Osburn On Tap: Turkey Day

As the crumpled red and yellow leaves crunch beneath our feet, the days grow shorter exponentially, and the calendar continues to tumble toward 2009, we are once again on the eve of the holiday season. It seems like 80 degree days filled with blinding sun were just mere weeks ago, but they’ve really been gone (besides a few random unseasonably warm November days) for months. It’s late November and we are left wondering how autumn and its cold temperatures (at least in the northeast) came and took over so quickly.

This is the time of year when we start hearing newscasters report how many shopping days are left until Christmas ad nauseam. This is also the time of year when all of our friends and family from all over the country come home or meet in a neutral location to eat turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a variety of other treats until they have to loosen their belts a notch or three.

Always found on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, Thanksgiving, or “turkey day” as it is called, is the first of the important holidays that make up the “holiday season.” Thanksgiving is one holiday, of many, that we really share with not only our family, but our close friends as well.

As a young man on the cusp of thirty (I still have a few years left yet), a majority of my high school friends don’t live in the same city as I do anymore. Some are within a days drive and others are a plane trip away. They have followed love and ambition to Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Boston, New York City, St. Louis, Baltimore and many other faraway places. I don’t get very many opportunities throughout the year to see most of these people who have been and still are so important to me. Thanksgiving is usually the only time if the year that our paths cross.

At least for me, the key is that no matter where you are Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that just scream family. Perhaps it’s your immediate family of parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins, and the like, but it can also be your close friends. The friends you climbed trees with when you were eight, the friends you learned to ride a bike with when you were twelve, these friends might as well be family. Even though we may be apart by hundreds and even thousands of miles, we always end up back together during the holidays, Thanksgiving specifically.

The night before thanksgiving is well known as one of the biggest party nights of the year. Nobody really seems to know why, but restaurants, bars, and pubs all over the country will be packed with people celebrating being together. They will be almost as full as they are on St. Patrick’s Day and New Years Eve. People will be swapping stories about new loves, new jobs, and anything else that their friends may have missed about them in months since they last saw each other.

Perhaps the celebration of togetherness in bars and pubs can be traced back to the pilgrims themselves. Most historians will tell you that the first Thanksgiving was most likely celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Due to the fact that the early settlers had almost no way to make sure water was safe for drinking, beer was most likely served in some capacity at the first Thanksgiving. Because it had to be boiled in the brewing process, any bacteria that could have been harmful to the partiers was destroyed. Plus, what’s a party without beer? There’s no definite proof, but wouldn’t it have been neat if the Native Americans and Pilgrims tapped the first keg of the new world?

I propose that instead of meeting your friends at a bar where you will be packed in together like sardines, try hosting a holiday get together for a few of your close friends and family members. Instead of bringing a dish to pass, a fun party idea would be for everyone to bring a different six pack of beer to share. If you want to, the host can find out in advance what everyone is bringing so that nobody brings the same beer, or you can even have each person bring a specific style. You can put all the different beers randomly in a fridge or cooler for guests to go through and hopefully try something that they may not have had before. You’ll save money by not buying five dollar beers at a bar and you will have a much more intimate and personal time with your friends and loved ones.

The World Series has come and gone, the NHL and NBA have begun play, The NFL season is more than half over, and college football’s regular season is almost complete. With more sports on TV than any other time of year–and if you are like me, you’re getting a little burned out on watching sports–you might as well follow the old cliché and play some pigskin on turkey day.

I’m not sure what year this all started, but since at least High School, my friends and I have had an organized (loosely) football tournament every Thanksgiving. Cheesy or not, it’s always been called “The Turkey Bowl” and it wouldn’t feel like the holidays without it. Most of us aren’t as young or physically active as we were when we started playing, but yet every year we find a way to dig deep and huff and puff our way down the field pretending that the years aren’t flying by faster the older we get. When we are all together on the sometimes frost covered field, it doesn’t matter that for most of the year we are separated by countless miles, we are all 12 years old again, just playing football and working up an appetite for the giant meal ahead.

Chris Osburn profile picChris Osburn is a 26 year old freelance writer and The Father Life‘s resident beer columnist. On top of that, he writes about professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and ESPN.com. “Osburn on Tap” appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE. For questions, comments, or if you have a story idea for Chris, visit his website http://www.chrisosburnwrites.com.

Article image by: Constantin Jurcut

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