This past Thanksgiving holiday was far from a traditional one for me. On Wednesday, Nov. 22, I started to feel sick. The upper part of my mouth and my throat started to feel tender. This is a feeling I generally get when something is coming over me. A failed attempt at heading to Nashville on Wednesday due to the strange behavior of our van threw me over the edge. I was to be bedridden for the following 24 hours. This effectively eliminated my Thanksgiving plans with my family.
While drinking plenty of fluids and floating in and out of a Nyquil-induced sleep, I could not help but contemplate the meaning of Thanksgiving. For me, the best parts include spending time with family that I do not get to see as often now that I live an hour away and am a full-time college student, as well as the waves of gratitude and the glorious bounty of delicious food. This is where my warm and fuzzy feelings toward this holiday ends. They are far outweighed by my misgivings. I have a few of those.
Ok, bring out the bullet points:
- We cannot forget the slaughtering of MILLIONS of Native Americans. In the history books I read growing up, Thanksgiving represented the cooperation and friendliness between European settlers/colonialists and indigenous tribes of the continental US. They all came together to share a large meal. What history books fail to mention is that all of America was savagely taken from Native American tribes with brute force and inhumane cruelty. I cannot resolve this in my head.
- The blatant commercialism of the holiday promotes greed and materialism. Not only do people spend a ton of money buying turkey and food for a huge meal, but there is immense pressure to spend money on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. America has figured out a way to monetize what is supposed to be a time of sharing and togetherness. This world is bullshit.
- The strains of salmonella found in turkeys, not to mention the chemicals used to fatten them up, are dangerous to your health. Here is an enlightening article from the Organic Consumers Association: What Turkey Producers Don’t Want You To Know
More than any other American holiday, Thanksgiving has become increasingly cringe-worthy with each passing year. It is difficult to resolve these serious misgivings that I have.
Nonetheless, the holiday creates a time for me to commune with family and to give thanks for the many joys and gifts we have in our lives. There is still immense value in this.
I want to figure out a way to balance out and acknowledge the truths behind this annual occasion. Perhaps next year, without being sick, I will do something different.