Thanks, But I’ll Pass on the Turkey.

t -day

Yep, we’re finally doing it. Bev and I are checking out of the Thanksgiving Day scenario. We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years but were afraid of making too many waves among our extended families. Our kids are just about grown now, both young adults, so if they want to continue with the tradition it’s up to them.

(First off, I just want to stress that this is a personal ideal of ours and we are not saying that it’s the right thing to do for everyone. So please, enjoy your Thanksgiving Holidays with family and friends.)

For some time I’ve been thinking that this holiday is the epitome of irony. I won’t take the time now to discuss the historicity of the tradition – like many great symbols it may be based upon myth, but myth is often  a good way of remembering some very valuable truths.

The Thanksgiving story that I grew up with went something like this; in their first year in North America the pilgrims almost died, basically because they were unprepared. Fortunately for them, the local “Indians” were friendly and they helped the Pilgrims survive and in the process showed them how to live off the land. Instead of starving, the pilgrims enjoyed a great harvest and in celebration of their good fortune they prepared a feast of thanksgiving for themselves and their new hosts. They were grateful to God for saving them from misery and death and, with the help of the natives, even realized an abundance of riches.

Flash forward nearly 400 years to what Thanksgiving is today. A great meal prepared lovingly by the family matriarch, tremendous quantities of food served to relatives gathered about the dining room table, Dad preparing to inflict his carving abilities upon a beautiful roasted turkey. But first, all heads bow in prayerful thanksgiving for the blessings that God has bestowed upon everyone at the table. Thanks are given for the great good fortune of being born American in a world that is sorely lacking in health, wealth and happiness.

Second and third helpings are served, followed by pumpkin pies and coffee. Grazing upon leftovers throughout the afternoon, friends and family enjoy each other’s company, often while watching the traditional football game on TV. A cozy fire is on the hearth, candles flicker on the mantel.

ramirez4.gif

Cartoon by Ramirez

Here is the irony – what about those not at the table? How can they be thankful for their blessings, especially if they cannot nearly enjoy the same fruits of prosperity as we do? What about those who made this tradition possible, the Native Americans – will they also enjoy a feast giving thanks to the God of the Pilgrims? Should they even consider it? Unlike the Pilgrims, most of us sitting down to this meal,  grateful for our good fortune, have never experienced hunger or poverty. Most of us have never had to rely upon the humbling assistance of others to stay alive, as the Pilgrims had to do. And yet the descendants of those who helped our forefathers carve out a living on this continent are forced to live on the worst land our nation is willing to give back.

As important as the topic is I don’t want to focus on the abuses, past or present, suffered by Native Americans in the aftermath of colonialism.  There are many people in America and around the globe that find it impossible to provide their families with the kind of banquet that many of us  (in spite of its name) take so for granted. Millions can barely scrape together one lousy meal a day.

rokpa soup kitchen

So, we’re backing out – we can’t do it anymore. And honestly…. it won’t be much of a “sacrifice”. The holiday season has become taxing for us (as well as many other people). It’s like some great frenetic conveyor belt, pulling us along toward goals of decreasing significance in our lives.  We feel it’s high time for the two of us to get off and start looking at where we’ve been going.

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  1. #1 by papa_rod on November 8, 2007 - 1:46 pm

    AMEN! But then again…don’t start a revolution! Lord only knows what the great corporations will do if we all begin to reflect on exactly what the motivating force behind the way we celebrate holidays now. Could it be the great advertising god in the sky? Whoever decided that we should spend millions on gluttony and on gifts which break within a week of Christmas? I’m with you on this…perhaps many of us should take some of the money that we would “waste” on over-indulging ourselves and give it to the local food bank or emergency housing group. I think that’s what my wife and I will do.

  2. #2 by Christian on November 8, 2007 - 8:09 pm

    Thanks Rod. And I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this over on your site:

    http://rwarczak.wordpress.com/

  3. #3 by Ambrosia de Milano on November 8, 2007 - 9:32 pm

    Party Pooper

  4. #4 by Anonymous on November 8, 2007 - 11:00 pm

    I don’t see the harm in acnowledging our thankfulness to God for His blessings. Why ought we to feel guilt for our prosperity–while at the same time keeping charity for the poor.

    I admit that I am one of those people who have a difficult time at the holidays. We had some great times when our older children were growing up, alternating celebration between the various homes. I wish that on this Thanksgiving, we were piling in the car and gathering at my parents’ home in Northern Virginia. We’d bring our granchildren, who would play with the many cousins my brothers and their wives provided–but the scene crashes.

    I’m the only one with children (and grandchildren). My parents are divorced, living hundreds of miles from eachother, and thousands of miles from my immediate family. Fortunately, my oldest brother lives with my mom, and my next oldest brother will visit mom and Mike, and they’ll stuff themselves at a restaurant, all the while enjoying a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean.

    So, its true that many suffer–the holidays are stark reminders of this fact. However, we ought to count our blessings of family and food, and a peaceful holiday, in the midst of a world in turmoil.

  5. #5 by Anonymous on November 8, 2007 - 11:01 pm

    P. S. you look like a cross between Steve Martin, Chef-Boy-Ardee, and a Suicide Jack wth that dagger stuck through your noggin.

  6. #6 by brightshinyobject on November 9, 2007 - 12:29 am

    yer picture today is like steve martin with the arrow through the head except much bigger and scarier

  7. #7 by Christian on November 9, 2007 - 12:59 am

    OK, OK. So I’m not great with visual perspective. Jeesh.

  8. #8 by Christian on November 9, 2007 - 1:06 am

    Anonymous, to me it sounds as if you keep things in their proper perspective (unlike my visual perspective 😉 ). And over the past few years we have tried tot do so as welll, but without much success. Like Rod says over on his site, everyear this holiday has left us feeling somehow….unfulfilled. As I said, I am not recommending that any or all do something like this, but for us, this year, it seems like the right thing to do.

    I am pretty sure that this will lead us into re-evaluating the remainder of the holiday season. Our children are no longer small and grandchildren are not in the near future for us, so we have at this time a bit more freedom to try some new things. Perhaps we will return to the tradition later on, with a new perpsective or a with a renewed ‘holdiay’ spirit. We’ll see.

  9. #9 by Ambrosia on November 9, 2007 - 7:34 am

    Ha! I can be anonymous. Hmm.

  10. #10 by BuddyO on November 9, 2007 - 10:58 am

    Interesting….

    Well, I personally really appreciate the Holiday. We take time throughout the day to take account of our blessings. For me recognizing how blessed I am wells up deep compassion for those who are less blessed. Daily complacentcy tends to dull this perspective.

    Certianly there’s plenty of biblical precedent for feasts of Thanksgiving. As a matter of fact on the night he was betrayed, Jesus was partaking in a feast of thanksgiving called Passover. He also taught of another one in His parable of the Prodigal Son. Of course, the Jewish tradition is full of examples.

    I’m sure not all of the poor and impoverished in Jerusalem didn’t have a posh upper room to celebrate thier feast of Thanksgiving in, but nevertheless, Jesus felt it important to give thanks.

    Certianly I think it’s great and appropriate to give out of our thanks on and around Thanksgiving. Don’t let commercialism steal the joy of these celebrations from you. This time starting with Thanksgiving proceeding to advent, Christmas, Epiphany and through to Easter is a wonderful time of reflection and worship of our Lord. I would suggest instead of abandoning it, deconstruct it. Ignore what the ‘world’ makes it and make it our own.

    … my 2 cents.

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