Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Everything That's Wrong with Thanksgiving (Alissa Grosso)

I know from the anecdotal evidence offered up by social media posts that I'm in the minority on this, but I love Christmastime and am quite happy with the Christmas season beginning on November first. Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world who loves to hear a Christmas song playing in a store the day after Halloween, but I'm sure there must be more of us.

So, that's my first beef with Thanksgiving. It's timing is all wrong. It's this holiday that's awkwardly placed between Halloween and Christmas that gives people a reason to complain about seeing Christmas decoration in stores, even though, let's face it, Christmas decorations are pretty, happy and festive whereas Thanksgiving decorations are ugly as sin.

The second problem with Thanksgiving is that the story behind the holiday is, like much of this country's history, a whitewashed, rewritten version of what actually happened. European exploration and colonization of the Americas decimated the population of the region. Most of this decimation was completely inadvertent as European diseases wiped out a population that lacked the proper antibodies. Some of this decimation was deliberate with the European settlers maliciously gifting the locals with smallpox infected blankets or, in countless other cases, resorting to more violent means to murder the so-called Indians.

If, you're looking for a fascinating history book to properly get you in the Thanksgiving spirit, I suggest 1491 by Charles C. Mann.


So, anyway this glorious image we have of Pilgrims and Native Americans does sort of gloss over the fact that the Pilgrims were a bunch of religious extremists who invaded another country and were participants in one of the largest genocides in history.

Now, for the third thing that's wrong with Thanksgiving. The food. Thanksgiving is the only holiday where a meat dish is pretty much the focus of the holiday. It's so much a part of Thanksgiving that some people even refer to the holiday as Turkey Day. The way some people feel about hearing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on November first is how I feel about the phrase "Turkey Day."

I am a vegetarian for moral reasons. If you want to undersatnd why I don't consume dead animals, read Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason's The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals

This book convinced me to stop eating meat.

A lot of people in my life are carnivores, and I love them dearly, and I'm not the sort of vegetarian who reminds them how many animals had to suffer for the meals they consume. I don't wear a Tofu Saves Lives T-shirt to Thanksgiving dinner.
Still, I wish the holiday didn't revolve around the consumption of a dead animal. Ironically, Thanksgiving is a holiday that's filled with suitably delicious vegetarian food (except sweet potatoes - ugh, grossest vegetable ever!) thanks to it all being about celebrating the bountiful harvest, and harvests, as a rule, tend to be pretty vegetarian. But then there's the whole turkey element that fits with the rest of the holiday about as well as Thanksgiving fits in the calendar between Halloween and Christmas.

In closing I'll leave you with one more book recommendation. This one's suitable for all ages.


'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey  is a Thanksgiving picture book that even a vegetarian can appreciate, though, parents be warned, your kids may ask to skip the turkey this year after reading this tale, which is just fine by me.



3 comments:

  1. I enjoyed your unique perspective! You've prompted me to get started on 1491 which has been sitting on my to-read shelf for too long!

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  2. I'd be TOTALLY happy with a thanksgiving meal of only green bean casserole.

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  3. I am so dreading all the Thanksgiving stuff that will come up once my daughter starts school. Do you know they STILL do the whole hugely racist dress up as Pilgrims and Indians thing in our public schools? Because they do. Don't even know how I'm gonna handle that. Thanks for your book rec because I have been looking for Thanksgiving children's books that aren't horrible, and they are few and far between.

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