There is no question that Thanksgiving is all about the feast. What could be better than a roast turkey accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce and followed by an irresponsible amount of pie? But between loaded forkfuls of green bean casserole or pumpkin cheesecake, you might notice that there are other things going on. At TL, we always have our eyes on the best in live entertainment, and Thanksgiving has a lot to offer in the way of music, sports, and theatre.
Now, there aren't very many Thanksgiving songs, but that doesn't stop artists and bands from jamming out. Every year, a handful of acts are featured at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, a fixture on the boob tube in many homes. This year, the lineup includes Carly Rae Jepsen, Neon Trees, Martina McBride, and Mannheim Steamroller, a band famous for its modern Christmas music.
This is a perfect example of how Thanksgiving serves as the springboard for the Christmas season. As many people use Thanksgiving as the opening day of Christmas music time, fans get revved up for "Jingle-y" holiday concerts: Jams, Balls, and the like, which often feature a plethora of hot artists (this year's Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden will feature Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, AND One Direction!). So maybe Thanksgiving music is often really just Christmas music, but hey--'tis the season!
On Thanksgiving, the name of the game is football. Carrying on a tradition that is almost a century old, the NFL presents games on Thanksgiving each year, almost always featuring the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys, who have the longest histories with Turkey Day football. This year, the Houston Texans play the Lions at 12:30, the Washington Redskins play the Cowboys at 4:15, and the New England Patriots play the New York Jets at 8:20, so fans can spend the entire day indulging and soaking in the excitement of the match-ups from the comfort of their own homes or experiencing the thrill live at one of the games.
But there is more football than just the NFL. Some high school and college teams still partake in the tradition, and there are countless games of friendly touch football each year as friends and family look for a way to work off some of those pumpkin pie calories. One need only observe the example of the Friends Thanksgiving Day game (Season 3, Episode 9: "The One with the Football") to see just how competitive (and hilarious) these "friendly" games can get.
The holidays are a time of heightened emotion and grandeur, so naturally, the theatrical arts abound. Viewers of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are treated to performances by the companies of several Broadway shows, this year including Newsies, Once, Annie, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Bring It On, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Elf. Meanwhile, many schools put on Thanksgiving pageants to teach children about American history and encourage them to express themselves artistically.
Aside from the story of the pilgrims and the Native Americans, there aren't a ton of Thanksgiving plays (though some may try to force the issue, as in a memorable South Park episode where an updated production of The Miracle Worker gave young Helen Keller a very demanding pet turkey). But just as with music, Thanksgiving is a time when many people start to get excited about the Christmas season. Productions of A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker abound and holiday musicals like the aforementioned Elf play on Broadway and on tour across the country.
Looks like there's a lot of fun stuff to be thankful for. With so much live entertainment to watch and be a part of, join TL in celebrating ThanksLIVING this year and for years to come!