A few words about the US Thanksgiving Day:
By tradition and an act of Congress, Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday of November every year. It was made official in 1863 at a time in US history when the USA was in great need of being prompted to be thankful, for a bloody civil war was threatening to destroy the nation. But it was also a harvest festival meant to recall the legend of the first harvest by the “Pilgrims” in 1621 in New England.
A couple of things have dulled the edge of Thanksgiving. In particular are the facts that statistically few Americans actually have a harvest, an even more minute percentage of the population can trace their heritage back to those religious exiles, and the event being commemorated was actually the beginning of an invasion of North America and the dislocation or destruction of almost everybody who lived there.
Still, the turkey dinner day survives. A gay friend in San Francisco calls it his favorite holiday. It was one of mine, too, when I was growing up. I can, I think, still recall the smell of the roasting bird stuffed with sage dressing.
Maybe I should just eschew my scruples and ignore my notion that Thanksgiving, like so much of the patriotic culture of my homeland is fabrication which camouflages realities and inflates nostalgia about nonsense. Maybe I should just forget that the Cherokee nation was cheated out of everything and my ancestors did it, and everything we remember about the Pilgrims was wrong. But really, wild turkey is vastly overrated as a gastronomic treat. The corn and soybean harvest back home in mid-America was decimated by drought this year. America is again/still/always at war. Gay people are threatened with violence every day. What’s to celebrate?
Well, most Americans, by which we do not mean Canadians and somehow do mean Hawaiians, will ignore the big things and concentrate on closer blessings if they choose to be literal about giving thanks. We’ll select things to remember like the new baby, the drugs are working for Mom, Janet got accepted in Purdue…things like that. And then we’ll tuck into the hormone-bloated butterball turkey and the sage dressing by Chef Boyardee, just like the Pilgrims had on Plymouth Rock.
Or out here in Chiang Mai we might just move on toward Loy Kratong.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.