I do not have a lot of sentimental attachment to Thanksgiving. It’s hard to when mostly you won’t eat the food and you don’t like the family with whom you had the most contact for the holiday. I did grow up with the Go To Grandma’s routine—my grandmother wasn’t exactly over the river and through the woods, but through the Eaton Canyon Wash and past Hastings Ranch will I guess do—but it died away when I was in seventh grade, and the main feeling in my nuclear family was relief. But the US in general does tend to fetishize the holiday, and it’s weird that there aren’t a lot of movies about it.
Oh, you get some. But I honestly can’t think of many movies where the point is the Thanksgiving holiday itself. Travel, sure, but how many Thanksgiving movies are there, and how many of those are actually set at the family gathering? You’d think there would be a lot of potential for drama there, or comedy, or something, but it seems as though the near-universal reaction is, “Eh, let’s set it on Christmas instead.” Presumably this is because “Christmas movie” is actually a genre, whereas “Thanksgiving movie” just never has been. But that just begs the question; why hasn’t it been one? There’s no reason, just the bare fact.
It’s so bad that Google’s list of Thanksgiving movies includes several TV specials—I love “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” as much as the next person, enough in fact to have once had toast and popcorn and pretzel sticks and jellybeans with a friend, but it’s not a movie—and Miracle on 34th Street, which does start on Thanksgiving but even there is about the most Christmas part of Thanksgiving, the Santa in the Macy’s parade. Practically the only one that feels like Thanksgiving is an important part of the story is Alice’s Restaurant.
In fact, Alice’s Restaurant is a bit of an early take on what is now referred to as a “Friendsgiving,” given details like “Woody Guthrie is dying in a hospital as the story takes place.” And my goodness but there’s a rich mine of material in the Friendsgiving. I’ve been to more than a few in my day; you could get quite a nice romantic comedy out of one, or just a comedy of errors. You could get a drama out of why everyone is there. Heck, if you wanted, it’s not unreasonable to do a horror movie at one, with the friends getting picked off one by one by let’s say someone’s psycho father who resents that they didn’t come home for the holidays.
That’s just a start. Give me a setting and a genre, and I can probably work out a plot for you. The new partner of one of the people attending. That’s obviously full of potential. People who don’t see each other very often having to learn to deal with one another. There are lots and lots of choices here, and why don’t we work with more of them? Certainly it seems as though plenty of people might like to watch a movie rather than pay attention to their families for the holiday.