Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving - A Celebration of What?

Over the years my feelings about Thanksgiving have changed dramatically.  As a child, I looked forward to the new coloring pages of pumpkins, turkeys and Pilgrims.  There were crafts and plays.  That first stage was - FUN.

As an adolescent I looked forward to time off from school and The Dinner.  My mother was a wonderful cook and she made the best dressing ever.  When my father died in early 1965, holidays in general became something different.  Not only was his absence discomforting, but it became a time to reexamine what holidays actually meant.  At the same time, holidays were becoming more and more about consumerism, buying new and better decorations and Family.  Without dad, family wasn't the same for me.  The word was like a slap in the face.  It made me feel like I didn't "belong."  As the years progressed I began to feel more and more like someone on the outside. 

Aging does give one perspective.  My idea of family changed and designated days to celebrate some created occasion has become an artificial construct for me.  These special days had subtle messages for many people.  It wasn't just those who didn't have a conventional or traditional family who were marginalized, but those of differing religions, other than American origins, those who couldn't afford the crass consumerism flooding the airwaves.  The myths of a harmonious 1st Thanksgiving, the forcing of some sort of ideal family and/or lifestyle, the underlying guilting of those who didn't fit that ideal.  Square pegs unwelcome in the Norman Rockwell America.

The final straw and/or the final epiphany happened when I chose to become vegetarian.  My eyes had been opened to the overwhelming abuse and cruelty inflicted upon non-human animals and it was unconscionable.  Their pain became my pain, my sadness.  The sight of a golden brown dead turkey as the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table was/is repellent.  Happy Turkey Day became the new expression for this holiday.  Happy Turkey?  Excuse me, but I know those turkeys would be much happier if they were still alive.  The massacre of millions of turkeys each year for Tradition is an obscenity  The truth of how massive numbers of turkeys are bred and raised to meet the ever increasing Need, created by marketing executives, is horrid to see and even worse for those turkeys to endure.  No longer are turkeys the multicolored birds of my youth.  Now turkeys are white.  They are bred to have oversized breasts, so large that it is often difficult for them to keep from toppling over.  Why is this done?  Because the white flesh of the turkeys' breasts are the favored part of this bird.  They are "engineered" to fit the tastes of their predators.

Add to the abuse and cruelty toward these marvelous creatures the abuse and cruelty the European invaders and then the "Americans" visited upon the First Peoples, the REAL Americans.  The violence of this holiday, either hidden or ignored by most is the reality of this holiday/holy day to me.  For the rest of America apparently ignorance is bliss.  Unfortunately once faced with the truth, I can't wipe it from my memory or ignore it.  I will enjoy the day, and will spend it with my family - 4-legged and furry. 

Wishing each of you and all of us -


To see a video inside Butterball, the largest purveyor of dead turkeys, visit this link:

And, if you're interested, here are a couple of links about the first Thanksgiving and the National Day of Mourning, observed on Thanksgiving Day since 1970.


  1. I have experienced a similar trajectory in my feelings towards these holidays. Once really happy for me, they are now tainted with sadness due to the absence of my now deceased parents and pets and my awareness of the terrible meanings of the holidays. When I was little I was proud of having been born on Thanksgiving, but not since knowing of the slaughter of the Native Americans this "holiday" celebrates. I also mourn the slaughter of millions of innocent turkeys, and following "thanksgiving" of the millions of innocent trees, symbolic of the body of the Goddess and thus of us, women, killed for use as "Christmas trees."

    1. The truth behind the holiday season isn't pleasant so, as always, we are told a fairy tale. They are just designated, state sanctioned days. It's sad that so many people swallow the crap & are made to feel worse or more alone during this time of year. The best medicine - reject the rhetoric & make the best of each & every day.

    2. Yep. All the other days are certainly far more numerous than the holidays. It is ridiculous to restrict peace, goodwill, etc. only to certain days or seasons, leaving the others what? For war and ill will? No wonder the U.S. is in such a mess.
      Also, meant to say that I mourn the trees for their own lives, not just for their ancient symbolism.

    3. I know what you mean. I heard somewhere, sometime that when the first "colonists" arrived on America's shores the forest stretched from east coast to west coast so that a squirrel could travel across the country and never set foot on the ground. Then this week NPR reported that Sandy took out 10,000 trees. Truly sad.

      I talked to one of our vendors this week & he was sad that he couldn't spend the holidays with his grandson. I told him they are just days - make it your holiday on the days you do get to be with him. I think he "got it." Hell, if Thanksgiving is important to him, celebrate on Sunday. What difference does it really make, especially to a child? It becomes his special day with grandpa.

    4. Yes, I saw a lot of trees broken and uprooted in my town after Sandy :( (I'm on the central Jersey coast). There would not have been as many damaged and destroyed if the primeval forest was still there as the mass of trees itself would have protected most trees from the hurricane's force.

      Yep also to the second paragraph.

  2. I feel your pain. I could write a novel about my dysfunctional family & holidays... and the immense sense of conflict & disappointment they always brought - but I'll spare you.

    1. It's no longer pain. It's morphed into sadness for those who are feeling the pain I once felt (kids hearing the message of family & one or both parents are gone; parents who can't provide the "traditional" meal) & anger over America's massacre of the majority of Native Peoples & continued abuse of them, plus the annual massacre of millions of turkeys, with so many people either ignorant of or uncaring about the violence behind the holiday.

      Here's another link I found last night: It talks about the attitudes of our revered Founders: Washington, Jefferson & Teddy Roosevelt. We have elevated them to near sainthood & yet they were mere men & they thought of native peoples as savages, deserving of extermination.

    2. Very depressing. Such attitudes go way back. Connie, just so you know - I lost my internet service this morning because I can't pay, so am posting this from the library. In case you reply to this or anything else from me and I don't answer, that's why. I lost my job 3 months ago and am running out of money now.

    3. I am so sorry to hear that. I hope that you can, at the very least, find a temp holiday job to carry you through until you can find a permanent position.

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