Friday, November 13, 2015

Incessant Divagation

by Rick Jones, Husband of the Minister's Wife

I feel a bit hypocritical mentioning the word “Christmas” in this article. It's not because some folks consider it a politically incorrect term – freedom of speech, despite the squawking of the Thought Police, basically means that I have the right to say what I want to say, not that they have the right to hear only what they want to hear. And freedom of religion doesn't guarantee freedom from hearing about religion.

But I have a general policy of not focusing attention on Christmas until after Thanksgiving is done. I'm bothered by Christmas-themed commercials appearing at the beginning of November. These days, two signs that Thanksgiving is approaching are [1] Christmas merchandise floods the stores and [2] Halloween candy is on sale at 75% off. I used to like that second sign, but that was before I became diabetic. And it may be one reason why I became diabetic. When I was a kid, I didn't go trick-or-treating with a little plastic pumpkin-shaped pail. I used a big paper grocery sack, and stayed out until it was about 2/3 filled. If necessary, I'd go back home and set out again in a second costume. Later that night I observed the “fall asleep while eating candy from the bag by my bed” tradition. That was followed by the “wake up thinking I'm going to throw up” tradition the following morning, at which time I swore to myself that I'd never indulge in such gluttony again. And. I always kept that promise . . . until the following October . . .

I also remember Thanksgiving Day parades where the very last float featured jolly old Saint Nicholas, who was enough of a gentleman to give Tom Turkey and the Pilgrims time to shine before making an appearance. Now, he invades the scene so quickly you can barely find a pumpkin pie for all the candy cane displays. The Great Pumpkin and Santa Claus are warring like Coke and Pepsi; Tom Turkey gets trampled in the frenzy.

The Cola Wars are a fitting analogy for the Thanksgiving situation. I don't care for Halloween any more, so it's Pepsi. I like Christmas, and it's still the more popular holiday of the two, so it's Coke. But Thanksgiving is like a third brand, let's say Royal Crown [better known as “RC”]: It can't garner as much shelf space, but I prefer it to the “big boys”.

There is a quality to Thanksgiving that isn't emphasized in the other two holidays. All three talk about receiving great bounty – that is, getting stuff. All three feature food – that is, getting stuffed. And none of them give more than a token nod to eating responsibly [which is why I hate seeing the scale at the doctor's office in January]. But Thanksgiving, well, it still has the emphasis on GIVING THANKS. On viewing bounty as a blessing, not an entitlement. On expressing not only gladness, but gratitude. On acknowledging the Giver, not just the gifts. So far, that hasn't been lost in all the “extras” attached to the day. We've all heard the fuss about whether or not to say “Merry Christmas” or “Season's Greetings”, but I am bothered when people refer to Thanksgiving as “Turkey Day” – 

Not that I aggressively campaign to keep Thanksgiving “pure”. I enjoy watching football while going back for thirds [or fourths] on turkey – and I'm thankful that our Founding Fathers didn't ratify Ben Franklin's suggestion that our national bird should be the turkey instead of the bald eagle. Then turkeys may have become a protected species and eating them would be illegal. It does seem a bit ironic that in the United States we can kill and eat all the turkeys we want to, and there are plenty if them. But the bald eagle, with official protection from the federal government, was close to dying out in the continental U. S. in the 1950s. Not that the Pilgrims ate much turkey. The first-hand accounts of early Thanksgiving meals include menu items like roasted carrier pigeon and smoked eel. I think I prefer the holiday mascot being Tom Turkey rather than Edgar Eel.

1 comment:

  1. Rick,
    I do recall the two grocery sacks of candy back the 60s. Falling asleep watching real monster movies (Dracula, Werewolf, etc). Ben Franklin was talking about the American wild turkey and each Thanksgiving I still indulge in that bird as well. But then I also find room for RC on the shelf, and the peanuts to put in it, but bottles are getting hard to come by.

    You are correct about the Christmas stuff coming out way too soon, seems like just after Labor Day. Santa gets the main media and Christ is almost never mentioned anymore. Seems like there is something fundamentally wrong with Alvin the singing rodent sitting on the counter and Christ, God's gift the world, being stuck at the back of isle 5. But that's just how I see things.