8 Ways to Conduct Your Thanksgiving Dinner, According to Movies

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Due to a rare synchronicity this year between the Jewish calendar and the Gregorian calendar, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah briefly overlap. It has been called "Thanksgivukkah." It hasn't happened since 1888, which is right around the time movies were being invented, and it won't happen again for 77,798 years, by which time all bountiful celebrations of religious freedom will be abstracted way beyond recognition, and Thanksgiving movies and lists thereof will be equally ubiquitous. In the meantime, here are a few movie-endorsed rituals with which you may wish to celebrate the hybrid-holiday season, or at least endure it.

1. Stuff the house with family and friends, don a cozy sweater, and resume pining for your wife's sister as you have been for months. (Not recommended.) As seen in: Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), perhaps the ultimate Thanksgivukkah movie because it's bracketed by Thanksgiving scenes but also is a Woody Allen classic so you can think of it as a Jewish holiday too.

2. Travel for three grueling days with an irritating stranger, figure out that he's all alone in this world without you, feel guilty, rescue him, and bring him home to meet the family. (Not recommended unless the stranger is the late John Candy.) As seen in: Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), a cherishable John Hughes comedy with Steve Martin as an uptight executive and Candy as a gregarious salesman, stuck together on an obstacle-laden trek from New York to Chicago.

3. Host an intimate holiday dinner with three of the men in your life, like some scene from The Bachelorette, but much realer. (Recommended with caution.) As seen in: She's Gotta Have It, Spike Lee's vital, hilarious 1986 feature debut, which happened also to be a feminist sex comedy.


4. Make the homeless black teenager you've adopted feel welcome in your well-off white family, so as to then help him find his calling on the football field. (Recommended if circumstances allow.) As seen in: The Blind Side (2009), a Sandra Bullock movie adapted from Berkeley author Michael Lewis' book, and a true story before that.

5. Escalate the tension of your ill-advised family reunion by accidentally-on-purpose flinging a turkey carcass into your sister's lap, snapping a photo of her horrified reaction, and then asking if in fact she's descended from baboons. (Recommended for Robert Downey Jr. only.) As seen in: Home for the Holidays (1995), second-time director Jodie Foster's relatively rosy portrait of drolly hellish family festivities, also starring Holly Hunter, Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes, Charles Durning, and even Steve Guttenberg.

6. Give a sort of downer toast in which you inform your assembled guests -- all friends, no family -- that they make you feel old, then repeatedly remind them that time slips away from all of us. (Recommended.) As seen in: Judd Apatow's Funny People (2009), in which a depressed, friendless, and perhaps terminally ill comedian played by Adam Sandler hires an assistant, played by Seth Rogen, to write jokes for and take care of him.

7. Subvert the saying of grace entirely, to protest the whole damn thing and tell bitter truths. (Recommended in the event of heavy angst brought on by loveless, negligent, key-party-going parents.) As seen in: The Ice Storm, Ang Lee's 1997 film adaptation of Rick Moody's novel about a rather bitterly dysfunctional family in upper-crust 1970s Connecticut.

8. Try to find something true but also nice to say. (Recommended.) As seen in: Pieces of April. Before Drunk History, after The Ice Storm, there was this 2003 indie movie in which Katie Holmes endures familiar holiday ordeals and finds herself fumbling through a well-intentioned deconstruction of what it all means.