Black Friday has come to Louisiana, perhaps the busiest shopping day of the year. We hope that it’s a fruitful time for the merchants, as well as the bargain hunters who see today’s tsunami of sales as a contact sport worthy of the NFL.
If we’re thinking of football, it’s perhaps because Thanksgiving, and the days beyond it, have always been eventful opportunities to catch a few games from the couch. The only challenge, as far as we can see, will be keeping our eyes open.
Thanksgiving weekend is, quite possibly, the sleepiest weekend of the year. Some folks blame all that turkey. But last Thanksgiving, The Washington Post debunked the idea that the big bird we consume each holiday is a major sedative. “It’s true that turkey meat contains tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to produce serotonin — a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep,” Post science blogger Rachel Feltman told readers. “But so do other foods. Cheddar cheese actually has more tryptophan than turkey does, and you don’t conk out every time you eat grilled cheese (I hope).”
The real cause of holiday grogginess, Feltman reported, are all those carbs. Eating lots of stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweets makes the brain more vulnerable to tryptophan, so the chemical cocktail produced by the Thanksgiving menu is pretty tranquilizing. No wonder our eyelids grow heavy by the first quarter.
One can either fight the post-Thanksgiving slumber, as veterans of the holiday know, or embrace it. Rick Bragg is in the latter camp.
Bragg, an Alabama native who won a Pulitzer Prize at The New York Times, is back in his native state, where he teaches writing at the University of Alabama. The best of his Southern Living columns about life in Dixie have just been collected in “My Southern Journey,” and one of them deals with the vital issue of the post-Thanksgiving sleepfest. Bragg calls it “the year’s best nap.”
After the feast, once he settles into his big leather chair, it’s lights out for Bragg. “It is firm and soft at the same time,” he recalls, “and there is some kind of drug in it, I swear, that makes my chin droop and makes me begin to snore softly. The talk continues around me, and I would like to tell you what it is all about but of course I do not know. I just know I love the idea of it, of the stories being told with me and yet without me, at the same time. The old white dog sleeps, too, across the room.”
There are leftovers in the fridge today, and, if we are lucky, more sleep ahead — a small respite before December, the busiest month of the year.