Tomorrow is what for many Americans must be a favorite holiday. I'm not sure Christians would completely feel comfortable saying it, but Thanksgiving is an awfully fun and easy time. And even for the cook, what could be more fun than an entire day of pigging out (and watching football.)
Some families have lavish meals with ham, turkey, and god knows what variation on the usual table sagging feast. Some people fill the turkey with oysters (which sounds like a great thing to try. How could, provided the oysters were fresh, it taste BAD?) Some people have a complicated "stuffing" mix (a sort of bread mixture that is put into the turkey. Health officials have been warning the public for years to keep it out of the bird, and bake it in a pan instead, due to the fact that Americans routinely eat Turkeys that through the process of slaughter are infected with human pathogens. The stuffing keeps the turkey much cooler, and absorbs the germs, protecting them from the killing heat of the oven. It's part of the fun of the American "feed," be it BBQ, or Thanksgiving, to cheat death, break the rules, and give grandma a kiss all at the same goddamn time. Hey!
I'm not really in the mood to ask a lot of questions about Thanksgiving. I never really thought it meant anything but the enjoyment of family, anyway. One thing you always notice on Thanksgiving is that every driveway is absolutely filled with cars of visitors, and people are packed in every house. Of course, some people go to a restaurant, and order a depressing variation on what grandma can't cook anymore. It's a great measure of the difference between what commercial establishments promise, and what, at the end of the day, even the finest can really deliver. Savor for a shilling; but only at the right time, and never over the boundary of the sacred. Blackened redfish for Thanksgiving, at least in Indiana, is roughly equivalent to having sex on a churches altar. Even if nobody but God knows. It's simply a fact.
Very few holidays in America, are about America. Sure, the fourth of July, is supposedly about America... but if you bring that up at the BBQ, people will tolerate you, as opposed to welcome any sort of conversation. You could say instead, "Have you seen that cat video, on You Tube, where the cat is inside a pair of underpants (even if you are making it up!) and the entire table, or patio of people will laugh and tell you their own You Tube obsession. Just don't discuss the fourth of July in the context of American history. It's like, fifth grade history, or something. Know what I mean? (say "know what I mean" with no spaces between the words, and you are getting close to sounding like a Hoosier. Be sure to really ring that "mean." MEEEEEEEN!)
Thanksgiving, however, sort of beats the crap out of you if you don't sort of realize its significance where the coming together of family and friends is concerned. Always at the back of your mind, even if you're a surly redneck, is that this was the holiday that sort of nods at that tiresome, and none the less slightly true fact that America is that idiotic country where people break bread together who have absolutely nothing in common. Of course, there are many other countries that merge many different cultures probably far more effectively than America. But still... I more or less have no ethnicity, and it's been a long time since a date even asked me, "where do you come from." It completely doesn't matter. That I write poetry is perhaps twenty times more important to someone I meet than the fact that I am Polish, French, German, and Irish.
So, it's probably the case that at Thanksgiving, we sit with the ghosts of our grandparents and ask them, "why didn't you notice your husband had that funny accent... couldn't you have married a person from the home country?" Then someone asks you to pass the gravy, and grandma's passions sort of make sense. She was probably eating something, and noticed the guy with the hot-dog. It was the hot-dog that made her do it. We're Americans. Hot dogs are important. Pass the gravy. "Let's talk Turkey." Nowadays you'd say, if you were my age, "keep it real." Same difference. In America. But do people say in France, "Let's talk Turkey." I doubt it. They probably say, "Lets boil a frog in the river it was born." I could well imagine that. Of course the kids in France, due to the global passion for the artform of the African American, say, to their parents total shock and illness, "keepin' it real." Ribbit.
I told you I wasn't going to consider this thing critically. I refuse. I'm going to my aunt and uncles tomorrow, and we're going to eat a lot, play Charades, probably go to a movie, and drink to the point where driving is a real bad idea. And halfway through the meal a litmus test of a persons true American mirth will be dipped in each person at the tables soul. What's this? Well... my uncle, a great lover of obvious questions and I think a close observer of human behavior, though he'd never really make you feel analyzed or anything, typically asks everyone at the table, to go in a circle and state what they are thankful for. This is generally not done, in case you aren't aware of this, in America, since like everywhere else, "what I am thankful for" runs somewhat counter to the basic observation that today is, as it were, "another day in paradise." As in, one more goddamn day. So my uncle ignores this basic tenant of the typical modern individual and asks you anyway. And everyone says something. It's a nice tradition, and like most such things, drives the sufferers of particularly bad humours rather nuts. Which is perhaps its true appeal for me. I could easily get away with saying, "I'm thankful that the Seinfeld cast is going to be together on this months episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, at eight PM eastern standard time on HBO!" and everyone would giggle, but nod politely, and more or less mean it. I could as easily say that I was thankful that I lived for twenty two years of Mother Teresa's life, before she died some eleven or twelve years ago. Way to go Mother! I miss you. Thanks! And my family would nod sagely, there being at this sacred table, no particularly jarring difference between Mother Teresa and the television listings (or for that matter, my appetite for either of them.) This can drive a philosopher crazy. But for me, it goes really well with cranberries, mashed potatoes, and corn bread all mixed together, cold, in the middle of the night, my feet bones aching on the tile floor of a dark midnight... giggling with my cousins. Let the philosopher have the aria of his or her convictions, and I'll take the simple, concentrated animal feeding operation of my truly thankful people.