And a Happy Turkey Day to all our Readers

When this post goes live it will be Thanksgiving Day in the USA, a sacred tradition which is typically observed by millions of Americans attempting to eat themselves into a coma while tolerating relatives they would normally prefer to avoid. Or at least it seems that way.

There are harvest festivals in a lot of places and cultures, of course, but the US version (and I believe the Canadian which is about a month earlier thanks to the shorter growing seasons up there) has a big emphasis on being thankful for having whatever it is you’ve got – usually a whole lot of food along with decent accommodations (especially compared to what people’s lives used to be like), warmth, indoor plumbing, and all that other good stuff.

It’s not a bad way to look at things.

In my experience people who look at their lives and see only what they don’t have tend to be rather bitter and start thinking they deserve to have all that other stuff. People who look at their lives and see what they do have tend to be more inclined to both accept that sometimes you don’t get everything you want (which is not to say I’d object to one of those ridiculously immense lottery jackpots) and to work for the things they really do want. And people who have worked for something and achieved it are usually much happier with their lives and what they have and have done than people who just get whatever handed to them.

We humans seem to have a problem valuing things we don’t feel we’ve earned.

Gifts, obviously, are different – but at the same time, who hasn’t felt that if they’re given something they should in some way give something of equal value if not in return, then at an appropriate time in the future? It’s probably the same deep-seated urges that go with the resentment when someone gets a promotion they clearly didn’t earn. And may explain the way the people who win those ridiculous lottery jackpots have a tendency to blow it all in a short time frame.

This may also be why we feel kind of cheated when an Act of Author saves the hero and fixes everything too easily: the hero didn’t have to work for the victory, so it doesn’t feel right. Some deity showing up and saying, “Oh, you’re a good boy who sacrifices a goat every full moon, you can have a wonderful life with the lady of your dreams” just doesn’t cut it – it’s the fantasy equivalent of “… and he woke up and it was all a horrible dream”. Didn’t a big name TV drama kill itself with a plotline that pulled that stunt?

Anyway, even the uber-commercialized American Turkey Day ritual of eating way too much and spending the rest of the day groaning about an overloaded stomach has its good points: too often we don’t take time to appreciate meals. I know I’m guilty of this one: I tend to eat snacks most of the day and keep a stash of mostly healthy food so I actually snack healthy (mostly). But I don’t usually take the time to actually appreciate the food. It’s something that’s eaten during the day because it’s food time (to be fair, my hunger response is pretty much hosed, so I’d likely forget to eat if I didn’t have food times). Actually savoring the taste? I usually don’t.

Thanksgiving with its emphasis on food is a good reason to slow down and taste the turkey. Or whatever else it is that’s being eaten.

13 comments

  1. My daughter-in-law has an in home daycare, actually a preschool as she is a certified teacher.
    She has eight kids ranging from almost newborn to about to enter kindergarten.
    Their parents are all essential under current rules, so she is as well.
    For the last ten years I always pay them a visit for a long weekend right before Thanksgiving.
    One thing she does is put on a Thanksgiving lunch for kids and their families. She takes the older kids to buy a turkey and all the fixings then she and the kids host the lunch for at least one and usually both the parents. It did happen this year with appropriate safeguards. Eighteen people in attendance so I’m not gonn say where it took place as although everyone was safe it probably broke a rule or two.
    Wearing my Grampa Larry hat ( I seem to always identify as some poor relation or other) my responsibility is and has always been to disassemble the bird, a twenty pounder this year. Job while in high school was in a bakery so learned the knack of handling hot foodstuff. Later while working for C&NW the union local would host a whole hog roast for the gang and because of that knack I’d developed (and because they knew I had some very sharp knives and knew how to use them) my job was to hack off pig parts. Funny thing, there are pieces of pig that never seem to make it to the serving platters. Curious that.
    And today on the holiday itself I shall dine at my local fraternal organization for a traditional Thanksgiving feast along with a bunch of my poker playing reprobate buddies.
    And Happy Holidays to y’all from Bama country.

    1. Thank you!

      We’ve had a quiet day – just me and the Husband. Roasted a turkey breast (and have a crapload of leftover turkey), some potatoes, nuked a packet of steam-in-the-bag beans and added some butter and bacon bits, and hotted up some bottled gravy. Thanksgiving lite, for when you don’t have time for hours of preparation and cooking.

      It worked pretty well, too.

      As long as everyone has a good day, all is good. I’m starting to think my holiday greetings should be “May 2020 be the worst year of your life.”

  2. Just my daughter and myself for the feast – as the elderly neighbors whom we usually have Thanksgiving with are all health-compromised. Doesn’t bother me at all – there were years when I basically had a tiny gourmet Thanksgiving supper all to myself, with a rock Cornish game hen and some goodies from the very upscale local market that I never would have purchased ordinarily.
    A brined turkey breast, streuseled sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and roast Brussels sprouts, with pear-current conserve and pumpkin pie for afters. It’s all good.

    1. Thanksgiving for two sounds pretty good to me! It’s what the Husband and I usually do – we’re not big on holidays but we make a bit of an effort for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

      1. Thanks, Kate … well, it’s about 2 1/3, since the Daughter Unit’s pregnancy is perking along nicely. We’ll see how the Baby Unit likes turkey, stuffing, etc. in about an hour or so.

  3. Gratitude is simple in concept but it isn’t easy to do. I have to remind myself to be grateful for all the blessings in this life.

    Without gratitude, there is no appreciation.

    1. It isn’t easy. It’s a lot easier to focus on what you think is missing from your life than it is to be thankful for the good things you’ve got – I know I have issues with it. I guess it partly comes with having the ambition and drive to try to improve on your life: if you can imagine something better it’s not as easy to be grateful for what you have.

  4. That was “Who shot JR?”, and arguably the writers wrote that season-long stunt because the show was really already flatlined, thus it was along the lines of Fonzi jumping the shark, i.e. a sign that the story had really been over for a while.

    1. Honestly, I never watched the thing, so I don’t really remember other than there was quite a lot of ridicule over the whole mess.

      Fonzi at least had a certain amount of personal charm. I don’t recall any of the characters of that mess being described as charming. It sounded more like whoever created it went to a lot of trouble to ensure that the characters were all as repellant as humanly possible.

  5. We’re doing turkey and fixings, with the ten people who live here (yes, ten, just an average household by regional standards). This year we’re very grateful that when it became clear exactly nine years ago Saturday that Dad’s short term memory was gone and he couldn’t be left alone for extended periods of time or manage his own meds that we moved to my folks’ and kept him at home.

    Nine years ago we had a new baby girl, Dad had a cold, Mom came to visit on Friday, and Dad called the sheriff on Saturday in the wee hours and reported her missing. Honestly, none of us expected he’d still be alive this many years later, and if we’d done the normal thing and institutionalized him, he wouldn’t be. Covid has made it that much more important to keep them home.

    1. I’m glad your Dad is still relatively healthy and from the sound of it doing pretty well. The virus has been rough on the elderly and immune-compromised.

  6. Normally, the family (except for Mom) goes out to a movie, we spend the day being happy with each other, then doing the Christmas tree setup.

    Oddly enough, with the Crow Flu ravaging out and probably destroying the entertainment industry, it was somewhat a better day today. I actually cooked my first ever batch of waffles, took a three mile walk, had a decent amount of turkey and an indecent amount of stuffing, and in general it was rather low key today.

    Not bad, all things considered.

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