BREAKING NEWS — Thanksgiving story is a myth!
Ah, Thanksgiving again.
Time out from our terribly busy lives and careers mostly answering emails to gather for family, friends, football and recalling old resentments, topped off with the traditional turkey and stuffing our gaping pie holes.
We gather around the table eyes aglow and mouths watering over the bounteous feast that beckons and we didn’t purchase or slave to prepare or plan to help clean up after due to football napping/coma and long refreshing walks in the crisp autumn air to get away from family.
We bow our heads in grace out of respect for a religious and wealthy great great aunt who can’t hear much anymore but she can see plenty well and is keeping track for estate-planning purposes.
We snark about a cousin who brought a delicious kale dish not aware of the oxymoron but meant well and will get to take it home.
We put down our phones for a long … torturous … 20 minutes.
We drink too much gravy. Wine and booze too. We catch up on our lives, compete for worst Thanksgiving travel story, and studiously avoid ruining another Thanksgiving by even mentioning Trump.
We don’t even say “trump card” anymore even while playing cards and have the king of spades that looks like Trump acts.
Thanksgiving is even more fun if college kids are home on break.
We enjoy hearing about their studies and collegiate experiences. We watch with loving bemusement as they scarf down their microwave-roasted vegan Tofurky stuffed with raw paleo grains made special for them, as we also avoid triggering their higher morals and sensibilities we didn’t teach them.
For example, we appreciate their retelling of the classic Thanksgiving story.
We always believed, as History.com says, “The holiday feast dates back to November 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration.”
Wrong, your collegians will lecture. That’s a complete white patriarchal phallocratic cisgender macro-aggressive myth, the classic false history written by murderous thieving victors.
The adorable college kids were taught and passionately embrace the indisputable Howard Zinn people’s history of white privilege. Even if — sometimes especially if — the kids themselves are white privileged, with family names, bloodlines, trust funds and Ivy legacy status running straight back to the Mayflower, British royalty and colonization.
The adults will nod approvingly — perhaps snap our fingers to show we’re awesome and “woke” — when the college kids slowly explain, with delightfully innocent condescension and high dudgeon, that the very first caravan hoard of immigrants crossing our border was, like literally, straight white European religious fundamentalists and money-grubbing capitalists.
The white mobs, the kids continue unasked, slaughtered the innocent multicultural people, stole their land, and renamed it “America” after an Italian cartographer. All, ironically, in the name of the European white “God.”
Gosh, the adults will respond politely to the youthful political droning, we did not know that, wow, snap, who’da thunk it, how horrible, thanks for letting us know.
We express such appreciation with twinkling condescension in a way the kids in their high dudgeon won’t notice.
For me, the Thanksgiving holiday kicked off on Nov. 19 with a Thanksmisgiving talk show on NPR focused on myth-busting the traditional holiday story.
The guests included two specialists from the National Museum of the American Indian. They talked about the actual relationship between the Indians and English settlers 1600s versus how the story is taught in schools. Good stuff, much of which I did not know but appreciate learning.
The third guest was a professor of anthropology at a major respected university who was not in the Thanksgiving holiday spirit.
I’ll call him Professor Charles Dreary, PhD, because he was relentlessly and depressingly negative about Thanksgiving, especially how kids are being fooled by the holiday myth almost to the point of child abuse requiring removal from homes and public schools, re-education and post-cult recovery therapy.
Instead of being fed the hoary lie about how the Indians and Pilgrims sat down together to peace and harmony to feast in thanks and celebration of nature’s bounty, Professor Dreary said kids need to be taught the gruesome truth starting in first grade when they’re six, prone to nightmares and could be scarred for life by child therapists.
At least children need to hear both sides of the story so they can decide the issue for themselves, the professor insisted, unlike how they can’t choose their shoes while late for school.
Instead of drawing turkeys by outlining their hands, kids should be finger-painting hater Pilgrims stabbing, mass musket-shooting and otherwise genocide-ing innocent Indians and stealing their pumpkin pie and fertile farmland they need to grow crops and avoid starving. (I’m paraphrasing the professor here.)
Since I was listening to the NPR talk show professor while driving, I had to pull over so I could use both hands to smack my forehead.
Yes, yes, my fellow liberals, don’t twist or soil your knickers, I get what Professor Dreary was saying, and have all due respect for his research, knowledge and difficult climb through today’s underpaid and competitive academia to get on NPR.
The true Thanksgiving story does involve crimes against humanity. And not the naughty-fun card game that when played with family on Thanksgiving gives great-great-auntie the fantods requiring the nearest fainting divan, smelling salts and, worst case, EMT, last rites and initial squabbling over her estate.
But look at all our holidays, whoever we are and whatever we celebrate: Aren’t most that we love, and look forward to gathering around, based at least somewhat on myths?
Do we have to be so smartly dreary? Can’t we redefine, re-own and re-appropriate holidays to pull out and celebrate the best possible meaning therein?
President Lincoln did.
The president who ended America’s greatest crime against humanity didn’t worry about being historically or politically incorrect about the first Thanksgiving.
Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 during the worst days of the Civil War. He looked past the bitter realities of the real history of Thanksgiving in hopes to redress the bitter realities of his time, to beseech the riven nation to harken our better angels and let what unites us overcome what divides us.
Like literally we might consider today.
Lincoln closed his Thanksgiving proclamation with this fervent wish:
For the “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Amen. Let’s eat.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer