Who ordered the scrambled brains?

"More misunderstood musings of a moron" —Tara

Thanksgiving: The Next Generation

I spent Thanksgiving morning relaxing the way only true intellectuals would: watching old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It got me wondering if Data, Worf or Guinan ever sat down to a Thanksgiving meal. I determined not, but it made me appreciate Thanksgiving in a new light. Thanksgiving isn’t just a day you take off from work and eat with your family. All across the country do families gather and have turkey, largely without regard to ethnic background. It’s a national institution, a defining element of American culture. Ostensibly they gather to celebrate the arrival of the pilgrims (and smallpox), but no one really thinks about that (at least no educated person). Thanksgiving holiday means a four-day weekend. Four days to let loose and par-tay. So why do people invariably use that weekend to see family and eat only the traditional Thanksgiving meal, instead of hosting their own private 96-hour Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon?

Do people feel proud to participate and identify with American culture? (Bleah.) Take this recent Thanksgiving toast by Bush the Torturer:

“Thanksgiving! Yeah! America rules! I give thanks to American hegemony! To the malleability of rural-America! To Football! Nukes! Torture! Christianity! Republicans! Gluttony! Institutionalized socioeconomic oppression! Thanksgiving, whoooo-wheeee! We raped and pillaged and diseased the natives in the 16th century! Let’s do it again this century! Cheers and amen! God bless America and no one else! I hate the rest of the planet!”

Or do people just like to meet up with family? If so, why all the pomp and circumstance on the fourth Thursday of November? Do people really like turkey and mashed potatoes, but need an excuse to go through all the work required to make such a meal? I don’t know. I’m thinking it’s socially expected and is reinforced by the media and our consumer culture. When you’re getting ready for the four-day weekend on Wednesday, the question will inevitably be asked what you are doing on Thanksgiving. Flip on the tube and you’ll see ads for free turkeys if you buy a cartful of obesity-enhancing groceries. Or feel good local news reports tracking TurkeyWatch 9000. And think of all the groups that benefit. Besides turkey farmers, politicians, the NFL, fitness-related businesses (the Yoga Booty Ballet informercial just came on, I kid you not)… And without Thanksgiving, there would be no Black Friday, which would no doubt give H. Lee Scott head(and stomach)aches.

Has Thanksgiving only gotten so huge because of the mental cue it provides about the “holiday season”. I mean, how else would people know when to put up blinking lights on their house, and miniature pine tree in the living room adorned with more blinking lights.

Natalie argued that having such holidays gives people something to look forward to. A plausible reason in a society where people live (or desire to live) their days behind Chanel shades and iPods and cell phones, windows up in air-conditioned Hummers, protectively wrapped in Diesel or Juicy. Perhaps Thanksgiving is a break in the monotony, one of the few days of the year when it’s OK to let your guard down and be giddy about engorging yourself.

Whatever the reason, I doubt we’ll be celebrating it in the 24th century. By then I hope we’ll realize the folly of American values and history. It shouldn’t be too hard to face the music when we’re all part of the country Earth (or the United Federation of Planets). And we’re all of mixed race anwyay. So from that perspective, Thanksgiving is no different than than any other historic cultural event that will eventually be outdated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a product of American culture, and though I try to expand my perspecitve beyond it, I do certainly live within it’s framework. Thanksgiving dinner was magnifique. And you know that if I wasn’t flat broke I would have been at Circuit City at 4am waiting to get that $199 laptop. Now that was a good deal. But I made the best of my situation, with the help of Worf, Data, Guinan, and the wacky zany mishaps they never fail to get themselves into.

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1 Comment

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marcus said:

i definitely won’t mind a Star Trek: TNG Marathon over the Tday weekend. Although, a part of your post reinforces a thought that I had over this weekend…

A couple of days ago, on the news, there were some hoo-ra-raah in the Boston (or Vermont) area regarding the issue of calling a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree. Christians should know that the fabled tree is not even close to anything that Jesus did at all while he was prowling the earth. The cross with which he was crucified was not made of fir tree. …but I digress.

Basically, I wondered…if we were to take a Gallup Poll to determine which of the following religions is most favorable within the 18-45 age group…I have a feeling that Christianity will fall within the least favorable.

Sorry, just thought I would share the ramblings inside my brain. In any case, I blame the Republicans for this.


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