I've come to the conclusion that my favorite holiday may, in fact, be the day after Thanksgiving. It's not that I don't like Thanksgiving itself--I do, very much. I have no problem with the family project of putting on a huge meal, or with first-time-around mashed potatoes, or with well-loved stories tossed over my aunt's epic centerpieces. But, to me, the wreckage of the next day is even better: food and family, deliberately de-ceremonialized, is where the real fun happens.
My family does a Thanksgiving sleepover model--we're divided into Thanksgiving West in Santa Cruz and Thanksgiving East in New York, but both incarnations involve staying over, so that Black Friday is all about the morning-after sleep-in, leftover pie for breakfast, and hanging around the kitchen together. On the West Coast, we sometimes take a walk on the beach, or go downtown for lunch before everybody wanders home. It's more of each other than we've seen all year, usually, and there's time to talk and hang out and be who we are when it's not a major holiday. It's a good time.
This year, I went to Thanksgiving East, and spent Black Friday fighting a cold, but also sprawling on the couch with my brother, knitting, and assembling my Christmas list. We grazed on turkey sandwiches (cranberry + Grey Poupon for me; some kind of mayo thing for him). We hung out with my aunt and uncle. Eventually, we mustered the energy to leave the house and see Fantastic Mr. Fox; then we came home and sprawled some more and we all watched an old Poirot Mystery until bedtime. That's it. It was nothing, but it was great--it was us being together, with nothing else to do and nothing else expected of us, and that's a great holiday memory.
Plus, you know. Pie.