It’s my favorite week of the year.

My parents always hosted Thanksgiving when I was a kid. My dad cooked, while I watched football with my uncles and cousins. Eventually, Tara and I bought the larger house (with the better kitchen), and we’ve hosted for 16 years since.

Now, I do all the cooking, notwithstanding a soup or appetizer my sister brings along. Nobody else cleans up, either. I don’t like people touching things in my kitchen. I know where everything goes.

The whole process starts far in advance. I ordered our fresh turkey last Sunday and jarred a batch of pickled eggs and beats on Wednesday. I buy the non-perishable ingredients weeks ahead of time, lest I run into empty shelves at the grocery store this weekend. 

Of course, the turkey is the star of the show. It’ll go into the brine (wet) Tuesday, then into the garage fridge on Wednesday, uncovered to let the skin dry, then into the oven at 8 am Thursday morning, breast side down. No, I don’t inject it or stuff it or fry it or smoke it. I’m sure your way is awesome. You, do you.

The sides don’t change: Mashed potatoes with a ton of roasted garlic, stuffing, creamed spinach, creamed corn, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cole slaw, and pan gravy. There’s butter. Lots and lots of butter. 

I’ll make the spinach, corn, cole slaw, and green beans Wednesday night to save time, whilst drinking wine. Noelle will make a pie or cheesecake. We’ll listen to Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton, the Wood Brothers, and Susan Tedeschi. Always the same.

Throughout the process, I’ll text with an eclectic mix of buddies – all going through their own Thanksgiving dinner prep. My musician friend Matt, my childhood friend Craig, my golfing buddy Jason. We’ll send photo updates, compare notes, and joke about how much we drank. 

On Thursday, Tara and the girls will wake up to watch the Macy’s parade, leaving me in my laboratory. My sister and her family will roll in around noon. We eat on the early side – around 2 – which allows plenty of time for leftovers before bed. Again, always the same. 

There’ll be nine of us total, downsized from twice that many before my dad died and my mom moved away. My Aunt Nancy’s family used to come. It’s about the only thing that changed over all these years.

Friday morning, I’ll grab my dog and head to our cabin for another annual ritual. I won’t be writing to you next weekend.

Like clockwork. Just the way I love it.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Fewer people plan to shop next weekend, but the generational dynamics may surprise you. The percentage of U.S. adults who intend to participate in any of the Thanksgiving weekend shopping events – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. – is down 4 points from last year, further highlighting a more reserved consumer as the weeks tick by. Maybe the biggest headline in the data, however, is the extent to which Gen Z expects to shop in-store next weekend versus online. We saw this trend emerge last year as well, though not as stark. When you spend the rest of your life on your phone, the in-store events are quite the novelty.

The eagerness of younger shoppers isn’t without its consequences, however. As the logic-defying, years-long resiliency of U.S. consumers finally begins to wane (exactly like we told you it would), Gen Z and younger Millennials are giving it one final gasp. But it’s not because they can afford it. What could possibly go wrong? 

Homeschooling is all the rage. Bucking the popular narrative that quarantine schooling was a nightmare for children and parents alike, it seems that many families saw a light. In our 3 Things to Know this week, we looked at how the popularity of homeschooling has surged since peak-COVID…although safety concerns likely contributed as well. We also found waning interest in Donald Trump’s civil trial and rising price sensitivity among commercial airline flyers. 

The difference between Republicans and Democrats today is a fascinating social experiment. You may have noticed over the years how our Consumer Financial Health Index and our Well-Being Index tend to follow similar patterns. It makes sense. Financial worries cause stress, and a plentitude of money does, indeed, often buy happiness. But we also remind people that any single line on a chart is always a sum – or an average — of disparate parts. The preview of our new Election Mindset Tracker is a perfect example of what I call “The Cocktail Effect.” Democrats right now have a much more positive view of their financial circumstances but far more negative feelings about their emotional health. Republicans, vice versa. It provides a powerful clue of what will motivate different groups at the ballot box next year.

From the Department of Incongruous Sports Analogies, Amazon should have a homerun on its hands with Black Friday football. The people responsible for the giant pile of cardboard boxes in my basement had the clever idea of broadcasting the NFL’s first-ever Black Friday matchup next week, available to anyone with an Amazon account – regardless of whether they subscribe to Prime Video – along with special promotional shopping deals for viewers. Fan interest is super high, particularly among users of other streaming platforms. Smart. 

More awesomeness from the InsightStore™:

  • The importance of gathering for Thanksgiving is up this year, stuffing remains atop the list of favorite sides, and other key Turkey Day insights;
  • Plans to shop at dollar stores for the holidays are growing, but big box retailers reign supreme;
  • The PlayStation 5 will be a popular gift this year;
  • Aerie customers shop online to save time, more than money, and two other insights.
  • Express customers care a lot about brand social consciousness and other stuff;
  • Memoir and biography readers prefer classic rock, care about climate change, and 3 other insights.

The most popular questions this week:

Answer Key: 4th; See above; 9 am Bloody Mary’s; Prime Day; Yeah, but not anymore. 

Hoping you’re well.


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