In October, plastic pumpkins and weirdly soft fake cobwebs dominate all the shelves at my local Fred’s discount store. Come November 1, we do a quick transition into snowflakes and pine trees.
This is an abomination. I love Christmas, but I am never more offended than when the entire American public overlooks what is arguably the greatest holiday to ever exist ever: Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is the best. First of all, school has a break, unlike Halloween (which is scary anyway). Second of all, it requires much less preparation than a high-stress holiday like Christmas. Thirdly, if done right, Thanksgiving can stretch over two days – one for the cooking preparations, which includes making cranberry sauce that requires multiple taste tests, and then another for the actual holiday.
I have always loved Thanksgiving. It has come to my attention, however, that many do not. Last year, in an argument over the best holiday, my little sister scoffed at me, turned up her nose, and said that I was celebrating the subjugation of the Native American race by the white settlers, strongly implying that Thanksgiving is some sort of cult-ish activity where millions of white Americans celebrate their superiority, past brutality, and thievery of an entire country over turkey and deviled eggs.
I have a few responses to this mindset. One, I just want to eat. Come on, we all know that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving for its symbolic meaning and the history it represents. At best, some elementary-schoolers will put on a badly prepared school play where everyone wears paper hats and carries around baskets to reenact the “first Thanksgiving.” At least in my family, we don’t seat ourselves at the table, join hands, and together remember the Pilgrim settlers, their Native American friends, and the banging party they threw together. We just wait an indecently long time for my aunt and uncle to arrive and the turkey to finish cooking, and then we eat food together.
There’s the second response: Thanksgiving is not really even about the Pilgrims anymore (at least for me and my family, it’s not). It’s about eating food together off the good china, even though it operates the same as our Crate and Barrel plates and has to be handwashed. It’s about mindlessly watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in the morning, even though I never know half the acts and everyone is clearly lipsynching. It’s about wearing stretchy pants, it’s about seven people in a small kitchen at one time, it’s about my terrible judgement at when whipped cream should be done whipping, it’s about the challenge of who can eat the most deviled eggs (me, I can, I can always eat the most deviled eggs), it’s about yelling at my sister for not eating the vegan pie I specially made for her. It’s about the memories and the good times and the annual fight about whether canned or homemade cranberry sauce is better. It’s just Thanksgiving. And then there’s turkey soup the next day.
I love Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s a reminder of the way European settlers first took advantage of Native Americans before completely stealing their country. But it can evolve, if you only let it. For me, it already has evolved. I’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving as a harken back to the good old days of colonial America. I’ve celebrated it because it’s a day where I can eat good food with my family and then take a four-hour nap afterwards.
So please, if you hate on Thanksgiving because of its cultural implications: cut it some slack. Just enjoy it as a day off from school where you can coat everything in gravy and nobody will notice if you don’t eat a single vegetable. It’s more fun that way, I promise.
(Also, for the record, canned cranberry sauce is just better than homemade. Canned cranberry sauce has been kissed by the gods. Homemade cranberry sauce tastes like the devil incarnate has made his home in some round pink berries and is trying to kill you from the inside.)