Responses to my Thanksgiving post, part 1
I guess I'm not the only one sitting at her computer on a Saturday afternoon, as I already have a few responses to my post about the Thanksgiving holiday. Basically, I feel that time off from work and family togetherness are A Good Thing, but this whole happy Pilgrims and Indians mythology is pretty disgusting--and it just seems weird to celebrate what for many is a Day of Mourning.
Stacy S. mainly agrees with me but wanted to note that she certainly doesn't celebrate the holiday elementary-school-textbook style:
i'm not disputing anything you've said, but i do have to add that thanksgiving as we know it today is the result of Abraham Lincoln's call for a day of thanksgiving; he was thankful that he could successfully prosecute a war which ended slavery in all but four US states... I guess that's what I celebrate...
meanwhile, my closest friend since high school is pure Omaha (yes, that's a real native-american tribe) and quite irritated with the pestiferous proliferation of the Wannabe Tribe, particularly those who are 1/fraction Cherokee, yet obviously more Daimler-Chrysler than anything else...
This brings to mind 1998's televised Dialogue on Race with President Bill Clinton, in which Clinton earnestly told American Indian writer Sherman Alexie that his grandmother was 1/4 Cherokee...
But to return to responses, Philip Pangrac wrote to remind me that most people couldn't care less about the happy Pilgrims and Indians myth anyway:
In your little rant on Thanksgiving, you seem to neglect the fact that white America only celebrates the holiday for a few reasons:
1. Four day weekend.
I hope I didn't give the impression that I'm against four-day weekends, as I'm all for workers getting more days off. And I know some people celebrate Harvest or other types of seasonal holidays. But I really feel like we could have a better reason to have the extra time off than celebrating a holiday with such an awful mythology surrounding it. For starters, we might stop making some schoolchildren dress up in paper fringe and hand bundles of maize to other schoolchildren attired in black and white paper hats (I don't plan to have kids for some years yet but when I do I certainly won't allow them to wear construction paper feathers and say "How"). For many, the meeting between English colonists and the Wampanoag Indians is the beginning of years of broken treaties and genocide, not really something to make cute little classroom displays about.
2. Mark the start of the X-Mas buying season.
4. Family get together.
I am all in favor of family get-togethers, and I realize that for many, Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations are the only time they really have an excuse to get everyone together. I personally really enjoyed spending this weekend (which also happens to be the start of Hanukah) with my parents, sibling, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. But when I close my eyes and visions of drug-store Pilgrims and Indians cut-outs start dancing before my eyes, I get nauseous.
5. Gives sitcoms and comics strips a simple theme for the one week.
I have very mixed feelings about this one, as I am generally sick of cartoons about turkeys getting their heads chopped off. But it did give me something to blog about, and Ruben Bolling and Lalo Alcaraz something to cartoon about, so I guess every cloud has a silver lining.
But to allow Philip to finish his letter:
No one really treats the whole "Native Americans and Pilgrims getting along" crap seriously. If you're going to attack the holiday from the Native American standpoint, you should also attack it with the fact that no one views it with the actual intent.
Point duly noted.
Anyway, I don't mean to berate people for wanting to get together with their loved ones and eat pumpkin pie. It just bothers me that the mainstream media presents Columbus Day and Thanksgiving as fun holidays, and ignores the fact that for millions of Americans Thanksgiving is more of a funeral than a party. This might seem like a dour way of looking at the world, but honestly, I'm as happy as anyone waiting for George W. Bush to start World War III could be...
OK, seriously now. I am a happy person, I laugh a lot, and my blood pressure is just fine. I say this because I got a letter some time back warning me that being so bitter and political and angry all the time would make my life miserable (the letter-writer had apparently made himself happier by getting a bit more apathetic). Trust me, it's not true. I am certainly pretty angry pretty much of the time (hence "The Boiling Point"), but I like to think I have a sense of humor about it. I really like reading news articles and drawing cartoons. Also, I take plenty of breaks from Boiling Over With Rage to knit, sew, and read Philip K. Dick novels.