Thanksgiving maybe the greatest holiday ever. There is no issue of presents, there isn't any religious undertone, and the entire point is to be with your family, eat, and watch TV. What more do you want in life? Everyday should be Thanksgiving. Hooray for quality time with the fam.
The funny thing about Thanksgiving is that it keeps striking me, what do you really do with your fam. One easy thing to do is to leave the family and hang out with your friends instead. While this may be more enjoyable it is generally frowned upon. The funny thing about an Indian family is that my parents seem to feel sleighted whenever I hang out with my friends. It doesn't matter if you spend all day with them and leave at 10pm, they still consider the day to have been spent with "the friends." Even if alternative means staying at home would mean you're the only person watching TV in your living room...
Thus the funny thing about coming home as you get older is that you actually find yourself spending more time with your parents in a concentrated period of time than you ever did before. The problem is that no one else really recognizes this and as such when you sit in front of the TV for 12 straight hours and half of it is spent with no words being exchanged you start thinking "what is wrong?" But nothing is wrong, or so I'd like to believe.
(Also the fact that Thanksgiving has had horrendous football games for the past 5 or 6 years isn't very helpful either. While football in it of itself is a great tradition, having to watch Dallas and Detroit is painful.)
Family Time in our household always tends to involve a few common family activites: eating food, watching a movie, or shopping. Much like matter/anti-matter, Family Time also has its arch-nemesis: Anti-Family Time. Anti-Family Time involves the same series of events except in an unenjoyable format that must always accompany the happier version. Hence Anti-Family Time includes: complaining over the choice of where we're eating and/or why everyone wasn't involved in the decision making process, bickering over which movie to watch, and resentment towards shopping.
Anti-Family Time is so prevalent that it often squashes attempts at creating Family Time. "Well let's not go shopping because no one enjoys going together." The problem in this particular sense isn't so much the act of shopping perse as it is the Indian Way of Shopping (IWS). The IWS involves the whole family walking slowly together in the mall from one store to the next. Invariably 95% of your shopping experience is spent in stores or departments that you have no interest in and hence make it well known to the others that you want to leave. This makes others bitter. Likewise when you get to the one store you really care about (your 5%) everyone cuts your time short. This has the effect of making your bitter.
Now the whole problem could easily be solved if everyone was allowed to go their own merry way and meet up at a pre-designated spot...but that would be too simple. That is not The Desi Way. This whole exercise after all, is a Family Time initiative and hence we must conduct commerce as one organized desi family unit. This is the way our grandparents shopped, this is the way our parents shopped, and goddamn it this is gonna be how we shop. Shopping and misery must go hand-in-hand.
So this Thanksgiving weekend perhaps the best thing to do with your family is to not impose Family Time.... and if you really must then please guard against the IWS.