Thanksgiving just can’t win.
First political correctness decided that the religious aspect had to go. Apparently you’re supposed to take care who you go around thanking these days.
Then the health freaks scared us out of those massive devil-may-care dinners that in that latter stages required the untying of the sweat pants. A dollop of turkey tofu atop a cranberry-artificially-flavored rice cake surrounded by three organically-grown spinach leaves and a vitamin water on the side just isn’t the same.
Most retailers abandoned Thanksgiving some time ago. Halloween swag flows straight into the Christmas stuff, which was already out in September.
I checked YouTube. There’s a billion Halloween songs, and about two for Thanksgiving - a goofy novelty tune by Adam Sandler and and old Johnny Cash rap. There are Christmas movies up the wazoo, (thank you so much Hallmark channel) but scarcely anything with you-know-what.
You can’t even get a good geeky controversy going for this holiday, like a being dissed by Starbucks.
Thanksgiving is in the witness protection program of holidays. It needs a good PR campaign - merch, a movie deal, them song, a mascot, something.
“Black Friday” has become way more of a happening than Thanksgiving. When you’re getting beat by a day with the color of Darth Vader and sulky goth teenagers’ outfits in it, you know your holiday status is hurting.
Remember those Thanksgiving turkeys you used to make in school by tracing your hand - the thumb serving as Tom’s head and the rest of the fingers as his tailfeathers? Such things are considered archaic now. How do you plug these crayon thingies into the USB port? What do parents stick up on their refrigerators these days, their kids’ latest Twitter post?
Pilgrims have lost their sex appeal somewhere along the line. Puritans just apparently don’t stack up all that well against Caitlyn Jenner and LeBron James.
And now, Discovery News reports that global warming may be the ruin of Thanksgiving food. They quote experts saying heat stress will soon make turkey taste like bat guano, and the pumpkins, sweet potatoes, green beans and other plant products associated with Thanksgiving dinner will be driven to extinction by climate change. I’m not buying it. Turkeys have been strolling around North America for 75 million or so years, and I’ve got five bucks that says they’ll still be here when we’re gone. (If I’m wrong, good luck collecting while you are extinct.)
Poor Thanksgiving. There’s a pretty good push in the pop culture to get rid of it as a holiday entirely. Angelina Jolie says it’s “disgusting” and refuses to celebrate a holiday that she says is all about one culture murdering another. Ouch - how would you feel if Angelina were repulsed by you? (Don’t answer that, she probably is.) Maybe she will adopt a poor turkey.
PETA’s even on the bandwagon, insisting the holiday is a “disgrace” because it is an excuse to chew on the animal kingdom. Several schools have banned it. There’s even a “Ban Thanksgiving” Facebook page. I wonder if there is a “Ban Facebook” Facebook page?
Even “history” is against it. Most of the knowledge on the first Thanksgiving is about as made-up as red-nosed reindeer and the Easter Bunny.
Thanksgiving wasn’t a Pilgrim day of giving thanks, they held many of those, which were spent praying. The first Thanksgiving was probably held in October as a harvest festival. There is only one account of the event, and it doesn’t mention turkey. No ovens, so no pumpkin pie, either. They did have venison brought by the natives, and probably duck, corn, cabbage, onions, squash and whatever seafood they could snag.
It is likely that the Wampanoeg people weren’t exactly invited. Their chief was probably allowed to attend, and perhaps for a show of force, brought 90 friends. Not a total Hallmark moment. They stayed for a week, just like your inlaws do.
Pilgrims didn’t land at Plymouth Rock, but at what is now Cape Cod. The rock thing was a tourism gimmick.
The Pilgrims didn’t wear those black formal outfits, chimney style hats and goofy giant belt buckles. Their everyday gear was colorful dyed clothing and wool stocking-style caps for the men, felt hats and scarves for women. They didn’t cart around a blunderbuss to hunt with, or they would have starved. They weren’t as dull and austere as we’re led to believe, either - they sang and danced and played games. The daily consumption of beer was prodigious, and they reportedly had quite a healthy outook on sexual activity.
They never called themselves Pilgrims, but “Separatists” doesn’t have much of a ring to it. Natives didn’t show up looking as history books like to show either - the headdresses and such belong to plains Indians, not eastern seaboard natives. Nor were they savages; at least two spoke English quite well when the Pilgrims first encounted them.
In fact, this event probably isn’t even the “first Thanksgiving” at all. El Paso, Texas; St. Augustine, Florida; and Richmond, Virginia all claim Thanksgivings long before the Mayflower arrived.
When George Washington proclaimed a national day of thanks, it had nothing to do with Pilgrims or turkey; but the successful establishment of the Constitutional government. When Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving, it was for preservation of the Union. Now Thanksgiving primarily marks the start of the shopping season, overeating, lopsided football games.
But at its heart, it is something we don’t do often enough - a chance to give thanks for all of our blessings.
That’s been worthwhile for 381 years, and still is.