Sexism. The colors brown and orange. Awful football games. Boring parades. The fact that all the stores are closed. Having to actually go to work. Black Friday.
Again… Black Friday.
These were just some of the reasons Business Insider listed in 2009 as to why the people behind that publication hate Thanksgiving. “Instead of having a normal work week, we’re now subjected to store closings, long family dinners, pumpkin flavored goods, and plenty of other troublesome things. It’s called Thanksgiving and it’s one holiday we don’t approve of,” Vince Veneziani and Courtney Comstock wrote. “Call us cynics, but we’re not giving thanks for anything.” (“12 Reasons Why We Hate Thanksgiving”, by Vince Veneziani and Courtney Comstock, 25 November 2009)
It’s true: The custom that is typically celebrated on a Thursday in late November throughout the US and early in October in Canada is without question the most meaningless, annoyingly traditional holiday celebrated. It’s designed to force us into dinners and gatherings with people we spend the rest of the year’s days doing our best to avoid. The actual meal itself is so grossly overrated with its bland side dishes (who really likes stuffing?) and oftentimes juiceless bird. And maybe most egregious of all is the hypocritically insincere veil that shadows all the proclamations of thankfulness and togetherness to which nobody adheres throughout the other 364 days of the calendar year. (What? Now you’re almost in tears as you think about how thankful you are for a bowl of corn? What happened to how thankful you were for that Big Mac you landed two weeks ago at a 24-four McDonald’s after spending a night pounding Natural Lights and watching CBS’s Elementary? Why weren’t you so grateful for that?)
Anyway, the opinions against Thanksgiving are endless. Take, for example, Mitchel Cohen’s argument about the very real consequences that came from its origin. “What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas and the Taino of the Caribbean, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots,” he wrote. “Literally millions of native peoples were slaughtered. And the gold, slaves and other resources were used, in Europe, to spur the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism. Karl Marx would later call this ‘the primitive accumulation of capital.’ These were the violent beginnings of an intricate system of technology, business, politics and culture that would dominate the world for the next five centuries.” (“Why I Hate Thanksgiving”, Rense.com)
Then, there’s Alexandra Kerr’s recent San Francisco Chronicle piece that noted how expensive the holiday is to actually celebrate. “With the skyrocketing price of corn, organic produce and specialty turkeys, your Thanksgiving dinner may become the priciest meal you eat all year,” she wrote. “If you’re planning to host this season’s feast, be prepared for a variety of items to cost more than you remember.” (“The Hidden Costs Of Thanksgiving Dinner”, 6 November 2012)
Which items did Kerr outline? How about corn and the cost of a bushel rising $1.20 in 2012, pushing a can’s price over six bucks? That’s not enough? Then consider the possibility of spending $120 on a turkey or how organic items could run you more than $50 big ones on produce alone. That should be enough to make you second guess going out of your way to impress those third cousins you get to see once every 12 months.
Still not sold? Consider the single most intriguingly overlooked aspect of the Thanksgiving experience: heartbreak. And I’m not talking the typical loneliness that holidays tend to bring from time to time—I’m talking real, honest-to-goodness, life-lesson-like occurrences that can stick with people for years. Don’t believe me? Check out what Alyshah Hasham of the Toronto Star wrote in October about what she referred to as The Turkey Dump.
“What is nurtured for years only to die at Thanksgiving? A high school romance after six weeks of university,” Hasham wrote. “It’s known as the Turkey Dump, where fresh-faced first-year university students head home for family dinner and break up with their high school sweethearts… While no studies exist to prove the Dumpsgiving phenomenon exists, (Samantha) Joel, a PhD psychology student specializing in relationships, has noticed it’s much harder to find couples among the first-year cohort to recruit for research studies after turkey weekend. And Dr. Mohsan Beg, the director of student counselling at the University of Windsor since 2005, says in his experience (the Turkey Dump) is part of the rhythm of the academic year.” (“The Turkey Dump: university students prepare for Thanksgiving breakups”, 8 October 2012)
See what I mean? The detriment of the Thanksgiving holiday extends to most every aspect of what most people consider a normal life. Money. Romance. Genocide.
And these are just a handful of the many elements that make this particular celebration one of the most insufferable events of the year. Why we put ourselves through the same routine each November seems like an exercise in the cruelest form of habitual torture. I mean, nobody really looks forward to turkey day, do they? It’s not like we exchange gifts. The weather is some of the most excruciatingly irritating of the year, a tiresome mix of the cold and the sloppy. There always—always—seems to be an inordinate amount of travel involved with whatever you happen to be doing. And maybe most importantly, the thing essentially kicks off a string of horribly depressing months centered around ever-lessening daylight, an impairing climate, disappointing reunions and awkward facial hair for guys who think the wintertime justifies looking like cavemen who haven’t yet invented the wheel.
So, what’s the solution? Well, ignoring Thanksgiving altogether seems like the most obvious fix, but there’s no need to smother ourselves in naivetnaivete (regardless of how many people might hold a deep-seeded hate for the holiday, it would be idiotic to believe that the majority of those who celebrate the occasion will suddenly just stop pretending they enjoy eating cranberry sauce and indulging in some conversation about who Aunt Toots thinks will win The Voice). The monotony of the tradition is simply far too embedded in the populace’s being for us to truly think the madness could end over night.
The alternative, then, is to revolutionize the way we celebrate the holiday as it stands today. For example, why don’t we try and rethink the menu? Part of what makes each year so taxing is the undeniable predictability of the exercise. Forget turkey—let’s concentrate on whatever we feel like eating. Besides, constructing ten BLTs or throwing four frozen pizzas in the oven sure beats the amount of effort it takes to properly concoct a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Who needs pumpkin pie when there’s a case of freeze pops, anyway?
Then, of course, there’s the actual day on which it always lands. I mean, what idiot decided it would be a good idea to plop a holiday down in the middle of the week on a day usually reserved for college kids who like to “kick the weekend off early”? It’s like asking Owl City to open for Metallica in Sweden: Not only does none of it make sense, but it also provides an inordinate amount of inconvenience for all those involved. Move the celebration to the weekend, and watch as the sales in 50-cent boxes of mashed potatoes increase exponentially.
And finally, exactly why do we insist on inviting obscure family members to these gatherings again? Why don’t we take this day to reunite with some of the friends we lost touch with over the years instead of answering questions from uncles who always remind us of how much we failed at pretty much every personal and professional aspect of our lives? Shot-gunning Miller High Lifes out of a can with the dude you met in college who always brought a bottle of Jagermeister and a bag of Cheetos to the party sounds like a far more satisfying way to honor something called The Mayflower, don’t you think?
The practice of celebrating Thanksgiving is old and trite and dull and boring and forced and a slave to a kind of tradition that is borderline intolerable. Outside of it solidifying the fact that yes, the calender year is almost over, and no, it won’t be warm again for a little while (for those of us in the northern climes, anyway), the holiday itself is nothing more than a hollow attempt for poignancy by people who, in all honesty, would have to spend the next 10,000 years saying “thank you” on a loop to justify all the good fortune they have. It’s a manufactured conscience-clearer designed to trick us into thinking that a higher power actually believes us when we say—a mere one time a year, mind you—that we know precisely how spoiled we are. It’s smothered in the type of empty promises and obnoxious grandstanding that proves exactly how pious and obsessed most of us exemplify with our own exaggerated perception of ourselves.
Or, as the folks at Business Insider argued so eloquently, Thanksgiving is sexist, has a bad color scheme, promises awful American football games, closes restaurants and serves as the last line of defense before Black Friday.
Again… Black Friday. Don’t even get me started on Black Friday ...
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.
// Marginal Utility
"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.READ the article