Thanksgiving in Sunnydale

Urgh. Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday. As much as I support murder when it involves electrocuting and burning alive your tormentors on prom night, murdering an indigenous people in order to swipe their real estate is kind of douchey. Maybe it’s me but I’m not convinced that the yam with marshmallow dish everyone keeps raving about is all that delicious either. Plus there’s the Kindertrauma holiday post dilemma to worry about. I really don’t want to resort to that phony ELI ROTH trailer.

What I finally decided to do was just share with you a yearly ritual of mine, which is watching the BUFFY THE VAMIRE SLAYER episode “Pangs.” This particular episode of BUFFY takes place on Thanksgiving and although it’s hardly the strongest in the series, it does provide me with a certain amount of comfort. “Pangs” involves Indian warriors coming back to life through magical means to avenge their people. Like I just attempted, Wicca witch Willow makes comments condemning mass genocide but it sounds less annoying coming from her because she is a girl. It may not be BUFFY’s shiniest hour, but it is the only hour of hers that involves turkeys, syphilis ad somebody turning into a bear.

While watching “Pangs” this year I started thinking about my long history with Buffy and, as I did, a memory resurfaced that, as it turns out, specifically involves Thanksgiving. Picture it. Philadelphia, mid-nineties, your Unk is living far from home and all of his so-called pals have other plans for the holiday that don’t include him. One friend, let’s call him “Spike” was in the same gravy boat so plans were made that we would spend Thanksgiving together. It should be noted that I may have had a thing for “Spike” at the time. In fact, I know I did because he had a physical impairment and was morbidly self-involved and I know that’s how I rolled back then. So I cooked, I cleaned and I stocked the fridge with suds. Spike never showed though, he called me very late from a bar and he said he’d be there soon and then he STILL never showed. Cram a yam, I got stood up!

The toasty festive atmosphere began to curdle rapidly. The universe was pouring vinegar in my eggnog. I don’t know why it hit me so hard. Why was the carpet not only pulled out from under me but also set on fire and placed over my head? A giant black vortex opened in the wall and tried to suck me through it. My instantly massive loneliness crushed down like a cartoon anvil. There I was, by myself, during a national holiday with an excess of alcohol and nothing to do but stew. Eventually my depression grabbed me by the nape of my neck and led me to the only fire escape not guarded by demonic trolls, the television…

I caught on to BUFFY early in its run but somewhere I had lost it. I must have hallucinated that I had more pressing things to do. Suddenly, it was the only thing on T.V. and I had no idea what was going on in the series by now but I was going to watch it anyway. The episode was from the third season and it was called “Amends.” In it, Angel, the cursed vampire, is worn down with guilt and remorse to the degree that he goes to a hillside to await the sunrise so he can turn to dust. He has decided the world would be better off without him so why not? Buffy confronts him and tells him everybody goes through the same crap and screws up all the time and the important thing to do is just fight and most of all, that she’s got his back (or something to that effect.) Talking Angel off the ledge takes too long though and with dawn breaking it doesn’t seem like he’ll make it indoors to safety in time. Then something happens, the sun won’t be rising at all (Did I mention it’s Christmas?) because for the first time ever in fictional Sunnydale’s history, it’s starting to snow…

I’m a lame-o and a light touch and snow is my Achilles heel forever. There I was munching down on mega melancholia and I just happened to stumble upon this cure. I wasn’t so much moved as transferred to the other side of the psychological globe. That night’s episode of BUFFY ended in the same way as that night’s episode of UNKY, with divine intervention. I wasn’t depressed at all anymore; I had a new favorite show.

After that I fanatically and ravenously caught up with all of the episodes of BUFFY I had missed and followed it to its (sob) conclusion in 2003. (My viewing of “Amends” did not take place during its original airing but during a repeat marathon of sorts.) I guess it might make more sense to watch that fateful episode “Amends” this time of year rather than “Pangs” but the latter fits in more with where I’m at today. The characters on BUFFY became my friends and family during a time when I really was for the most part alone in the world and watching them gather for Thanksgiving is strangely like gathering alongside them. I’m almost ashamed to admit this (and by almost I mean not really) but for a while I was consciously aware of the show surpassing the real world in importance to me. If you are a nerd with a favorite show you either know what I mean or are not as much as of a nerd as you think you are.

This post is a toast, a toast to my make believe family I guess. This Thanksgiving I give thanks to the Scoobies, for always being just a play button away.

So, what happened with that dude “Spike,” the guy who left me at the cranberry sauce alter, high and dry on a cold night staring at a room temperature bird? I forgave him. While I’m talking about being thankful I might as well go that extra, after-school-special mile and talk about forgiveness too. I know carrying a grudge is more fashionable but I’m thankful that I ended up letting bygones be bygones. A year or so later he made “amends” and introduced me to Aunt John.

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12 years ago

From another Buffy fan to another. I greatly appreciated this story. It was sweet and of course it has a happy ending. Oh, how I do love this show. It will always be my favorite.

12 years ago

at the risk of being booed off kindertrauma forever i have to say that i’ve never seen buffy – and never wanted to till a friend of mine who just watched the whole thing raved about it to me (i’m still baffled – but am considering checking it out from the library sometime soon).

but my go to (albeit not horror themed), feel-good show is Rhoda. What with all the weight fluctuations, self deprecating humor and man troubles it always makes me feel all cozy inside. i don’t remember a thanksgiving episode – but it has a great new years eve episode with a super lame party!

12 years ago

This is officially my favorite Kindertrauma post ever. Thank you for sharing… And congrats!

12 years ago

I can definitely relate, Unk. I was downright obsessively in love with ‘Buffy’ when I was a teenager and the show significantly helped me survive this awkward and perilous time of my life. The Scoobies became my fictional friends away from Reality Land, too, and I had a huge crush on Faith, the evil Slayer from season 3. (What can I say? I have a thing for bad girls.) Unfortunately, the show has somewhat lost its magic, now that I am a so-called “adult.” While I can still enjoy the witty dialogues and loveable characters, the dated special effects and some of the more outlandish plots have become a bit too campy for my taste. I blame it on growing up.

Still, ‘Buffy’ will always occupy a very special place in my nostalgic heart. I heard about the remake earlier this week and I don’t really know what to make of it yet. It’s not a good sign that Joss Whedon isn’t involved, but it’s way too early to condemn the whole thing. I mean, it can’t possibly turn out any worse than the first ‘Buffy’ movie, right?

… Right?

Tommy V
12 years ago

Thanks to your recommendation years ago I started watching Buffy on Netflix streaming. I also started watching Angel, in order during season 4 to keep up with the crossovers. One night I watch Buffy, the next I watch Angel.

I have just started Season 5 of Buffy and Season 2 of Angel. I am so glad I’ve been able to do this and thankful for Netflix streaming that I’m able to do it on my schedule and at a more than reasonable cost.

I am amazed at the ability of the show to balance the fantastic with the sincere. The only thing I ever want in my stories is emotional honesty. The fact that Buffy and Angel do this within the world they have created is nothing short of brilliant.

Thank you for pushing me to watch them.

Spooky Sean
12 years ago

Happy Thanksgiving!!!
By the way, I totally know what you mean about shows becoming more important than real life.
The X Files has consistently been more important to me then real life, many times.

M Kitka
M Kitka
11 years ago

I am newly in love with KINDERTRAUMA (& newly out of the closet as a horror-fan) & I had to register to belatedly reply to this post as I work my way backwards through the archives.

It’s this utterly bold & sweet heart-on-the-sleeve post that is the final puzzle-piece to complete my total adoration of this site. Not that every entry isn’t bold, sweet and heart-on-the-sleeve (and funny!) — why else would I love it — but I just want to express gratitude for the openness that makes this entry, and this site, so completely lovable. Also, props on the writing chops! Color me impressed! 😛