Today must be a big business day for the makers of Tums.
Hopefully, you will have awoken from your turkey-induced coma to read this column in some capacity, but if not, enjoy your slumber, as the hectic holiday season has begun.
Thanksgiving is my favorite day of gluttony of the year. Being Italian, I like to eat. I do agree that a good home cooked meal can pretty much cure any ailment, or at least make you so full that you don’t care that you are feeling below average. I like my meals being served in wheelbarrows full of starchy goodness and never-ending excess. I’m not sure how it is at your house, but at my Thanksgiving table, excessive is an understatement.
It brings on my favorite nap of the year, and now that I think of it, the only nap that my wife doesn’t get mad at me for.
Sure, the “to and from” your holiday destination always sucks. Traffic sucks, gas prices suck, and if you are mental enough to go to the malls on Black Friday, suck is a word that doesn’t even capture the entire scope of how that day might be my idea of what hell is.
Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas season, even though stores have had Christmas decorations up for a few weeks now. After you wake up from your turkey coma, you have to put that holiday cheer on your face, your reindeer sweaters out of the closet, and your credit card out of your wallet.
It’s commerce time, and creativity in the month of December is trying to figure out something that you can get your loved ones so they don’t smile politely and return them the Dec. 26.
Yet, as much as Thanksgiving is the beginning of the Christmas madness, you have to remember that the holiday is more than just butchered turkeys, candied yams, Dallas Cowboy football and uncomfortable dinner moments with the in-laws.
The story of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans sitting down to a nice meal has been a bit skewed over the centuries. To think that a bunch of Puritans that came to a foreign land would be welcomed with open arms by a race of people that was extremely primitive and secluded is a bit too naïve for my liking, or anyone’s that asks a follow-up question when they are fed (no pun intended) information.
There are many myths about Thanksgiving. First off, the first one didn’t happen on the fourth Thursday of November in 1621. The original one happened somewhere between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11. The feast was the Indian’s custom, as the settlers, being so religious, did not practice such secular celebrations of dancing, singing, and breaking bread with their loved ones. The pilgrims were not dressed in the perceived Black and White attire equipped with buckles, as buckles didn’t come into fashion until the late 17th century, and black and white was only worn on Sundays (again a religious belief). The real look of the pilgrims was more like what you would see at a Phish or a Grateful Dead show: tattered earth tones.
I guess the point of this is that I don’t necessarily have a problem with tradition, but rather the perception that the way the story is told is gospel truth. It’s like that game where you tell someone a secret, and they go down the line and tell the same secret. By the time it gets to the end, it is almost never the original secret or story.
I think that history is very similar. When reading or listening to historical events, you have to not only take in the information, but you have to remember whom is telling you the story.
I’m sure that there are those that are celebrating the beginning of some sense of America when the settlers and Indians broke bread together for the first time, but Thanksgiving has come to represent getting together with family and sitting down to a nice meal, and being thankful for being in each other’s lives (at least what we say.)
Family is a weird thing. It’s forever, through good and bad, and no matter what is said or not said, done or not done, you still have to love them because family is everything. I’ve watched enough mob movies to know that family is the one untouchable entity in everyone’s life. Thanksgiving, more so than any other holiday, is a set aside day to get together and just eat too much, exchange witty anecdotes and hang out in a setting that isn’t a wedding or a funeral.
Truly, it is good to sit down with people that knew you when you had no money or you weren’t whatever sense of yourself that you now project to the world. Your family remembers when you worked as a pencil salesman or got arrested in high school for spray-painting the water tower, and they don’t judge you. That makes the drive worth it in itself.
The Thanksgiving table is a place in theory to just let all the “faking it till you make it” parts of our lives sit in the car for a few hours. Instead, how often do we try to sell our families a story of how well we are doing?
Perhaps keeping in mind the whole idea of history and how it changes over time, we should be thankful for what we have and where we’ve gotten while remembering that we haven’t always been in this position.
It’s a perspective that is stepping back from the madness rather than getting caught up in it.
Christmas has become a juggernaut of commerce, an earthquake of activity and movement, and is pretty much a loss when it comes to looking back and spending what truly could be considered quality time with loved ones.
The food alone at Thanksgiving, and the quantities of it, make us so immobile that we have lots of time to spend actually talking and enjoying relationships, instead of just wondering what you are going to buy them in a few weeks.
Life is too short to not tell the people that have always been there how’ve they’ve shaped your adult life. Take the time to tell them that even though every family has skeletons, you are thankful that you aren’t the Osbournes, or the Spears’ or even the Osmonds.
Thanksgiving is a time for putting things in perspective, laughing about the skewed memories of family history, and taking a long much needed nap.
And if that’s too much to stomach, I recommend Tums.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.