(This post was originally published in November, 2007. I must be getting so old that my brain is frozen -- I still feel the same way.)
By now the mass turkeycide is over and our kitchens are filled with plump, stuffed (tasteless) birds, oceans of gravy are undergoing their own private global warming, and millions of pies sit under ceramic covers, representing billions of sugar and fat calories yet to be consumed.
Our annual National Feast Day has arrived...one single day dedicated to collective gluttony, though it may masquerade as a Day of Thanks, or even the prelude to a weekend of football, family reunion and celebration.
As it does every year, I'm sure the news Thursday night will be chock full of stories of stranded travelers whose only goal in life (The Meal) has been thwarted by crowded skies and cold-hearted airlines. We'll view the standard video of Good Samaritans, giving up their own holiday to feed the homeless sixty kazillion pounds of turkey and potatoes.
Possibly somewhere, in an effort to highlight the obesity epidemic in the U.S., some news reporter will break down the typical dinner's calories for us, and we'll see more video of those faceless, jello-tummied people who are always used to illustrate these stories. This segment will, no doubt, be sandwiched in between recipes for pumpkin delight and turkey leftovers, or instructions on how to carve The Bird.
I'm equally sure that every 90 seconds commercial interruptions will disturb the Macy's parade, every football game and everything else aired on cable and satellite TV in order to hawk the beginnings of holiday sales. For that matter, I've already seen ads for department store openings at 4 a.m. Friday morning. That's even before the turkey et al will have had time to sail through our digestive processes!
Aaaarggghh!!! Can you tell Thanksgiving isn't one of my favorite holidays?
Never do I hear anything the least bit inspirational about truly giving thanks related to this day. It's all about food, airlines, food, discount sales, food, the impending holidays and the GNP, and more food.
I like tradition as much as the next person... maybe more, considering I'm Catholic and tradition is very big with us. (Show me any process or experience and I'll find a way to ritualize it every time.) There's just something about this particular tradition that rankles me. Maybe if I'd grown up in the Midwest, or maybe if my family had been larger, or closer...or maybe if I didn't dislike turkey or didn't feel guilty about eating pie...or if the traditional dinner didn't take so damn long to prepare and then disappear so quickly and leave such a MESS... maybe then I'd feel more positive about this day.
Frankly, Thanksgiving Day annoys me with its dishonesty and hypocrisy.
If this is truly a national day to give thanks, why isn't it for us religious-minded folk a huge church-going day like Christmas and Easter (are supposed to be)? For those not involved in religion, why isn't more emphasis placed on enumerating the incredible and very real blessings that we Americans enjoy as our assumed right?
If, perhaps, this thanks-giving is done at home with extended family around the bounty of a table laden with excess, this particular devotion is rarely, if ever mentioned or portrayed by our scrupulously secular media. (Of course, giving thanks implies Someone whom one is thanking. God forbid we acknowledge the existence of that Person, no matter what the historical origin of this holiday may be -- no matter what the Presidential Proclamation may say!)
If we made a list of the things we have to be thankful for and compared that list to one that a citizen of any third-world country might make...the contrasts would be both stunning and sickening.
But instead all we can find to do on this day is EAT? I just don't get it. I guess since Christmas and Easter have been corrupted into mostly commercial events, I shouldn't expect anything different from Thanksgiving Day. So shoot me with a bow and arrow for still being idealistic.
From my healthy and loving family and friends to the contentment of living in an abundance of silence and solitude, from the freedoms I enjoy that have been safeguarded through others' sacrifices to the embarrassing riches of my comfort-filled, peaceful life, I'm aware of my own personal blessings every single day. I think about them every day and (honestly) give thanks for them every day... and I surely don't need a dead bird in the oven to do it.
But, far be it that I flout hundreds of years of tradition... Happy Thanksgiving, Gentle Readers.
So...33 days until Christmas. Got gifts?