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Thanksgiving Is a Late Lunch — Stop Making It a Dinner

Your Thanksgiving meal should begin precisely between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. On this matter, there can be no dispute

Our Thanksgiving op-eds have been coated in butter and dunked in a barrel of boiling oil. Now our house is on fire. But nothing, nothing will convince us otherwise. So pass the alcoholic gravy — here are our deep-fried holiday takes.

What’s all this bullshit about Thanksgiving dinner? 

People always refer to their Thanksgiving meal as a dinner, but it isn’t, and never should be, a dinner. Thanksgiving is a late lunch, meant to begin no earlier than 2 p.m. and no later than 3 p.m., and there are a variety of ironclad reasons for this.

First of all, consider how Thanksgiving day begins. While you’d like to sleep in, if you’re hosting, there’s far too much work to do, so you’re likely going to awaken at your normal time. Then you’ll be preparing the big Thanksgiving meal with the parade on in the background as you scarf down a bowl of cereal or some other quick breakfast. Because of this, as you prepare the food, you’re going to be snacking a bit while also indulging in any formal snacks that you’ve set out for guests who may already be there. Point is, eating on Thanksgiving takes place almost continuously throughout the day, which is one of the reasons why Thanksgiving doesn’t take place at noon — you’re just not hungry enough. Instead, when the clock hits 12, it reminds you that the feast is coming soon and that’s a signal to stop eating, readying your stomach for the big event.

Between two and three is also just the right amount of “late” for a late lunch. Even if you had a bit of self-control and weren’t snacking all morning, both noon and 1 p.m. are normal lunch times; thus, they are too early for Thanksgiving. By the time that big meal rolls around, you want to be hungry — a little bit of holdout is a good thing.

Too much holdout is bad though! For example: If you held the meal at 4 p.m., everyone would be starving and hangry by then. That, or they would have caved an hour ago and already devoured the sweet potatoes

Your guests, even if that’s just your immediate family this year, are another reason why Thanksgiving is held at this time. If people don’t have to prepare anything, they should be allowed to sleep in, which will result in them eating a late breakfast, making them not hungry enough to eat at noon either. Instead, noon should be when they get ready and then head over to your place. People shouldn’t have to get dressed in the morning for Thanksgiving — that’s madness! Nor should they be waiting around all day for a meal scheduled at dinner time, which is an even more egregious time to hold Thanksgiving

See, while a too early Thanksgiving is bad, a too late Thanksgiving — or a “Thanksgiving dinner,” if you will — is downright criminal, because what comes after the meal is as important to the Thanksgiving tradition as the meal itself.

As an American, it is your duty to get absolutely annihilated during Thanksgiving. You should have seconds or even thirds if you can — your pants should be unbuckled and you should barely be able to get out of your chair by the time the meal is over. In fact, afterwards, your body should be incapable of anything except for tossing your plate in the dishwasher and falling onto the couch as your body quickly surrenders to paralysis.

But the day’s not over yet. After some football and a quick nap, you’re going to feel a bit peckish around seven or so. This is when you’re going to begin to eat a bit of leftovers. Oh, you thought leftovers were a next day thing? No. They are most certainly a day-of thing, and they become leftovers as soon as they enter a piece of Tupperware.

There’s also dessert to consider. You can’t just have one or two pieces of pie on Thanksgiving. That would be inconsiderate to all the other pies and brownies and cakes and cookies other people brought! The polite thing to do is to try at least one of everything, which means that dessert is basically another meal taking place between the hours of seven and midnight, before you finally pass out. 

Even if you’re one of these psychopaths who normally goes out shopping on the evening of Thanksgiving, by the time you head out to elbow some old woman over a discount LED screen at Target, you want to be sure that your body has recovered a bit from the big Thanksgiving meal, which it cannot do if you just ate.

Finally, I’d like to offer that there have been a variety of studies that have placed approximately 2 p.m. as the most common time for Thanksgiving. While I’m rarely one who conforms just for the sake of it, most people’s bodies have been trained to understand that Thanksgiving takes place at this time. And while it’s admirable to be creative in what side dishes and desserts you prepare this year, no one wants some renegade Thanksgiving host on this most perfectly timed of holidays.

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