your friends, or with your life partner, that’s what it comes down to. You’ll fight for me, and I’ll fight for you.”
— Bridget Eukers, whose horse Rush died earlier this month at 39 1/2 years old, and was profiled today in the New York Times.
I was incredibly moved by the article, which at first glance seems ordinary and straightforward; it’s a simple story about a woman who loved a horse, believed to be the longest-lived thoroughbred ever in the U.S. But it’s also about what brings us meaning in life, the rituals we engage in and the people and animals we love, and what makes our lives worth living. It’s so, so good.
I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving this week — and find time to get some great running in. As always, keep in touch and let me know how your running/life is going.