The Best Night of the Year

It’s the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.

At least it used to be.

From my years in college until shortly before I moved to Texas, I considered it the best night of the year.

There is no other day or night where the majority of the people you grew up and went to school with were guaranteed to be back in the same place at the same time…All of them coming back into town to see family and celebrate the holiday.

Since most folks liked to arrive back in town a couple days early, by the time Wednesday afternoon rolled around they were already going stir crazy at the folks or in-laws house.

It made for some interesting and surprising Wednesday night reunions. And an often times unexpected amount of alcohol intake. (It can sneak up on ya on Thanksgiving Eve.)

It’s one of the rare nights where no one cared at all about the next day, and that indifference, and carefree attitude, always made for the most entertaining evenings in almost every facet possible.

Old stories flowed faster than the draft beers. You’d always see someone you weren’t expecting to see and end up reminiscing for hours.

I don’t remember seeing or hearing about any fights on that Wednesday night before Thanksgiving…It was the one night a year where there seemed to be an unwritten rule, that even the most distinguished people in town were allowed to follow, reading…’eh, act like a jackass, have fun, be loud, dance by yourself or with strangers, leave early, stay late, smoke weed, take shots, be cheap, buy the whole bar a round, it doesn’t matter…we won’t hold it against you.’

And it never mattered how bad the morning after hangover was.

Nothing a lot of extra sleep, a big early dinner, and watching some football couldn’t cure almost immediately. The relatives were always more than willing to prep the food and hang out with their grandkids if applicable.

Which, make no mistake about it, completely contributes to how great that Wednesday night is. More than 50% of the folks I’d see out every year the night before Thanksgiving wouldn’t be if they had early morning job duties, cooking responsibilities, or little kids waking up early the next day.

It’s a perfect storm.

Even if you did something out of character, embarrassing, or mean, it didn’t matter. You were caved up in your parents house the rest of the time and outta there in a day or two after that anyways.

Same time next year? See ya then.

I remember one year at the R & R in Great Falls, Montana, this older gal (maybe 50-55 years old), who was a friend of a friend, was super depressed and down on her luck. Right when I walked in my buddy yells ‘Hey Jordan, come meet so and so!’ and then bailed.

He left me alone with her for at least a half an hour. She cried and carried on about how awful she felt around the holidays since her divorce, etc.

I hung on as long as I could. Looking for a segue in the conversation that would allow me a smooth exit, but it was impossible.

Finally I just said, ‘Look this is the best night of the year and I can’t keep standing here listening to this. Sorry.’

As I walked away I told the bartender her next drink was on me, but I don’t know if he heard me.

Then I made a quick B-line over to my buddy, the same one who dumped this poor ‘ol gal over onto me and bolted, and told him he’s an asshole. He said he’d been there for an hour listening to her before I got there and was desperate to get away.

I couldn’t even be mad at him. Any other night you gotta sit there and take that bullet.

But not on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, this annual night of the year, along with all of its festivities, has been something I haven’t participated in for almost a decade.

My lifestyle and location, along with many other variables, (no friends in Texas, Covid-19, husband/father responsibilities, conflicts of interest with what the next day will bring vs how I’ll feel, etc) will no longer let me bask in the glory of what once was the best day of the year.

But I’ll take the trade off of having 4 great kids, a loving wife, and sacrificing one evening of fun a year…for the alternative of one missing one cold night out in late November, and being alone the rest of the time wondering what the hell I’m doing in my life that’s productive or contributes to society in any way.

Everyday with my family feels like the best day of the year.

Plus I make up for it in other ways…

Seeley Lake Golf Anyone?