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Topic #22
Thanks a lot.

As you know from previous Topics of the Week, Janet and I are not holiday people. Basically, I feel that most holidays are used as excuses by people to become self-destructive and behave out of character. Take for example, the 4th of July… all throughout the nation, people are killed because too many assholes decide to fire off their guns as part of the "fireworks" celebrations, accidentally killing passers by. On Christmas, people use the fact that they're walking under a piece of mistletoe to stick their tongues in to strangers' mouths… a behaviour that would get them slapped any other time of the year. People use St. Patrick's day as an excuse to get plastered and behave like asses. It seems that to Americans, most holidays are just release valves so people can do everything that they secretly want to do, but don't because they are afraid of that other people will think.

Now, I know that some people are going to disagree and say that holidays are not just times for debauchery, but for reflection and introspection. Many people have told me that holidays like Easter and Christmas are restrained, religious events. I'm sure that if the story of Jesus is correct, he would love sharing double billing with an overgrown rabbit and a fat man who breaks-and-enters into people's houses while they are sleeping on the day of his birth and resurrection.

Anyway, this leads us to today, Thanksgiving Day. This day, in it's purest form, is spent celebrating the beginning of the European massacre of the aboriginal residents of North America. In modern days, it has devolved into a bacchanalian day of gluttonous feasting and the watching of violent sports. Sure, before the average American family chokes down a tenth of their body weight in turkey and mashed potatoes, it is common for the family to come together and discuss what they are thankful for. They are thankful for the food, for the family… for everything that they have received throughout the year.

I wonder, however, if people are truly thankful for what they have in their lives, why only give thanks on this one day? I find this almost as absurd as a day like Valentine's Day.

Aah, Valentine's Day. The day in which people profess their love for their mate. In sentiment, it's harmless… but why would I want to show my love for Janet on a day prescribed to show that love? It's a day where you are practically forced to do something special for their spouse. How romantic is that?

On that note, how heartfelt is giving thanks on Thanksgiving?

Well, I do have many things that I am thankful for. I am thankful for the back-biting gossips that I have had the pleasure of working with… and I am thankful for the $100,000 that I am paying for an education that was practically worthless. I am thankful that I live in a state in which I cannot smoke anywhere, and to live in a neighborhood that is being overrun with yuppie scum. Sigh.

I know that I sound cynical, and in reality, there are a number of things, both trivial and important that I am thankful for.

I am happy to work for a company that appreciates what I do, and I am thankful that I work in a job where I am constantly learning new things. I am thankful that I live in a building with a great landlord, and I am thankful for the opportunities that have come my way in the last few years.

More importantly, I am happy that my relationship with my family, which has been strained in the past is a good one. I am extremely happy that I have my health, after a few asthma and bronchitis scares this year.

Most important, I am happy that I have Janet to share everything with.

Happy Thanksgiving.

There it was, 8:30 AM on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and two people had already asked me if I was going to cook a turkey. When I said that I wasn't, both of them were taken aback, paused for a few seconds, then asked, well, are you going somewhere where there will be turkey? And when I again said no, they stood there, speechless, looking at me until I broke the silence with "I'm not really a 'holiday' person." Now, when I say this, I don't say it because I'm trying to be difficult or perpetually anti-whatever the current topic of conversation is, and I'm not trying to use Thanksgiving and other assorted holidays as a soapbox for being unpatriotic or for spouting the whole "holidays are just a part of the retailers' master plan" anti-Hallmark rant against society, I just think that when someone doesn't want to to observe Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or Valentine's Day, or even their birthdays, that others should just accept it and move on, and not ask a million questions as to why they feel that way, or try to persuade them that they're missing out on something, or throw surprise parties for them much to the great annoyance of the person who just wants to be left alone, for god's sake; like the people who are the subject of various Dear Abby letter written by so-called do-gooders who think that it's just terrible that a little old lady would rather be alone with her cat and an egg salad sandwich on her birthday instead of surrounded by people and balloons and cake, and how they just don't understand, and how they just want to know how to make these people see the errors of their ways.

`Thanksgiving is totally about family, and when you have no family to get together with, why bother laying out a spread on the coffee table in front of the TV in a small studio apartment? And what makes this day different from any other day of the year, aside from the fact that we as an American people are supposed to "give thanks" for something, anything, like we can't do that on every other day of the year? Leave it to the supposedly too-busy American public to have to purposely set aside a certain day each year to remind themselves to reflect on whatever they're thankful for, just like they need all those other holidays in order to remember that they appreciate their mothers and fathers and veterans and the like.

Now, I'm not saying that this is true of all people, and I'm also not saying that I haven't taken part in all of the "can't we all just get along?" holiday dinners in the past. I've drawn the feathers on my fair share of happy hand-outline turkeys and pasted little cut-out fruit into many a jolly Horn O' Plenty. And the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? Ten years ago today I marched in it. Yep, as a member of the McDonald's All American Marching Band. Now there's a way to spend thanksgiving morning: lining up in parade formation at 4:00 AM to "walk through" the part where your group gets to do their little number in front of the grandstand and, consequently, the whole of the American viewing public. That was fun. I got to have my picture taken with Sheri Lewis and Lambchop.

Other than that one McDonald's Thanksgiving experience, I find this whole holiday to be tremendously blown out of proportion. It's like one gigantic fish story, wherein Americans assume that there was all kinds of major feasting and celebrating and tradition-forming and whatnot going on on one November 26 way back when, when in reality, the Pilgrims or whoever probably just had a regular old dinner, during which they just so happened to give thanks for something or other, on a day I'm pretty sure was not exactly November 26, a date most likely picked to ensure a convenient four-day weekend for most working Americans aside from me, who still has to get up at 6:30 AM tomorrow to go be bored for half a day or so, thank you very much. And if we're really following tradition, shouldn't we be being thankful for the success of our Founding Framers, and not that Aunt Rose finally found a cure for that bothersome rash?

Whatever the case, if I have to be thankful for something, even though I hate the mushy stuff, I would say that I'm thankful that I have Avery, because without him I'd have nothing at all.

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Posted in Topics of the Week (1990s).

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