And for those who refer to such days as ‘holidays’ I have only derision and scorn. Thanksgiving is a time for people to be thankful–everyone that is except those who shop, cook and prepare the Thanksgiving feast. For these poor unfortunates the day is a slog that involves endless hours of shopping from an ever-lengthening list and culminates in a total lack of gratitude from those grown corpulent and lethargic on an overindulgence of food. We end in the wee small hours shovelling potato-streaked plates into the dishwasher while those who’ve benefited from our hard work, quite oblivious to the ironies they’ve lent to the seasonal spirit, veg out post-feast, watching family movies with drooping eyelids, bone idle while the hard-working pot-scrubbers are simply boned.
And all in the name of what, exactly? What is Thanksgiving? Self-satisfied, borderline racist applause that an ancient nation of flu-mongers survived a year in hostile climes into which they were never invited. Let’s celebrate our invasion of this territory and the belittlement of its indigenous peoples. Let’s celebrate the systematic extinction of the new world’s faunal bouquet in the name of putting bison in every pot. Let’s hunt, shoot and blaze our way across this new frontier and burn every bridge to the fore and aft, and let’s retell our stories centuries hence by putting our suckling weens into feathered paper headdresses and have them whoop Injun style to appease their doting parents.
A lifetime of US comedy and drama taught me the solemnity of the Thanksgiving ceremony, all of which was abandoned in a gluttonous rush for food. “I’m thankful for pie,” said one little piggy, while another porcine creature echoed her lack of thanks with “I’m thankful for whipped cream.”
And I, idiot that I am, had a three course meal of appreciation: for the people who’ve looked after me, for those that accommodate me currently, and for the one who’ll do both for the rest of my days. My genuine thankfulness was drowned beneath calls for more for food, grabs for more condiments–as was every idea as to the true meaning of Thanksgiving.
So much food–too much for those gathered–now mouldering in the fridge where only the choicest treats will be devoured with gusto. In previous years I’ve found treasured Thanksgiving foodstuffs rusted to mould some two months after the big day itself. Someone slaved over this food, someone put their all into it; abandoned and sneered at it would have remained there forever as a culinary oddity for future civilisations to prise from the freezer with antimatter laser-picks. Taken to the museum of the twenty-first century they reassemble the corn, the cranberries, the nibbled-at broccoli into ignorant configurations: “We believe this green-haired ruby-eyed yellow-toothed turkey monster once roamed the plains of New Jersey, and was preyed upon by an also-extinct creature known as ‘Snookitus Situatia’, the bronzed skeletons of which were discovered upon Jersey’s shore.”
While America describes an ever-sinking circle around the rim of its economical toilet Thanksgiving has become forerunner to an even more vulgar display of gluttony: Black Friday. Thanks in part to globalisation and in other parts to the rest of the world regarding the United States with me-too envy (which Americans I’m sure, would say has always been the case) the Black Friday sales have crept in ever direction, staining oceans murky with their unfettered capitalisation. This is capitalisation at the cost of composure, respect, decency and every other quality a human being can muster. In a land where camping protests concerning the economy are being squashed, erecting chains of pup tents in front of Best Buy so none will miss their midnight bargains is encouraged. Walmarts arespoken of in hushed tones equal parts scared and reverent as ragged lines of shoppers tie noose-like around them. People can and have been killed in their attempts to get a cut price TV, a video games console for a few dollars, a toaster oven to reheat leftover cinnamon muffins that will otherwise turn into rocks. All in the name of savings shoppers will trample each other like steer in stampede, rushing as one off the cliffs of sanity to dash their skulls upon white goods and Nintendo Wiis.
From these bloodied tangles of limbs the triumphant post pictures taken with new iPhones, like looters, proudly displaying their illicit gains at the cost of lives and human decency. These regrettable actions persist year after year. Woe betide anyone who heads out on Black Friday. No matter how low, some prices simply aren’t worth paying.
At the heart of the Thanksgiving legend, their own harvest rituals commandeered by their black-hatted murderers, the American Indians–no longer bearing their own names, mind you, but one foisted on them by settlers who mistook them the subjugated peoples of another place entirely–cry their eternal tears, so entrenched in the public consciousness they’ve become periodic. Perhaps they cry for their co-opted holidays, the way they were pushed to the fringes of society, for every reservation casino, for every piece of dropped litter, for the death of a dream, for their loss of identity, for any and all they reasons they have to weep. Or, reduced to child-sized mummers on stage, perhaps they weep not at all. Subsumed by the tide of Americanism there are no tears anymore; as with everyone else on this sunken continent the feast is everything they always wanted.
Heralding Christmas, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade wends its putrid way like a worm gnawing through the Big Apple. Pokémon blimps bob among the tower-tops that ten years ago trembled at the arrival of terror to this once unshakable nation. Having been shaken, now detritus falls like starry ash, yet we’re all too busy eating to notice how we’re choking on it. Religions rise high on fear and bumper stickers, threatening great vengeance upon amoral un-American atheistic smart-mouths. “Look where our black president got us” they cry from super-churches like Jihadistic minarets, ignoring the ever-increasing debt that’s sunk the nation over the past decade or more to dwell on creases not easily ironed, that will persist for many years to come.
Meanwhile up the road, a couple names their kids Adolph Hitler and Aryan Nation and cries foul when–thanks to their violent history–their children are removed to safer homes.
An ethnically cleansed nation, celebrated in the God-given all-American right to name a child whatever the hell you damned well please–something the Pilgrim fathers would no doubt approve of.
Every word written in this post is true. Yesterday was a bad day that ended in good food. I worked too hard for too little reward, and while the bloated recipients of my labour sat like over-filled beanbags, my mother-in-law and myself worked still to clean up the mess they’d created. Beyond our home, things are still more dour. Ignorance creeps and is passed on to the next generation. There are hate-mongerers. There are idiots. Everything William S Burroughs wrote in his Thanksgiving prayer was true, and is true, and will likely remain true until the outlook becomes so bleak Burroughs’s words will seem optimistic.
And I’m thankful, for this is only half the story, belched in a sour fit of pique. If you read the entire post nodding in agreement then shame on you. If you think Burroughs’s prayer is implacable then shame on you. Like me, celebrate Thanksgiving by being thankful there are more than dour times ahead, and–most of all–that you have the power to make a difference. That’s what makes America–and the whole human race–great. Better than one nation under God, be grateful for your own mental faculties and believe in yourself.
Giving thanks isn’t the domain of the overfed alone. If for nothing else, be thankful for that.