When you spend as much time in the car as I do, driving the same route at least twice a day every day, your mind tends to wander and think of the craziest shit. My latest think-fest involves Thanksgiving as a holiday.
I don’t get Thanksgiving. I don’t understand why we celebrate it anymore. I don’t understand anything about it. It is like Columbus Day in my mind, a day most people agree should no longer be a federal holiday for many reasons. I would argue that Thanksgiving is the same though. It is a day where, in theory, we are giving thanks for the Pilgrims immigrating to these shores and taking advantage of the hospitality of Native Americans, who we later betrayed in as violent and brutal a fashion as we possibly could. Good times. Plus, I feel that the Pilgrims brought plenty of other problems with them in addition to their treatment of Native Americans. For a group that left a country due to religious persecution, they were pretty damn intolerant of anyone who did not think like them. This intolerance trickled into society in a way that leaves us where we are today – with the old, white, and wealthy trying to maintain all the power and making decisions that benefit them rather than anyone else. Why do I want to celebrate a group that left one country because they could not practice their beliefs without repercussions only to have them settle and apply the same hatred and punishments to those who do not exercise their beliefs? I don’t. Do you?
When I ask people about this, they say it is all about the food. Let’s look at that for a moment. The traditional Thanksgiving meal – turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, yeasty rolls with butter, cranberry sauce, some form of gourd dish, and a whole lot more – has nothing to do with what the Pilgrims ate all those years ago. We should be eating fish, shellfish, deer, duck or goose. There was no yeast bread. There was no butter. No cheese. No gravy. No potatoes. So what exactly are we celebrating with the “traditional” meal? One could say it is about the harvest, but aren’t we doing that pretty much all summer long as various vegetables and fruits hit their peak? Even if it is a day to celebrate food, why does it need to be a turkey with multiple sides?
Furthermore, why do you need one day to celebrate food? For those of us blessed with the means to afford food, should we not celebrate each meal we have no matter what it is? When so many go hungry, isn’t Thanksgiving a bit of a slap in the face to those who cannot afford even the most basic of food? It seems a selfish holiday from that aspect, as we all gloat about our groaning tables and glut ourselves on more food than some families will see in a year.
Other people told me it is about spending time with family. Even with this idea, I question its validity. Everyone I know makes some joke or other about needing help to get through the day with their family. Between the jokes, the memes, and the general discussion of impossible family members, it would appear as if spending time with our family is the last thing any of us want to do. So why do we? If the holiday were all about spending time with family, why does everyone complain about doing so? Why are there so many “life hacks” about surviving the holidays with your family? Couldn’t you spend another day with your family? Birthdays? Anniversaries? Sunday dinners? Or better yet, spend the day with the people you love and WANT to hang out with for a few hours. Why do we force ourselves to be miserable just because someone tells us it is traditional?
So yeah, I don’t understand Thanksgiving. I can see it kicking off the holiday season, but really, I think Black Friday/Thursday do a better job of that than turkey and stuffing. We should be giving thanks for all that we have in our lives all year long, not on one day. We should be grateful for each bite of food we take no matter what day it is because there are too many people around the world who have nothing. As for the holiday itself, well, I think our society is wiser and more culturally aware these days. I don’t understand why we celebrate it anymore, at least in the traditional sense. As a holiday, Thanksgiving makes no sense to me.