Or my pants don’t fit because of those greedy pilgrims. Thanksgiving themes have been done and redone much like the week old remains of that gluttonous meal we like to call a holiday. Holiday from what I am not entirely sure but holiday none the less. Perhaps it is a holiday from all reasonable and sane behavior. How else can you explain so many deep fried turkey injuries on this one day alone? Not to mention the fact that in a single act of group think rivaling only that of Jones Town an entire country incapacitates itself with one of the most insidious weapon of mass destruction ever dreamed of by Saddam Hussein. Copious amounts of food. With a single innocuous and even heartwarming word, Thanksgiving, households across America will actively begin preparing their demise. They will spend hours slaving over hot stoves and ovens with a few random deep fryers thrown in for splashy special effects. They will play fast and loose with Sal and Monella, those two low life cousins from the wrong side of the lower intestinal track. They will throw caution to the wind leaving deviled eggs unattended in overheated rooms for long hours to be manhandled by the unwashed hands of Uncle Harry with the lingering cough and those wild savage animals someone calls their "little darlings."
On this day nearly an entire nation will forget the good sense they were born with and eat everything and anything laid before them and a good deal that's just lying around. It won’t matter one bit that they have never eaten gravy on green beans before. Nor will it matter that Aunt Ethel’s fruit cake originally served as a foot rest for General Ulysses S Grant in the Civil war, they won’t even bother with the politic of which side their great, great somebody fought on. Nope. They will just shove another bite in while Aunt Ethel flashes her lipstick stained smile and slyly tries to straighten her dentures…again. There will be enough food to feed an entire third world nation twice and yet someone will call out “Hey, where’s the cranberry sauce? Didn’t anybody bring cranberry sauce? You can’t call this a meal without cranberry sauce.” Followed by “Hellmann’s? I thought we all agreed last year that Miracle Whip was the best? You don’t expect me to eat this stuff do you?”
Then there is Uncle Larry who bears a striking resemblance to absolutely no one in the family but is never questioned because he always helps with the dishes. You can usually find him wearing some unexplainable kid concoction and being chased by a pack of vicious sugar crazed hooligans in what resembles an excerpt from the Lord of the Flies with the sounds of “After all we aren’t savages, really” echoing behind him. They will race past men sitting on overstuffed sofas whose eyes are fixed on a game they care little to nothing about. Too fat and full to even consider getting up to pour their own beer they are quite happy to yell at the fat lazy dumbass who missed the pass in a blinding blizzard of sub zero temperatures. “Is that pumpkin pie ready yet? We’re starving in here!” The women will roll their eyes and pour themselves another glass of wine.
All across America in homes full of mini dramas, familial slights and exuberant acts of forgiveness. We will eat too much and moan about our good fortune. We will sit in the lap of luxury and ask for a softer pillow. And we will sit around our dining room tables basking in the glow of those we love and who love us back even when we both know better.
Not everyone however will have that special warm fuzzy holiday experience. Some will struggle under great adversity while others struggle simply to live life. Somewhere in between a great many of us will secretly wonder why we never quite seem to fit in. The media will sell us glowing images of golden roast turkey and picture perfect families who wouldn’t recognize a care or worry if it sat at the head of the table and carved the roast beast itself. And some of us will wonder. We will wonder why our lives don’t look quite like those airbrushed, glossy, color fantasies.
Last year right around this time, many of us were unwitting witnesses to a colossal collision as this picture perfect imagery slammed head-on into ugly reality. It occurred when Sara Palin gave a television interview at a turkey processing plant. She stood outside in her fashionable Alaskan outdoor gear with a latte’ firmly gripped in one dainty gloved hand. The cameras were centered in on her while clearly visible in the background a ghastly scene stealing moment played out. It came in the form of a hard working employee of the turkey processing plant. Possibly a few drumsticks short of a full IQ test this fellow was not so easily distracted by the glamour of a live television interview though he looked on with rapt attention as the cameras rolled. He did not waver from his assigned task which apparently was feeding turkeys into the grinder. He never missed a beat. Sara too was clearly not distracted by the graphic scene that played out behind her. She never skipped a beat as well, continuing to answer questions and smiling for the cameras. While the shock of seeing this awkward moment on national television was nearly overwhelming in so many ways I did take away an invaluable lesson about Thanksgiving.
No matter what your opinion of the woman may be and everyone does seem to have a strong opinion about her, I have to give her this; she is entirely comfortable in her own skin. She was never once distracted nor did she look the least bit uncomfortable about what she fully knew to be going on directly behind her. All political commentary aside what finally dawned on me as the shock began to wear off was that she wasn’t making any apologies to anyone. Now I understand that it is a little hard to peal away the political emotions surrounding this woman but in that moment that is exactly what I did. I was filled with gratitude for the country that I live in. Not because of her or any other politician but rather for the fact that in this day and age of glossy coated dreams and techno color promises where everything is airbrushed and crafted for presentation there are still people with the chutzpah to thumb their nose at it all and say “This is who I am and I’m OK with that.” I am grateful for the people who accept their imperfections and failings and lovingly accept them in others. I am grateful that my biggest concern on this day is how much rich food I will overeat and whether this outfit really does make my butt look fat. I am grateful for the phone book that props up the broken table leg or the scruffy uncle that snores on the couch and for all the messy families and friendships. I am grateful for knowing that somewhere out there is my opportunity to keep trying for that glossy coated dream. I am deeply grateful for all the people that have sacrificed and died so that I may have the luxury to fret and worry that my life isn’t picture perfect. Grateful that someone out there has provided me with the fortune to be thankful for how great life is while still imagining how much better it can be. I am grateful that I have the liberty to create an opportunity of my choosing. I am especially thankful for the people who love and support me. And I thank all of you for letting me be there for you while you reach for your glossy coated dreams and techno colored promises. Happy Thanksgiving
Or Happy Thursday for those of you not doing the whole festive turkey thing.