Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Banned (?)

This another is a series of public service posts on holidays here in the United States. The first of these, Ban Halloween, sought to warn the public of the dangers on both sides of the problem to a bunch of costume wearing candy beggars. Today however, we take on a more serious issue, Thanksgiving.

Warning: Be aware that considerable irony and sarcasm will follow! 

Thanksgiving is the holiday traditionally celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It commemorates three days of feasting by early colonists to this country who after nine weeks of voyaging from Plymouth, England ended up in Plymouth, Massachusetts (coincidence, I think not). Having barely survived their first winter in this new land, they chose to celebrate that following fall. It is, in fact a tradition never repeated by them after the original gathering in 1621. 

Of course basing a holiday on a celebration by old white people seems doomed on the face of it, especially when one considers the recent treatment of our Founding Fathers. Neither can I find any great need to celebrate the traditions of the same people who gave us the sham trials and witch burnings in Salem, MA only some 70 years later. If this were not enough, Thanksgiving was in fact considered a religious holiday, its original purpose allowing these colonists to thank GOD for bringing them through the previous winter. What's more, the religious nature of this celebration involved thanking only a Christian God; ignoring the practices of any other religion. 

How anyone can therefore consider having a national holiday with religious overtones that ignores the cultural and religious diversity that has become so dear to the ruling elite is simply beyond me? Consider if you will as well, that while neighboring Native Americans (the Waupanoag tribe) were the architects of this colony's survival and were invited to that original celebration; that these same Native Americans were, like most others in this country, later chased from their homes and the greater part of their lands by the very greedy colonists that they saved ... hardly something to commemorate with pride. 

If this typical treatment by a European, white, invading population were not enough to see this practice ended once and for all, consider if you will the treatment of Turkeys as the centerpiece of the menu on this so-called day of thanksgiving. Turkeys, for those of you who didn't know, were once very close to being the national symbol of the United States. They even found support in this effort by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, the eagle being considered little more than a glorified vulture by this early patriot. While perhaps not the brightest of birds, the turkey nevertheless can offer a great display and a substance that it produces (tryptophan), induces the need to sleep in humans. (Come to think of it, turkeys seem a lot like politicians, don't they?) How then can any holiday be celebrated by the murder, butchering, and consumption of such a national icon (turkeys I mean, not politicians)

And they are not alone! Along with turkey, many families in this country will serve goose, duck, and even ham (another political reference?) at these celebratory meals. How can PETA stand idly by as thousands of our animal friends are disposed of (probably inhumanely) in the name of a holiday devoted to "thanks" in this country? Is this in fact how we choose to celebrate the bounty of Mother Nature? 

The only redeeming thing that this holiday may in fact offer is that it was created as a national holiday in 1863 by progressive political hero President Abraham Lincoln. Other than that, the only thing that it has going for it is its stimulation of a depressed airline industry as the largest travel holiday of the year, that it provides a platform for the non-stop watching of parades and football games on television (providing yet further opportunity for laziness and gluttony), and of course that it is followed by "Black Friday" the traditional opening day of Christmas consumerism. 

We must therefore ask ourselves; what in the end is the Thanksgiving holiday in this country about? It appears to this writer as nothing more than a celebration of racism, gluttony (not to mention obesity), and the murder of our fellow creatures on the planet. As such, it has no place in the caring, politically correct, and progressive society that we apparently long to become. And so I say to those of you choosing to celebrate tomorrow with family and friends, gathering around a table to once more give thanks in 2009 (a year that may have less reasons than many to do so):

"Save me one of those drumsticks, will ya?"

Happy Thanksgiving


Dawn Wolf said...

“First, I love your words. I appreciate your blog whether I agree with you or not. Keep 'em coming.” -Dawn Wolf

I am an African Absaroka Muskogee Indian. Nothing offensive in here, but the Native story about Thanksgiving is nothing like you describe. We always hear the story of the betrayal, and the murder celebration of the immigrants. I appreciate your honesty.

I know a little about Turkey medicine. My friend Pam is an Eastern Band Cherokee. She taught Turkey medicine to me one day in the mountains of Virginia. I knew medicine was coming my way on the trip to the mountains. I was looking for it the whole ride up to the mountains. Just as we got to her property a large turkey walked out of the woods and collapsed dead. We stopped the car, and walked to his body, and left tobacco offerings with our prayers.

"What do we do with him?" Pam asked.

"Take him to the house and listen." I said.

During the following ceremony Turkey’s spirit, in return, allowed us to take the wings, tail feathers, and the necklace the Turkey wore. We buried the Turkey in the northern part of the Medicine Wheel we had earlier built on the land. The necklace Turkey wore was given to me. Pam explained that hunters have another name for it, but she learned from watching their ceremonies their necklace under their beaks was a Medicine necklace with its own powers. Turkey’s are Keepers of Ceremony!

Pam would travel alone into the mountains and sit. She can become a ghost in the forest. Turkeys would land unaware of her and perform ceremonial dances as the sun set. She said one had to be completely still. Turkey People are very sensitive to movements subtle or not. Turkeys have a deep sense of ceremony. Deep in their dances they are balanced and attuned to the subtle elements at work around them. It is a natural teaching for the People, and by People, since we are talking about the colonial times; I am talking about Turtle Island’s indigenous people's relationship with living things, and our Grandmother Earth.

The immigrants remain, to this day, outside of these things for the most part and continually legislate and make laws from a framework that is disconnected from the subtle elements that move, engage, and try, in this day and age, to balance everything. Their paradigms as you point out have taught billions of people for the last few centuries their ways, and we all participate in the process of disrespecting our Earth, shortening our time on Earth, and neglecting our spiritual responsibilities to each other.

These are my words. Gregory E. Woods, (Dawn Wolf) Keeper of Stories

Tim Higgins said...

Dawn Wolf,

It does not surprise me that the Native American version of Thanksgiving is far different, as it is not a story passed down by generations of evil European conquerors. :-)

That being said, it appears that your story relates to the Thanksgiving ceremony that was held in Virginia, rather than that of Mass. fame.

There is also a story of Thanksgiving that comes out of the early days of the Spanish exploration of Texas that I found in my researches.

Unfortunately the stories in these traditions have little to do with our current Thanksgiving. We pay little homage to our own ancestors or yours and little thanks to the spirit of the turkey or that of the "Great Spirit" in all of its forms.

Dawn Wolf said...

I would love to hear the Texas story and more of your insights on the subject. I have accepted the conquest and the enormous pain it left in the soul of my people as a healer. It is quite a process learning to love out of dark elements that ride the beauty of one's soul out of context, out of its true form into a defensive hostile posture. In that spirit I would love to hear your insights into race, relationship, cigars, politics, etc. Your voice honest, funny, and clear is easy on the ear. All of our stories are important. None are greater than the other. Each holds pieces of what the other needs to grow into the true self.

Now the honoring of the Turkey, or any animal is a common theme across Turtle Island.- Gregory

Tim Higgins said...

Dawn Wolf,

I am happy to provide the link to the story of the first Thanksgiving in Texas:

It is obvious that you a person to be taken seriously and that these things are of great meaning to you. I honor that.

As for my voice, you give far too much credit to the discordant clang of a cymbal in the orchestra of opinion.

Roland Hansen said...

I'll just cut to the chase and holler out:


Roland Hansen said...

Oh, btw, turkey, I want a wing.

Tim Higgins said...


Back at you sir!

And as to bit of the bird you are looking for, should we make it a left wing, or are you non-partisan when it comes to turkey appendages?

Roland Hansen said...

Mi Amigo Tim,
Right, left, correct, or wrong. It's all good eatin'.
Now then, how about the west wing?

The West Wing

Tim Higgins said...

West Wing, hmmm ...

Loved the show, but skeptical of any occupant thereof.

Personally, I prefer dinosaur wings, the Buffalo version of this avian appendage.

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Amigo Tim,

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you sir!

(For the record, I always start with the neck and finish with a thigh in my mouth)


Roland Hansen said...

Why Z!
Whatever do you mean?