5 things you need to know Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day means homes filled with the scent of roasting turkey and warming pies, family and friends gathering to feast — and maybe argue over politics. Overall, this year’s Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be the busiest ever for U.S. carriers. More than 27 million passengers — a record for the holiday — were expected to fly on U.S. airlines worldwide between Nov. 18 and Nov. 29. As you gather with friends and family, beware the calories: the average American will consume, on average, a whopping 4,500 of them. On the bright side, Thanksgiving dinner will cost a little less this year. If you are having a turkey emergency, these hotlines and websites are here to help. If you need something apolitical and hilarious to talk about at the table, tell your relatives about the Arizona grandmother who texted the wrong teen an invite to Thanksgiving dinner. The story, complete with grandma emoji, went viral earlier this month. Afraid to talk politics? This why you shouldn't be. Here's a look at Thanksgiving by the numbers.

While that turkey roasts away, let's have a parade!

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,which is marking its 90th year, begins at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday. Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker of NBC's Today show will host the broadcast. Balloons, floats, marching bands and festive performances make the annual spectacle in Manhattan a must-watch for millions of Americans. Among the dozens of celebrities participating (Olympian Laurie Hernandez, singer Sarah McLachlan and The Muppets, to name a few) will be the man in red himself: Santa Claus, who rides the parade route on his sleigh. This is how the parade got started nine decades ago.

What's happening with the Trump transition to the White House

Donald Trump will spend Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. "Hopefully he’s eating some turkey,” spokesman Jason Miller told reporters earlier this week. “This will be time to get together with family and have a brief break in the action.” Since the election, Trump has been meeting with advisers, officials, well-wishers, and those hoping to join his Cabinet. Miller wouldn't say if meetings were planned at Mar-a-Lago. Vice President-elect Mike Pence will spend the holiday in Mississippi, where his son — a Marine — is stationed. President Obama, meanwhile, will celebrate Thanksgiving at the White House.

Lions, Cowboys and Colts, oh my! Three NFL games on tap

The Detroit Lions will play an NFC North rival in their annual Thanksgiving Day game for the third time in four years. The Lions will host the Minnesota Vikings at 12:30 p.m. ET (CBS). The Vikings and Lions both enter the game 6-4, but the Lions currently lead the division. The game is the first of a turkey day tripleheader: Next up is a rivalry game, when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins play for a pivotal win in the NFC East playoff picture (4:30 p.m. ET, Fox). The final game of the day is the Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC). Neither team can afford another loss in the AFC playoff race. Here's how to watch.

Like it or loathe it, the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season is here

Many retailers bumped up their Black Friday deals a day early, and a number of stores will be open Thursday for your shopping pleasure. The trend of being open on Thanksgiving Day gained momentum in 2011 and has continued as chains try to steal share in a market that’s not growing much, though it’s taken a punch out of Black Friday sales. The move is controversial, as many workers complain stores are putting profits ahead of workers' time to be with families. The country's largest shopping mall, The Mall of America, took a bold step and will be closed Thursday. Here's a list of the retailers that will be closed and the ones that will be open Thanksgiving Day.

And the essentials:

Stocks: The stock market is closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.

TV Tonight: Wondering what to watch tonight? TV critic Robert Bianco looks at Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna on PBS and The Wonderful World of Disney Magical Holiday Celebration on ABC

Be inspired: He's already donated his harvest, now this farmer is building a large farm in the city.

Most popular: See our top stories in one nightly digest on Facebook Messenger.

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