Don’t you think that Thanksgiving Eve deserves to be a national holiday?
Our Take: Any Way You Slice It,
Thanksgiving Eve Is Special, Too
Both Christmas and New Year’s celebrations begin on the day before the holiday. In fact, many people, including me, prefer Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to the big day that follows. Still, the day before Thanksgiving has no official title or recognition of significance, despite the fact that the day, particularly the evening, is full or rituals, practices and memories comparable to most other recognized holidays. Should this be changed? Let’s see. With our readers acting as the Court of Public Opinion, I would like to make the case for Thanksgiving Eve becoming a recognized holiday. Trust me, there is a music component to the argument.
Before going further, many of the Thanksgiving traditions presented below will be affected this year by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The main goal for each of us this year is being safe and making sure that our friends and family are safe. There will be significant sacrifices made in terms of family gatherings, but the alternatives are too risky. Paula (my wife, for those new to The Weekender) and I will be a party of two, actually three if you count the turkey, for the holiday. Having to spend the entire day alone with me may strain her notion of gratefulness, but we will have a good time. There will be calls to our kids and their kids and to our extended families, good food, wine and great music, but more about that later.
Even under these circumstances, our Thanksgiving Eve activities will remain intact. Late afternoon and early evening activities this important day traditionally include brining our turkey, prepping for stuffing, and completing whatever other “mise en place” actions are required. Paula always bakes something for Thanksgiving. This usually occurs on Thanksgiving Eve, but sometimes she simply preps for a Thanksgiving Day baking event.
No formal dinner is ever planned on Thanksgiving Eve. There is a lot of nibbling, tasting and sampling of foods. That no formal dinner is prepared on Thanksgiving Eve is supported by the fact that pizza deliveries on that day are exceeded nationally only by Super Bowl Sunday.
(Writer’s Note: 2021 will be the first winter in 21 years and the first Super Bowl in 12 years that I have not been at sea. Not sure if our lavish Super Bowl fare on the ship counts as “pizza delivery,” but technically it is food that we order, that is prepared elsewhere and brought to us for consumption. Sounds like pizza delivery to me!)
What is the appropriate music for Thanksgiving Eve? Clearly, some people believe that Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas music season. Assuming that the official end to the Christmas music season is January 1, that would mean, on average, 35 days or so of Gene Autry singing “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as well as “Frosty the Snowman,” “Here Comes Santa Claus,” and “Up on the Housetop.” Songs of that quality need to be spaced out a bit, savored and not overplayed. Too much of a good thing can be bad.
This is not to single out the Singing Cowboy. Burl Ives, Andy Williams and Jim Nabors are Christmas holiday crooners that also prove that less is more. By the way, there is a huge difference between Christmas songs and Christmas hymns and carols. Where Christmas songs (see above) are often more silly than good, most Christmas hymns and many Christmas carols are wonderful, inspirational and great music. “First Noel,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night” and my personal favorite “O Holy Night” top the list. A good sprinkling of those tunes set a wonderful tone for Thanksgiving Eve.
Thanksgiving Eve is a great time to listen to jazz. Who would guess? That is what we do. We flip from BeBop to Smooth to Contemporary to American Songbook and back again. The inclusion of a melody is about the only prerequisite for admission to our Thanksgiving Eve playlist. Anything more abstract requires a level of attentiveness that would impede the cooking process. Cooking, particularly baking, demands a level of precision and concentration that is inconsistent with some of the new music. Kamasi Washington and prepping a turkey for the oven is a bad pairing. If you desire saxophone music to cook, stick with Houston Person, David Sanborn or Boney James. They will inspire you and excite you without startling the turkey.
As for wine selection, Thanksgiving Eve coincides nicely with the coming of the very short Beaujolais Nouveau wine season. In fact, Beaujolais Nouveau Day in France is the third Thursday of November. With Thanksgiving being the fourth Thursday of November, this wine could be the official wine of Thanksgiving Eve. Beaujolais Nouveau is a cherry-red colored vintage, created immediately upon harvest and mainly served chilled. It is not aged, so most wine snobs do not consider it to be worthwhile. However, its characteristic fresh and fruity taste is achieved only through this short fermentation process. It pairs perfectly with the tastes of Thanksgiving and is the perfect complement to the duties of Thanksgiving Eve. In short, it goes down easily and accelerates the level of inebriation desired for the occasion.
Regardless of what part of the country or the world in which you live, having a fire going is a must for Thanksgiving Eve. Cooking, prepping to cook, great music, great wine, pizza delivery and a roaring fire. Unfortunately, dialing up a perfect fireplace on your big screen television does not count. Absent the smell of the fire and the possibility of smoke inhalation or worse, the “roaring fire” component is meaningless.
Has the jury reached a decision? Don’t you think that Thanksgiving Eve deserves to be a national holiday? If you agree, please write to your Representative in Congress today and insist upon him or her introducing a bill to properly recognize Thanksgiving Eve. This shameful omission must stop.
Our Take is written by Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of The Jazz Cruise, The Smooth Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea. Feel free to express your views or pose questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t Miss Your LAST CHANCE to Spend
Saturday Night with Marcus Miller & Friends
Do you have room for a heaping helping of incredible music, comedy and conversation this weekend? If you haven’t yet feasted on the 4 exceptional episodes of Saturday Night with Marcus Miller & Friends this weekend is your LAST CHANCE to do so. All of the episodes are available On-Demand NOW through Monday night (November 23) ONLY!
Click here to check out each show, featuring the following special guests joining Marcus Miller, Alonzo Bodden and the all-star Saturday Night Band at a world-class studio just last month in San Diego:
Episode 1: George Benson and Joey DeFrancesco
Episode 2: Gregory Porter and Patrice Rushen
Episode 3: Stars of The Smooth Jazz CruiseJonathan Butler, Keiko Matsui, Kirk Whalum and Peter White
Episode 4: The iconic funk rock band, WAR
Thousands of jazz fans from more than 50 countries around the world watched when the 90-minute Original Concert Streaming Series premiered over 4 consecutive weekends last month. When you purchase your ticket, you have access to your show On-Demand whenever, wherever and as often as you’d like to watch through November 23. Don’t miss these extraordinary concert events!
Howard Stone and company at Vail Jazz created a series they call Jazz Interludes that combines interviews and live performances for short segments that are guaranteed to entertain. You can see previous episodes with Veronica Swift & Emmet Cohen, Cyrille Aimée, Byron Stripling & Bobby Floyd, Adrian Cunningham (very funny) and others by clicking here.
Premiering on Thanksgiving Day and running through February 2021 are new episodes from the Akiko-Hamilton-Dechter organ trio, Ann Hampton Callaway and Tony DeSare. Every segment is beautifully shot and recorded.
Our friends at Kuumbwa Jazz in Santa Cruz, California have developed a video series called Mondays with Kuumbwa, featuring new concert performances by artists in the local community and beyond. The shows are filmed sans audience and the episodes are released each Monday on Kuumbwa’s YouTube channel and other social media platforms.
Among the artists who have already appeared in the series, curated by their artistic director Tim Jackson, are: Bria Skonberg; Etienne Charles; Omar Sosa; Gerald Clayton; Bireli Lagrene; and dozens more. Upcoming shows include:
Monday, Nov. 23: Champian Fulton
Monday, Nov. 30: Patti Maxine
Monday, Dec. 7: Paula West
Monday, Dec. 14: Benny Green
Monday, Dec. 21: Remy Le Boeuf
Monday, Jan. 4: Ray Obiedo
Click here for a playlist of the first 28 episodes.