What I want to know is why is there not a booming outcry about the creeping of "Black Friday" into Thursday by the bloviators, especially the super patriotic types on FOX? Why are we letting greedy merchants steal this unique national family valued event from their clerks, stockboys, cashiers, and managers?
I remember a few years ago the blowhards started whining about the "War on Christmas" because some folks suggested that wishing Merry Christmas to Jews, Muslims, and Atheists was impolite and that people with good manners should simply wish the inclusive "Happy Holidays" so all could be included in the seasonal cheer. To them, politeness is "political correctness". But Thanksgiving crosses all religious boundaries. It is an All-American event on par with the Fourth of July. Where is the patriotic outcry about the War on Thanksgiving, the holiday founded by people seeking religious freedom?
There are a lot of reasons to regard Thanksgiving as a patriotic event. Think about this: We are a nation of immigrants, every nationality on earth. Every culture, every language. Politics and religion divide us deeply and profoundly. But once a year we get together with our families, fractious though they may be, give thanks, and share a feast.
Some of us may have lasagna or prime rib, but most of us, across the vastness of the nation, across all age groups, across politics and religion, share a menu of turkey, once proposed to be our national bird; dressing made from bread, the humblest and noblest of foods; potatoes, the most earthy peasant food; cranberries, a sweet sour bauble like life itself; something green to make Mom happy; and All-American apple pie.
OK, at your house you might skip the cranberries or prefer pumpkin pie, but the thought that so many of us are sharing this feast, this similar menu, this celebration, this unique national cultural touchstone, is enough to make me weep, all the more because food, my great love, is at the center of the action.
The event stretches not only nationwide, but to Americans overseas, to war zones, to expats on the job in Johannesburg or Johannisberg, and back in time to 1621, less than a year after the Mayflower dropped British colonists in Plymouth, MA. They left England to escape the persecution of the religious majority, and they gave thanks for their first harvest by sharing a feast with the native Wampanoag tribe. The celebration continued informally until 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. That means the feast we are sharing with friends and family today has been shared like this for almost 400 years, far longer a national celebration than Independence Day. The Thanksgiving ceremonial repast makes us all part of an unparalleled time-space continuum.
To me Thanksgiving is every bit as meaningful and profound as the Fourth of July. Yes, the flag is a potent symbol, and I swell with pride as much as the next guy at its sight, but the flag is everywhere from bumper stickers to bandanas. But when I sit down for dinner on the fourth Thursday in November and reflect on the fact that I am part of a ritual feast shared by so many for so long, I am deeply and truly awed. More so when I realize that thousands of you are eating my recipes.
And then, as I chew, I wonder, why don't I cook turkey more often? And the answer is clear. Because Thanksgiving and all the fixins are sacred. Let's keep it that way. Let's not go shopping til Friday morning and let's tell the shopkeepers to let their employees spend this special American day with their families and friends.
Copyright (c) 2011 By Meathead, and all rights are reserved
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