Thanksgiving: A Sham in the Making

As another inanely celebratory Thanksgiving passes, the wandering depths of my mind forsook the tempting notion to estimate the amount of weight I had gained to instead engage in a more worthy, though perhaps not more pressing matter: whether or not Thanksgiving is truly a holiday worthy to be celebrated on a national scale. I says no, for a holiday which glorifies the mass over-consumption of food, which glosses over flagrant historical inaccuracies, and which demands thousands of families, half of them broken, to be painfully reunited annually is not a travesty that should be impressed upon a nation so willing to tout its open-mindedness and guaranteed freedoms.

For anyone who has ever attended a Thanksgiving dinner, one conclusion would immediately form in the mind of any conscious individual- that is, the amount of food on the table would be enough to feed the starving multitudes of a third-world country for at least a month. The inundation of missile-sized turkeys, bombarded with truckloads of mashed potatoes and heavy gravy, not only flaunts an incredible disregard for the wastefulness of overproduction, but also adds gales of oxygen to America's already inflamed weight epidemics. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, obesity in children and adolescents has jumped so dramatically over the past decades that now 16 to 33 percent of young people are considered to suffer from obesity. The ill effects of obesity manifest themselves in both physical and emotional monstrosities, including diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and even obsessive compulsive disorder. Though Thanksgiving should not be the sole scapegoat for these problems, it in part promotes a bloated disrespect towards the compelling issues at hand and therefore should not be encouraged.

In hundreds of schoolrooms across our country, children of gullible ages are taught the mythic Thanksgiving tale of friendly Native Americans sitting down to dine with peace-loving pilgrims for their first harmonious meeting. What the instructors of elementary history fail to mention, however, is that the first Thanksgiving was probably one of the only episodes where the puritanical emigrants of Britain lowered their noses enough to associate with people they considered "savage barbarians." Satisfied with gleaning Squanto's effective methods for agricultural improvement, the settlers' gratitude was soon transformed into cruel mistreatment of epic proportions towards the hapless natives. Yet, there still remains adults to this day who naively believe in the warm, congenial spirit of Thanksgiving, ignorant to the fact that the epilogue of that merry tale was later marred by innumerable accounts of iniquity, violence, and bloodshed. This blatant covering up of post-Thanksgiving horrors must be desisted at once, for those who sugarcoat history are undoubtedly doomed to receive far more bitter outcomes later on; but, if the celebration of Thanksgiving is to be continued, that lesson will not be easily learned.

As America's divorce rate hovers tentatively at fifty percent, families are gradually becoming more complex in their make up than the idealized nuclear family of a father, a mother, and 2.5 children. In addition, it is more than likely that no matter what type of family one grows up in-nuclear, extended, blended, or otherwise-the level of earnest communication that transpires in the average household has nowadays degenerated to pathetically low amounts. In our current climate of rampant domestic dysfunction, family gatherings such as Thanksgiving have become less about strengthening familial bonds and more about serving as a furnace pit of nervous tensions and awkward laughter, or a soapbox for screeching accusations and debates. To sustain this family function as an archetypal norm, when in fact families have not been "normal" for a long while, is to impose straight-jacket and blind-sighted traditions on a society which can no longer fit into those binds.

I do not say that Thanksgiving is not well meaning. I do not disagree that the original intent of Thanksgiving-to put aside a day every year and gather together to express our gratitude-is by any means wrong. Yet I do vehemently believe that Thanksgiving's noble purpose has been vastly altered, watered down, and butchered by the grievances I have so passionately enumerated. Why not let us act as true men and women, then, and engage in the far more worthy enterprise of living each day in the gentle spirit of gratitude, instead of conducting ourselves, in a manner not unlike ignorant beasts, in the pitiful sport of Thanksgiving?