Now it stands to reason that a cooking nonconformist such as myself would not be enthused about a holiday which is grounded in what goes on the table for one, all-encompassing meal. But my inability to baste a turkey is only the beginning of my objections to the holiday.
Now, this holiday is supposed to originate from the gathering of Indians and Pilgrims at a harvest feast to give thanks. I like that premise, but the longer history haters dig into it, the more we find that the gathering didn’t happen exactly as it was presented, but the foundation was good: we should be thankful for what we have.
My objection comes from the fact that we should always be thankful, rather than reserving one day a year for it. In addition, I think a better premise for it might be to do as John Steinbeck instructs us to in The Grapes of Wrath: help each other regardless of what we have. I wonder if sometimes God holds his head on Thanksgiving and says, “Okay, okay, so you’re thankful for your BMW and your vacation home on Maui. Now go out and feed a homeless person or house a refugee!” (Disclaimer: God has not actually told me this is what He thinks; it is merely my opinion.)
Of course, my biggest problem with Thanksgiving is the food. I could handle the hundreds of side dishes (spare me the green bean casserole, please), but the turkey has become a lethal weapon. It wasn’t bad enough that we had to rise before the sun was up or the chickens crowed to put the bird in the oven to rest quietly while we couldn’t. Now, we risk our lives by trying to deep fry the thing whole. If the fryer doesn’t blow up or catch fire, we are still risking cardiac arrest devouring all that deep-fried poultry! What has the world come to?
Thanksgiving’s location also causes me angst. I think every student in America would tell you a better location might be the end of May, celebrating school being out. And before you tell me that’s too close to Memorial Day, consider its location now. You are still drying out the bread for the Thanksgiving stuffing, when they start playing that Hershey’s Kisses commercial where they form a Christmas bell and chime out We Wish You a Merry Christmas. At least on Memorial Day, they could use a good meal after honoring our glorious dead. With Christmas so hard on the heels of Thanksgiving, we are in a two-month orgy of non-stop foods that will undo the hard work we do to care for our bodies the other ten months! No wonder January is such a big month for health clubs and exercise equipment!
Thanksgiving placed where it is also signals the official beginning of the shopping season. Black Friday hits like a punch between the eyes and every year (okay, maybe not so much this one), people will stand in cold lines waiting for stores to open early so that can get a deal on appliances they don’t need and Christmas trivia that will disappear before another year rolls around. We are still picking the turkey out of our teeth when we are bombarded with the heartfelt tearjerker commercials for everything from refrigerators to cars to coffee. And don’t even start me on the Christmas movies which start long before Thanksgiving and run non-stop on the same script…different names!
With all due respect to the turkey and the thanks and the family gatherings, I really can’t seem to raise much enthusiasm for the November notion of Thanksgiving. Let’s just remember to give thanks all year round and I think the original harvest gatherers will understand and a turkey will definitely thank you for it!