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Lessons learned from a Thanksgiving in Chicago

December 01, 2013|By Stephen Markley, @stephenmarkley | For RedEye

Because everyone from Chicago is actually from Ohio, none of us actually spends Thanksgiving here. This was my first year staying in the city for the holiday. You see, there are amazing benefits to Thanksgiving in Chicago. During a so-called "Friendsgiving," you do not have to cringe at your drunk, racist uncle/aunt/grandma/whoever while thinking, "God, I hate Thanksgiving."

If you have Thanksgiving in Chicago, you can go out the night before. Blackout Wednesday means you can cripple your friends' plans for 7 a.m. buses and flights. It's a little-known historical fact that no young person has ever made a 7 a.m. Megabus ride to Cincinnati the day after Blackout Wednesday, let alone my friend Pat, who should have just stayed out with me till 4 a.m. at Butch McGuire's like any rational person would.

If you have Thanksgiving in Chicago, you can get progressively drunker throughout the day and quote that classic "Home Alone" line—"Look what you did, you little jerk!"—at the dog.

If you have Thanksgiving in Chicago, you can challenge your friend Eric to a 3 a.m. Blackout Wednesday ice cream-eating contest. You can scream at each other in the Wicker Park Walgreens, "Don't you [bleeping] tell me about ice-cream eating contests! I was winning ice cream contests in the womb. I'll eat so much ice cream, we can throw Thanksgiving dinner into the street tomorrow and stamp on it till even the dogs and squirrels barf it up. That's how much more ice cream I can eat than you!"

If you have Thanksgiving in Chicago, your friend Meg can be approached by a cute girl inquiring about you and then proceed to totally blow it. And later when you throw up your hands in frustration at her failure as a wing-woman she can say, "Oh, you wouldn't have liked her. She was 24 and you're 30. You don't like innocent, impressionable younger women, right?"

If you have Thanksgiving in Chicago, you can go to the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and gaze in awe at TV's Albert Clifford "A.C." Slater. Panty-throwing optional.

If you have Thanksgiving in Chicago, you can get progressively drunker throughout the day and quote that even more classic "Home Alone" line—"Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal," at your friends.

If you have Thanksgiving in Chicago, you can spend all day playing the board game Risk, at first rolling the die, gathering an army here, an army there, joking with one of your best, oldest friends, "Ha, Meg, what if we're totally not friends after this and you divorce Eric? Haha, that's so implausible and funny." Cut to eight hours, one Thanksgiving dinner, a case of Coors Light and a bottle of whiskey later, and you're screaming at her, "Meg, I told you I'd leave you alone in Kamchatka if you'll just put pressure on Eric in Iceland! You can't expect me to fight on two fronts while you peter around North America like some half-assed expansionist empire seducing the natives with smallpox blankets and calling it a holiday! For Chrissake, he's gonna have Europe, and he's already knocking on the door of Ural. God, I hate Thanksgiving."

RedEye special contributor Stephen Markley is the author of "The Great Dysmorphia" and "Publish This Book."

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