Tube Talk: Thanksgiving traditions

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116421835832262.jpg’, ”, ”);

Even those of us who write about television don’t watch it all the time. Some of us watch it less often than you might think—after all, for us it’s just part of the job. (Poor us, I know.) On holidays, I generally don’t watch TV at all, but Thanksgiving is the holiday when tradition and TV are one and the same.

Whether it’s parades, football or watching holiday movies, most TVs are on at some point during Thanksgiving.

When I was really little, I remember helping my mom make fresh cranberry-orange relish the night before Thanksgiving. I was torn, since I wanted to help her make it—I loved the aroma and watching the cranberries and oranges being ground into a vibrant magenta and tasting it before Mom added any sugar—and watching Dr. Doolittle, which was playing on TV. The relish won out—probably during a commercial.

On the big day itself, I enjoyed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The floats all looked so magical, and I loved spotting the giant balloons of my favorite cartoon characters wafting between New York’s tall buildings, and wondering why it took so many people tugging on ropes to control something filled with air. These days, if I watch the parade, it’s to see if any of the balloons get blown into the buildings. After all, there’s only so much marching band music a girl can take.

However, being the parade’s 80th anniversary this year, they might have something special planned for viewers. Maybe I will tune in after all.

It’s a certainty, though, that most TVs will be tuned to football games on Thanksgiving. It’s tradition, albeit one I don’t understand. As much as I loathe football, I understand other family members enjoy it—or at least get caught up in the hoopla. As long as they don’t expect me to watch “the game” or plan dinner around it, I’m perfectly happy.

This year, my cousins are hosting, so all I have to do is bake a really chocolaty cake. (Yes, along with not liking football, I also don’t like pumpkin pie. Fortunately, I’m not the only one in the family who doesn’t care for pumpkin pie.) A football game will probably be on in the background, but I’d rather spend my time playing with my little niece and nephew and trying to sleuth out what they might want for Christmas.

I know it sounds strange coming from me, but do yourselves a favor and spend more time with your friends and family than in front of the TV this Thanksgiving. But if watching the parade or cheering on the football games really is an important tradition for you, try not to forget that there are some of us who aren’t quite as interested in that stuff and who might enjoy a little quality time with our loved ones, too. It’s not an either/or situation, just a matter of striking a happy balance between Thanksgiving, football and fun. (In other words: make the most of those commercial breaks.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Programming note: The 80th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airs Thanksgiving Day at 8 a.m. on NBC.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety.

From the Nov. 22-28, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!