Thanksgiving was pretty good… good food, good times with the family, and just a generally good thing. Everyone feels all thankful, gorges on crazy amounts of food, and then sits back and lets the tryptophan do its thing (which, by the way, is another total farce – the amount of tryptophan in turkey is no greater than most other meats. Thanksgiving drowsiness is caused by eating ridiculous amounts of carbs. Don’t believe me? Here you go.)
The origin of the “story” of Thanksgiving, which involves pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, Native Americans, and a whole lot of unfortunate turkeys, seems to be (at least mostly) a total crock. The real story of our celebrated national holiday can be found here, and (as seems to be the case for so much of early American history) involves the slaughter of 700 Native Americans. Wow. I guess the early pioneers were thankful that the Indians weren’t better armed, huh?
Governor Winthrop of the Massachussetts Bay Colony proclaimed this first official day of Thanksgiving and feasting to celebrate the return of the colony’s men who had arrived safely from what is now Mystic, Connecticut. They had gone there to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children, and Mr. Winthrop decided to dedicate an official day of thanksgiving complete with a feast to ‘give thanks’ for their great ‘victory’
Oh yeah, that’s good stuff. But there’s more. Apparently the actual holiday wasn’t even made ‘official’ until 1941. That’s not totally accurate – good ol’ George “Scourge of Cherry Trees” Washington called for a day of thanksgiving soon after he was put into office. The next Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated until “Honest” Abe Lincoln, that wild party animal, called for a day of thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November… to celebrate (so to speak – and give thanks for) the Union victory at Gettysburg. It’s true. And each president since then called for this day until 1941, when Congress just went ahead and saved American Presidents the hassle and made Thanksgiving an official holiday. Since Lincoln, it became a matter of convention that this national holiday would take place on the fourth Thursday of November.
The actual religious significance of this holiday is nil, the historical significance is buried in (and shrouded by) history, and it stands (in my opinion) as a complete non-holiday. Why in the heck does this holiday even exist?
I spoke on the phone briefly with Arroyo tonight, and had a conversation that included a brief version of these thoughts. His response is that on this day he gets an opportunity to thank God that he’s alive, and spend time being thankful for all the good things in his life with his family. Fair enough. But shouldn’t you be thankful on a daily basis? I’m not sure I agree that appreciation for the fruits of one’s labor (excuse me – God’s handouts) should be limited to a single day, as declared by our government.
Very antediluvian ideology, I’d say. I think I’m just a little irritated because Starbuck’s was closed today, and I’m still trying to figure out why. Hah. Didn’t see that coming, didja?