Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving. Yuck.

Thanksgiving is upon us. I never liked it much. It joins the list of other holidays I never liked much. We don't celebrate Labor Day because my husband always has to work on Labor Day. We don't celebrate Veterans' Day because I'm a pacifist and it weirds me out. I don't celebrate Columbus Day because I think celebrating imperialism and genocide is gauche. Likewise, I'm not into Thanksgiving. Kind of a crappy holiday, don't you think? First off, we have the historically insensitive Pilgrims and Indians theme and since, as I've mentioned before,I'm not into a celebrating genocide, I'm not about to give my children a sanitized version of history. This makes sharing the story of the first Thanksgiving an exercise in perennial liberal rage.

And I'm not especially thankful this time of year. It isn't that I'm not thankful, it is just that I'm not especially thankful in November and I see no need to pretend that I am. You can't make me be thankful. (This gives me the same morbidly violent sensations I feel when some chipper person says to me, "Smile!")

The entire thing smacks of corporate and political manipulation. I don't want your damn candy corn nor your cornucopias made in China. I'm not interested in nationalism, or patriotism, or jingoism, or candied yams. And if I didn't spend time with friends and family earlier in the year, there was probably a reason.

It isn't that I'm against a celebration of plenty. I'm all into folk traditions. I enjoy ancient holidays arising out of the natural and agricultural cycles, but here in NY, harvest is well over. My family and I celebrate the harvest in August which is much more timely and therefore much more satisfying.

And then there's the whole "Turkey Day" thing which offends me as a vegan. You can imagine that as a pacifist vegan Pagan, I'm not so much into the butchering of living creatures to celebrate the implantation of the genocidal Calvinists into New England.

We could do Tofurkey. But then the other problem with Thanksgiving is the whole gender issue. Being female, I've watched the women in my family knock themselves out every year trying to make everyone happy. The house has to be clean. Everything must sparkle. The tablecloth and the center piece and the matching dishes for a bazillion surly, aggravating, conservative relatives who will not notice either the table cloth or the centerpiece but who will make a comment about my diet, my clothes, my child rearing style, and my politics. In the end, some long-suffering female person who normally is a community activist or a scholar will break down. "Oh my God! I've forgotten the effing squash!" No one needs that.

What is going on with this holiday that turns us into bitchy monsters? We're thankful so that means that the women work like servants all day so the men can sit around and fart? No. I don't think so.

And it isn't like the men want us to act like servants. It isn't like they even care. They would be completely content to have us join them in the farting and football watching. My husband, who insists on traditional food, is just as happy if it comes out of the box and if he's the one who prepares it. He doesn't care if I made the pie from scratch. The guys didn't ask for our servile behavior and obsessive compulsive interest in making the perfect cranberry sauce (which no one will eat anyway). We bring that on ourselves. Each year, generations of women who normally could giving a cooking gather together to just "whip together" a banquet which of course stresses us out beyond our capacity for rational thought. Somehow, despite generations of feminist sentiment, we revert to this Victorian angel of the home mentality on holidays which can only carry us so far before we begin making snide comments to each other regarding who is doing the most work and whether or not the carrots are cut in the proper manner.

Imagining our sensitive, feminist husbands as Neanderthals who don't appreciate our domestic labor, we scurry around the house yelling at children who leave toys around. Happy frickin' Thanksgiving. Pick up your toys! Were you brought up in a barn?! And where is your father?! Then, in a paroxysm of martyrdom, we drag ourselves into the living area, flushed from the hard work of cooking and yelling at children to talk to the farting men as if they are infants, or as if they hated us or why would sit there farting when the effing squash is missing g@ddammit! And it doesn't matter anyway because I can't eat any of this because I'm so fat. I'm fat, right? You can tell me. You think I'm fat, don't you!? Bastard.

So some time ago, we decided that as rational human beings (most of the time anyway) with college educations and concerns that move us way, way beyond our kitchens, we would make peace with Thanksgiving and our remaining bewildering gender issues by ordering take-out food. We used to order Chinese take-out but now all the restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving. Now what will be do? Here's my solution to the entire holiday. I say screw Thanksgiving! Let's just skip it.

(The above is an exaggeration. We don't really ever get the house sparkling clean).


Anonymous said...

I used to feel this way about Thanksgiving, too! Work yourself to death to make too much food and enjoy a beautiful table for 2 minutes before the fighting starts. Fun, fun, fun.

Now I have kids we go camping instead. 3rd year this year. We do it the easy way, staying in a heated cabin with wifi. The kids were so happy last year they spontaneously broke into giving thanks when we started eating our relatively simple meal. I enjoy it now.
Blessings for you and yours this weekend.

Morgaine said...

**rolling on the floor** We don't skip it, but we don't celebrate it, either. Our gratitude must be genuine or not be displayed at all, around here. And while my education has taken much of my time away from the kitchen, the witch part of me insists on standing often over the cauldron. LOL! I have all boys...does that tell you how much farting happens around my living room? If they ventured into the kitchen, the oven would likely explode (that is, unless they're taking out the trash, or fixing themselves a snack, or peeling potatoes, or something constructive). I don't have anything for or against the conventional holidays; except they tend to encourage me to NOT venture out past my own stoop. All those busy bodies running to and fro; I just can't abide it. And for what? If anyone wants to see me on holidays, they know where to find me -- but if they clog my driveway, they'd best expect to have a dishrag placed in their hands because my house has a ban on paper towels. Makes it really adventurous for some who feel bad mussing up a cloth napkin that my grandmother mussed as did her mother and daughter.

And if they don't like vegan dishes, they may only have one thing on their plates most nights...their forks. We aren't vegans; as coastal inhabitants we do consume the bounty of the sea. But I have a hobby now of making the rounds to my vegan friends' homes during the week. The food is divine [and as I usually remind my husband, if I had known all these years that grown persons would faint of fright from the thought/sight of a vegan meal, I'd have been chasing them all these years with carrots and cucumbers instead of wooden spoons and cue sticks.]

Yuck is right. But we'll be trudging up in the mountains through the snowy hills tomorrow. Yes, that is how we'll show our gratitude for the conventions and bustling holiday. ;-)

Hystery said...

I wrote this last year or the year before and didn't get around to posting it. For the longest time, we did actually just order Chinese food but now we're back to tofurkey and mushroom gravy. It will just be the eight of us this year so not such a big deal, thank goodness. Honestly, this all happens because I live with the extended family and the elders are used to celebrating the holiday. One must make concessions to the grandparents who really are good sports to endure vegan/vegetarian holidays for the past twenty years.

My real Thanksgiving is in August which is a more appropriate time to celebrate harvest and family since we're actually harvesting stuff and the family has gathered to salute the cabbage (and the Canadians whenever they bother to show up with their bagpipes.)

Norea from NTF said...

"(and the Canadians whenever they bother to show up with their bagpipes.)"

Er. That would have been October, not August, as I've been reminding Friends I correspond with. :-D (Sorry, I left my bagpipes in my other life.)

I've got a different relationship to the secular holidays, unfortunately, which may be a deal-breaker between me and the Friends; having always been banned from having them all, with the exception of Thanksgiving (although the Calvinistic imperialism was, strangely, played up as a positive by the cult), I now tend to celebrate them just to be in step with the rest of the world (and with the Solstices -- although the Christian relatives get funny if I mention that) after having been isolated from it for so long.

This also meant being isolated from biological family as well, so any excuse to gather around a meal after the isolation, was always gladly taken.

Canadians don't much play up the pilgrims part of Thanksgiving, though, and Social Studies tended to talk about the fur trade and the treaties, instead of the mythology, when I was in school. Due to family circumstances, we don't do Thanksgiving anymore, though.

As I read on a Pagan blog recently, "Why Thanksgiving? Harvest season - three months long!" is much more my speed these days, anyway. :-)

Hystery said...


Our Canadian bagpipers arrive in August in kilts and party loudly into the night. We love them. We stand by the road and wave Canadian flags. People go cabbage bowling and eat sauerkraut cake. Small towns are wonderful.

I don't like the American secular/patriotic holidays and pretty much ignore them except for Thanksgiving which clings to me like a stink. I do have plenty of religious holidays that I've fashioned out of my Christian/Pagan background. We celebrate the Celtic ones (although in our own way) and we celebrate Yule/Christmas from Dec. 6 to Jan. 6. As a Quaker, I believe that all days are holy. As a Pagan, I know that some of them are a bit more magickal. ;-)

Christine said...

Oh my freaking God, THANK YOU for putting my feelings on this whole three month sham into words!! And making me laugh in the process.

Hystery said...



Finally Spring

My kids and I planted bulbs today.  What a difference one week makes!  The spring warmth has brought everyone outdoors.  People are walking ...