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A Turkey By Any Other Name

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving is in trouble. First, there’s the unpleasantness of its origins. We’ve so tied Thanksgiving to Americas founding myth that, as we become more conscious of the atrocities committed against the Native Americans, it becomes harder to stomach. Secondly, the meal has become, for some, a chore. Many love turkey with all the fixings, but having to produce that for a dozen or more relatives can be stressful. Finally, Thanksgiving has become stale. It is a day of feasting, but the meaning isn’t clear, and except for grand dad’s speech before digging in, we don’t really take the time to be thankful for what we have. When do we have the time? The potatoes are going to burn, the kids can’t decide on a movie to watch, and uncle Harry is hitting on his sister-in-law again.

Thanksgiving needs a makeover. A rebranding. Here’s what I propose.

Thanksgiving Day

After umpteen repetitions, words and images tend to lose their meaning. That is why Pepsi has a new logo every 5 years. Traditions can be the same thing. What was once a comforting ritual can become repetitive, to the point where you are going through the motions. A slight change of emphasis can make all the difference. Imagine that the day isn’t named “Thanksgiving”. Instead it is designated to giving thanks. Just as Veterans Day isn’t named “Veterans”, having a slight twist here will change the way we think of it.

Also, it will relieve the burden on on the feast. We are no longer a country of farmers, and celebrating the harvest seems a little antiquated. Yes, farms are important, even in post-industrial America. In fact, farms large and small might be more important now that they have been in generations. But there are plenty of things to be thankful for. We all have our own list. Why shouldn’t we each have an opportunity to appreciate those things the way we want. Thanksgiving was about turkey. Thanksgiving Day is about whatever allows you to grateful for what you have. If that is turkey, then so be it. If that is a polar bear plunge, more power to you.

Finally, the new Thanksgiving Day will shift focus away from the original “pilgrims and natives” narrative. I’m not saying we should whitewash history, but we’ve got Columbus day to feel terrible about the raping of an entire continent. Thanksgiving Day can be more about the now. Every year’s celebration can be different, because as long as we’re on the right side of the dirt we always have new things to be thankful for.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving the old fashioned way. But we’ve done that. And lets face it, they sell turkeys 365 days a year. We can eat those any time we like. Lets bring this holiday into the 21st century by shifting the focus from the meal to the toast.

Categories: Uncategorized
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