Thanksgivukkah Is Coming and It Will be the Greatest Night of Our Lives
Thanksgivukkah 2013 is just around the corner and no one is more excited for it than me. Okay maybe Rob Reiner. That’s right, Thanksgiving, the national holiday where we give thanks for the previous year’s harvest and the first night of Hanukkah, the Hebrew festival of lights both fall on the same day. This quirk of the calendar has created one giant, starchy, delicious, guilt-riddled holiday for us to enjoy. It’s one of the rare occasions when something secular and something Jewish combines perfectly. It’s basically like if Liev Schrieber and Naomi Watts’ wedding ceremony was made into a national holiday minus the chocolate fountain. It’s also the opposite of watching George W. Bush light a menorah… or struggle to say “mazel tov” in that stupid hillbilly accent.
I don’t know about you but my inner Mandy Patinkin is kvelling! But before we get into all the wondrous things about Thanksgivukkah let’s take a step back and figure out how exactly this “mitzvah” (blessing) happened so that we may adequately thank “Adonai” (God, or as my people call him “G-d”) for allowing us to be alive during this once in a lifetime opportunity.
How to Survive Thanksgiving
Immediately after the big Thanksgiving meal, the scene in my parents’ house usually plays out something like this: I’ve got indigestion, everybody hates the Cowboys, and a baby or animal has thrown up in my brother’s lap. Thanksgiving is more agreeable with the aid of a cocktail.
For most people, the liquor cabinet at one’s parents’ house hasn’t been updated since the DeLorean was considered cool. But if you’re lucky, there’s a good chance that a bottle of America’s oldest spirit, applejack, lurks behind those unopened bottles of cream sherry and Midori. My prayers are with you if you’ve resorted to the family Midori.
Applejack is distilled from hard cider, and has been getting Americans sauced since the 1600s. Boozehound George Washington produced the hooch at Mt. Vernon, Abe Lincoln poured it by the glass inside his Springfield, Illinois, tavern, and that freegan-looking vagabond, John Chapman
, was the spirit’s unofficial spokesman in his lifetime, instructing farmers on how to freeze-distill—a process known as “jacking”—their own cider while he roamed about the countryside, spreading his seeds. Literally.
The Hateful History of Blamegiving Day, the Most Bitter, Godless Holiday of All Time
As long as there have been atheists, there’ve been angry atheists. Anyone who’s ever visitedReddit’s atheism section or one of the countless other godless forums floating around the internet has experienced the fire-and-brimstone smugness of pissed-off nonbelievers, but atheists from earlier eras were just as furious, and just as bitchy. Case in point: the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (4A), a particularly ill-tempered organization founded in 1925 by activist Charles Lee Smith.
Then, as now, the advancement of atheism was assumed to involve the downfall of Christianity, and Smith was practically a parody of a strident anti-Christian. He was born in Arkansas and considered a career in the ministry until he abandoned his faith, after which he spent years harassing religious folk in his home state. In 1928, while the legislature was considering an antievolution law, he came to Little Rock and handed out literature telling people Darwin’s theory was the truth and God was a lie until he was arrested for blasphemy, which was still a crime back then. (According to The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, his conviction was overturned after years of appeals.)
Under Smith’s leadership, the 4A organized young unbelievers throughout the country while adopting causes that would be familiar today, like removing the “In God We Trust” from currency and revoking the tax-exempt status of religious institutions—demands to secularize government that echoed the “Nine Demands of Liberalism” written by 19th-century atheists. Smith also spent time sparring in public debates with Christians over the question of whether God exists, an activity that’s still popular among contemporary celebrity atheists.
If your girlfriend could see the world like this, she’d realise why you hate going to visit her little sister.
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My Greatest Moments in Binge Eating
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, because the whole point of it is to eat like a hog and then lie on the floor and pretend we aren’t a country of tunnel-visioned murderers. Food fills your blood and brain, and if anybody talks to you it is acceptable to just grunt in response. Even sports start to make sense, which means to me that to live in America is to be approaching a certain death by endless, needless fat ingestion.
Having grown up a fat kid who lost the weight of a whole third grader over a summer to assume my current body shape of a normally-appetited guy, Thanksgiving is one of the few times I let myself feel like who I really am on the inside. “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach,” my mother used to tell me when our family would go to Morrison’s cafeteria and I’d try to take one of almost every item (they were eventually forced to limit me to five). Sometimes I think my entire life has been me trying to prove I can eat everything I touch.
Holidays not-withstanding, here are some of my choicest moments on my lifelong journey to becoming a lard ass. Some are marathon-like, and some stretched over years, because the truest form of binge-eating takes whole eras; each is pretty much the only time I’ve ever really began to feel like a person among people. In other words, a human.
1. Lettuce Soup-Rise You
My friend John and I were bored in the suburbs and we’d already watched Eddie Murphy’s Raw three times and Dumb and Dumber twice when we decided to go to the soup-themed buffet chain down the street and see who could eat the most. Lettuce Soup-rise You was a place that had a salad bar in the front that was hyped as the central draw, though every time I ate there I remember everybody walking straight past the salad to where they had the pasta with meat sauce and the pizza and the beefaroni and the bread and the ice cream and the chocolate cake. John and I ate plate after plate for three hours, refusing to say anything to each other while shoveling horrible things into our faces that we had stopped enjoying after the first ten minutes because all buffet food tastes like it was made for horses. At some point the food turns from seeming like food and into cement, and there you are. I don’t remember which of us offered a truce, but I do remember I couldn’t really lift my arm to shake on it. When we got home we both went into our rooms. I felt so disgusting I came up later to find John watching Dumb and Dumber again and told him I felt demonic and he told me I should force myself to puke like he had as soon as we got back. Having never been able to force myself to barf, I let John talk me into taking my first shot of vodka ever (I was straight-edge at the time) to induce the barf-desire and then hung over the toilet semi-crying and still not able to get it out. The food liked where it was in me and insisted to stay there. Finally I decided to go for a run for the first voluntary time in my life, putting on sweat-clothes that felt tighter than ever to go pudge-trudging through the neighborhood sweating grease. I have run at least six days a week every week since, trying desperately to rid myself of what the rest of me keeps making.
2. Taco Bell Drive Thru
Some percentage of my current total body is comprised entirely of Taco Bell shit. It’s probably my face. I don’t know what it is about the colors of that sign, but every time I’ve had even a drop of alcohol I find myself magnetized to the glass like a brain damaged vacuum toddler. You can tell you’ve eaten Taco Bell when the next day you wake up feeling like someone rinsed your chest with rubber cement. Once I actually called ahead to the Bell from the bar at 3:00 AM to verify they were still open on a Sunday. The most I ever spent at Taco Bell was when my friend York and I pulled through and pretended like we were ordering for all the other people we’d been at the bar with, even though they’d already gone home to bed. Somehow every time the lady asked “Is that all?” one of us said “No” until we’d racked up $50 worth of recycled beef and beans and flour and cheese. I remember somehow we were both riding in the backseat on the way home like blue-eyed human voids each hoarding nachos and folded taco shit into our faces while an invisible driver escorted us magic carpet style to the scene of the crime where we would each gain ~10 pounds in beef weight before passing out still listening to Danzig.