Hi y'all from the deep south of the USA. I have just indulged in yet another slice (and yes, it was loaded with calories) of Great American Culture - a phenomenon officially known as Thanksgiving but commonly referred to as "Turkey Day". I'm still trying to work out whether this term actually refers to the food consumed or the way people behave.
Basically, "Turkey Day" is a national holiday, precluded by almost all Americans cramming en masse into virtually anything that flies, sails, rails or drives on a feverish quest to get "home for the holidays". This results in airports that look like a football scrum and traffic that makes central Sydney look like Birdsville. This would probably cause bad temper everywhere, if it were not permeated constantly by chirpy cries of "Y'all have a happy holiday" emanating from everyone from flight attendants to the local check out chick.
By this point, you may be catching on that Turkey Day is a VERY BIG DEAL over here. I chatted to a girl in the airport whose eyes practically welled with tears as she exclaimed, "It must be so arrfull fo y'all havin' ya family so fa 'way on Thanksgivin". I tried to pacify her by explaining that we Australians have a different history and therefore don’t actually celebrate Thanksgiving, but this only made things worse. She hurried off to meet her Granny's flight from Arkansas, convinced I'm sure that Australia is a barbaric third world country where there are no holidays and no one can afford to eat Turkey.
Meanwhile, even celebrities are not immune to getting caught in the mayhem. One of my friends got to share a flight with none other than Whitney Houston, who was rushing home for the holidays with husband, daughter and fluffy lap dog in a basket in tow. The highlight of the flight apparently occurred when the pampered pooch escaped custody, resulting in Whitney crawling on her hands and knees down the aisle of the plane calling, "Here Fluffy" (no doubt in very musical tones).
By “Turkey Eve” everyone hopefully makes it home....and then there's the food. Imagine a feast of epic proportions, centered around the baking (or worse if you're in the South - deep frying whole) of a thing about the size of your average Great Dane. And this is only the entree to Christmas - in a month's time it will all be done again!
And then, just when you think it’s all over and things are about to return to normal, there comes the day after Thanksgiving. I'm sure this was the day that inspired Temptation, Sale of the Century (or whatever that show was called) to coin the phrase, "Let's go shopping!"
Yes, it's family shopping day, America's biggest shopping day of the year, and despite the fact that everyone has eaten so much they can barely move, they are compelled to respond to the cries of "Sale!" - going forth in droves to buy anything and everything in their path that sports a red ticket. Most stores open at 6am - in sympathy, I'm sure with these poor souls who have been deprived of shopping for a whole 24 hours.
TV news reports showed the plight of the even more seriously addicted, who began lining up in the snow at 2.30am outside Toys R Us, apparently in search of some glittering prize called a Hokey Pokey Elmo. Caught up in the excitement of it all, I headed to the local shopping mall - and witnessed scenes I have not seen the like of since, as a wide-eyed seven year old, something possessed my Mother to take me to the opening of the first ever K-Mart in Brisbane.
So here I am, contemplating the day after Turkey Day... but hey, I can't stay and chat. JC Penney still have 50% off men's underwear, and I'm hanging out for another slice of Pumpkin Pie.
Happy holidays y'all!