Began my Thanksgiving with a ringing phone around 8 AM. Did I want to come see the Philly parade with my stepsister Jessa? I hadn't planned on it, but...well, why not? Beat sitting at home in front of the Macy's parade. I quickly got dressed, grabbed breakfast, and hurried out to her car waiting for me on the curb.
We picked up the PATCO train into Philly at Collingswood. Surprisingly, we didn't have a hard time getting a seat either way. The train was half-full, but not stuffed. We got off at 8th and Market and wandered around in the tunnels a little bit before making our way up to Market Street.
Jessa led me down a delightfully quiet Market Street to City Hall. The last thing I expected to see in the center of Philadelphia's seat of government was a gorgeous two-decker merry go round surrounded by little huts festooned with greenery and lights. I completely forgot about their Christmas Village, a German-themed collection of small booths and eateries selling holiday goodies.
We passed by these for the time being, making our way to 16th and JFK Boulevard across from Suburban Station. Huge crowds three and four rows deep gathered around the curb as cymbols crashed and marching bands twirled flags and played "Jingle Bells." The Thomas the Tank Engine balloon floated by as we arrived, to the delight of train-loving kids in the audience.
To tell the truth, we got in so late, we only saw the last 20 minutes or so. I still had a lot of fun, though. A really nifty pirate boat float and a neon showboat with kids waving pom poms passed us by. We saw giant ornaments and a huge Smurfette balloon. Santa arrived last in his giant sleigh, proceeded by one of the local marching bands glittering in black and gold.
We doubled back through Love and Willhem Parks to explore the Christmas Village further. Every booth featured knitted scarves and hats, glittering delicate glass or rustic hand-made ornaments, Philadelphia souvenirs, or wooden toys and games. The scene of smoked sausage and the tang of sauerkraut and good German beer filled the air as people gathered around the famous LOVE sculpture. We looked around, but didn't buy anything. I picked up a hot chocolate to wake me up at a busy Dunkin' Donuts on Market Street instead.
Jessa drove me home after we got back in. She and her husband Joe were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at an aunt's house. Oh, and she's doing just fine. She's taken up running and is looking quite fit. She managed to move faster than me in the city!
Got home around 11 AM. That left me plenty of time to watch the last hour of the Macy's parade. My favorite balloon was the adorable green Sinclair Oil dinosaur and her darling baby clinging happily to her back. I also liked sweet yellow Baby Shark, and one that I'd seen around but never checked out, book character Ada Twist, Scientist. No clue what Ryan's World or the Red Titan is, either.
Switched to Match Game '75 while making my bed and putting on the warmer flannel sheets. Game show legends Bob Barker and Arlene Francis join in to see contestant Carol Bartos become the Match Game all-time champ at that point. The others throw in their own help with "Heat __" on the Audience Match.
At 12:30, I went to Paramount Plus to watch the Bills-Lions game while changing into nicer pants. Considering the Bills are one of the best teams in the NFL and the Lions are only so-so, the game was much better than I expected. One team would run down and score a touchdown, only for the other team to take it in the other direction. The Bills had just started to pull ahead when I called Uber to take me to Brooklawn. (The Bills eventually won 28-25.)
To my surprise, I got an Uber driver in less than a minute; they arrived in three. There was actually quite a bit of traffic around as he drove across Camden County to Brooklawn and Gloucester City, especially on the highways. I guess a lot of people wanted to go home for Thanksgiving this year.
I, on the other hand, went out to eat at the Empire Diner. The glittering chrome and neon building sits on a traffic circle hugging the borders of Brooklawn and Gloucester. Unlike the more modern Colonial and Legacy Diners, the Empire went in for straight fifties, with laminated tables and chrome everywhere. They were surprisingly busy for a holiday. I did see some other people dining alone, mainly older folks, but it was mainly large family groups who crowded into booths.
My free turkey dinner came with cranberry stuffing and a choice of soup, salad bar, and vegetable sides. I went with the salad bar for more greens and a tuna macaroni salad, fried zucchini, and sweet potatoes. The gloppy gravy was probably from a bottle, but the turkey and stuffing were decent. I'd never had fried zucchini before. They were basically breaded zucchini slices, and they weren't bad. Drinks and desserts weren't included in the meal, but it isn't Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Christmas songs played on the radio in the background. (Among them, Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." It's not really the Christmas season until you hear Bing on the radio.)
It took me much longer to get a ride home. The Empire Diner is lovely, but it's in the middle of nowhere. The only other things out there are a Shop-Rite down the road and a bowling alley, neither of which are on the same side of the traffic circle as the Diner. Took the driver more than 20 minutes to find the place, and then we had to turn around and go another way when a huge puddle flooded the pass under the train bridge nearby.
The weather was way too pleasant to go straight inside when I got back into Oaklyn. I opted for a walk to WaWa instead. It was absolutely perfect today. The sun was out, the sky was a sweet baby blue, and it was in the mid-50's, nowhere near as cold as it was last week. The wind had vanished, too. Treated myself to a tasty peppermint mocha smoothie at a busy WaWa.
After I got home, I settled down to watch (and nearly passed out while watching) Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Ad executive Neal Page (Steve Martin) just wants to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving, but every vehicle he attempts to ride, from planes to trucks, fails to get him closer. He also keeps running into Del Griffith (John Candy), a shower curtain ring salesman and the nicest guy you'll ever meet, but also a chatty and annoying mass of bad habits. As the two men make their way to Chicago in any way they can get to, Neal begins to understand why Del is on the road...and why he has a real reason to be thankful.
Classic comedy remains one of the most hilarious of director John Hughes' career and features two of Candy and Martin's best performances, even when it takes a sharp left turn into forced sentimentality towards the end.
Worked on writing for an hour or so next. Debralee settles down on the couch with her nutcracker while the others discuss the idea of the Nutcracker being a prince. Bill Daily is now the one who points out the differences between the nutcracker's story and the ballet. Gene insists it sounds more like the original ETA Hoffman story.
Watched the Peanuts Thanksgiving specials while having a small soup dinner. Chuck has a real dilemma in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Peppermint Patty invited herself, Franklin, and Marcie over for dinner, but Chuck and Sally are going to their grandmother's house for dinner. Linus suggests they make a simpler meal of toast, pretzel sticks, ice cream, jelly beans, and popcorn to appease them. Peppermint Patty is furious, until Marcie and Linus remind their friends of the real reason for the holiday.
The real reason for the holiday also turns up in The Mayflower Voyagers, an episode of the mini-series This Is America, Charlie Brown. The Peanuts kids, Snoopy, and Woodstock are pilgrim children and pets going to the New World. While all of the children and animals did survive the journey and subsequent bad winter, their parents weren't so fortunate. Many were sick and dying when the Native chief Massasoit and his warrior Squanto offered aid to the settlers. After a bountiful harvest, they're so grateful to their new friends, they hold a feast of Thanksgiving in honor of their home and all they have to be grateful for.
Finished the night on YouTube with two lesser-known Thanksgiving specials. I go further into these at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.
And I hope you had an equally joyful and unique Thanksgiving with all the people you love!