So, I’m American. If you’ve read enough of my posts you’ve likely picked up on that. I like being American, despite our… problematic?… national history. It’s precisely because of this problematic history that I’m not a huge fan of Thanksgiving, and feel it necessary to call out the centuries of nonsense surrounding this holiday.
First and foremost, let me say that I love getting together with my family for the holiday. I’m lucky enough to come from a family who all genuinely like each other and enjoy spending time together, so this isn’t an element that I dislike. I also don’t dislike our traditions or the food or any of the other tangible elements of the holiday.
One thing I do dislike is that we, collectively, seem to gloss over our problematic past.
We’re celebrating a time in our history when we were basically flying blind, being in unfamiliar surroundings, and we relied heavily on the native population for survival. We then turned around, took the land they had lived, worked and hunted on for centuries and committed mass genocide in an attempt to civilize the savages, i.e. make them more European. It wasn’t actually a recognized holiday until 1863 when in the middle of the Civil War, President Lincoln wanted to do something to boost the country’s morale. We were almost three years into a war that completely changed our national landscape and social structure, so it was almost a deflection. It was a way for him to remind the citizens of the United States that they were still alive, and should, therefore, be thankful. Maybe it’s my modern sensibilities, but I can’t imagine this working or being very popular now.
Let’s look at Thanksgiving now: we eat ourselves silly, watch football and many, many people begin the holiday shopping season. In stores. Where people have to work instead of being home with their families. I know a lot of people are like “Well if they don’t want to work Thanksgiving they shouldn’t be in retail”, but that’s a crap response. Retail work is plentiful, especially in areas without other industry, and a lot of people in retail do it to make ends meet with other jobs. Is depriving these people of time with their families really worth a mediocre deal on a tv? It seems cruel. Stores should at least give their employees time to have dinner with family rather than opening at 6 pm. I just don’t like it. I find the whole Black Friday thing a bit grotesque to begin with and this doesn’t help. I mean, people are actually hurt and sometimes killed in the Black Friday rush. KILLED. Let that sink in for a minute. Someone died by trampling in one of our local stores a few years ago. What item could possibly be worth someone’s life?
This is not to say that I won’t shop, because I will. I’ll just do it online. And I will be eternally grateful for a family who loves and supports me, a job that doesn’t make me miss the holiday, and pie. Yes, pie.
What do you guys think about the holiday or the shopping madness?