American Consequences - November 2020


My father doesn’t like Thanksgiving.

I’ve never really understood why... He’s generally a pleasant enough person who enjoys the presence of his family. Or at least he’s managed to convince us that he does. He likes pie and loves America. He is among the majority who stoically tolerate staple holiday dishes – the mandatory cranberry sauce, even the turkey itself – that they secretly can’t stand: 68% of respondents to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll last year confessed that there is at least one Thanksgiving dish they hate but dutifully eat anyway. (The tradition of choking down a lovingly homemade meal every year in a battle against your tastebuds strikes me as the all-American height of good-humored domesticity, but hey what do I know?) And, come to think of it, cranberry’s not the crux of the problem. Dad has a go-to gripe about Thanksgiving’s status as a “made- up holiday.” Which I think – though I’ve

never asked – has something to do with the cartoonish goofiness of the Mayflower myth... A three-day feast in the fall of 1621 that was host, according to one attendee who took notes, to 90 Wampanoag natives and 53 Pilgrims does not easily equate to the genesis of America as we know it. From the perspective of someone who’s spent his whole life in New England, this fatigue sort of makes sense. And, as far as patriotic feast days go, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are more meaningful commemorations of the glory and sacrifice, the classic united- independence paradox that makes our mighty nation the indomitable mob that we are and will remain. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving commemorates a pretty much “madeup” version of what a few dozen guys with silly hats and overbearing beliefs may or may not have eaten at some point after their boat landed,


November 2020

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