Writer Hanif Abdurraqib (author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us) on his Thanksgiving tradition:
every year on the wednesday before Thanksgiving, I watch The Last Waltz. I’ve been doing it since I was around 19 or 20, when everyone at my college would go home and I’d be kind of drifting. The Last Waltz became this really important marker for my autumn… The Last Waltz is a thanksgiving movie because the concert took place on thanksgiving, but it’s also really (at least to me) a film about the difficulties of working through long-held frustrations with people you’ve been tied to for so long that a love exists. It fits the season.
Abdurraqib wrote more about the tradition in an essay, and ranked the performances in the film. (His rankings have changed slightly.)
Steven Hyden (author of Twilight of the Gods) also has a yearly viewing tradition:
Every year around this time, I try to watch The Last Waltz at least once, in the way that people watch A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life whenever mid-December rolls around. I’ve come to regard The Last Waltz — and I preface this by offering sincere apologies to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles — as the greatest Thanksgiving movie ever. That’s not simply because The Last Waltz takes place on the holiday, but also because this film embodies what’s wonderful, horrible, hilarious, and moving about one of this country’s most sacred annual traditions, and how many of us manage to survive it. Other films have used Thanksgiving as a backdrop. But to me, The Last Waltz is Thanksgiving.
Me, I usually watch Son-In-Law, but after re-watching The Last Waltz in the studio this afternoon, I’m going to give it the headlining spot. Besides, I always need more of Van Morrison’s high kick in my life.
“Turn it up!”