The family gathers around the crackling fire, mesmerized by the orange and yellow flames blazing in the fireplace. Warm and comfortable, the sound of laughter can be heard as they share stories and indulge in some well needed relaxation. The air is filled with the mouth-watering aromas of baking pies and roasting turkey. Too bad this is not what Thanksgiving is really like. Instead, Uncle Ted yells obscenities at the television, following yet another Detroit Lions turnover, while cousin Mischa sneaks his 23rd helping of pumpkin pie. Aunt Lucille is crying over the broken vase in the living room while Uncle Harry attempts to strangle the alleged perpetrator, even though I swear it was an accident.
Americans today, like cousin Mischa, believe it an unalienable right to stuff themselves on Turkey Day, jamming approximately 3,000 calories including 130 grams of fat down their throats during the Thanksgiving meal. How can one stop this holiday gluttony? Paul Kennedy, the vice president of Bally Total Fitness, says, “Avoid stuffing yourself to the point where you feel uncomfortable.” No, really? I could’ve sworn that you weren’t supposed to stop eating until you exploded. You would think that a person would stop eating after loosening three notches on his belt, yet, I know people who can still be seen lurking suspiciously by the dinner table as the clock reaches midnight.
As is the case with Uncle Ted, all we seem to celebrate now is food and football. The original settlers and Native Americans worked hard for their meal on the inaugural Thanksgiving, hunting, fishing, and harvesting food for weeks. Today, Aunt Lucille just starts the ignition in her car and zips down to Shaw’s to pick up a frozen turkey and canned pumpkin. I am not suggesting we fast on Thanksgiving, as if that would ever happen, or refrain from watching football. I just believe that we ought to at least remember our bearded, beleaguered ancestors before plunging into yet another slice of hot apple pie.
During the initial Thanksgiving festival, games were played, but those who ate actually participated in the games. Try picturing a Pilgrim with a turkey leg in one hand and a Budweiser in the other, screaming at the top of his lungs from the sidelines for Jediah to tackle the player in front of him. Yes, football is fun to watch, but try to get some exercise on Thanksgiving. Walk the dog, or at least get off the couch and walk to the refrigerator, rather than asking someone else to do it for you. Furthermore, if someone is overindulging, it might be a positive thing to say, “I know you admire some of the Cowboys’s offensive linemen, but are you sure you want to look like them?”
Uncle Ted is silent. The Lions have just lost. He will refuse to speak to anyone for the remainder of the day. Cousin Mischa is now making his way towards the overflowing cookie trays. Aunt Lucille is still crying. Her prize turkey is burning in the oven and the smoke detectors are going off all around the house. Uncle Harry has forgotten all about the vase and ending my life prematurely as he rushes towards the fire extinguisher. All I can say is, “So, when is dinner?”