I was gonna' go off on the genocide of the indigenous peoples of this continent, but held back. I don't think Thanksgiving is as directly associated with that as Columbus day is. Thanksgiving is a holiday that we have used to try and convince ourselves that the local tribes and the settlers partied as one.
It was Abraham Lincoln that made Thanksgiving an annual celebration. In fact before that there were many "Thanksgivings" usually as the result and in celebration of a bountiful harvest.
From most accounts there were Native Americans at the "first" Thanksgiving in Plymouth, the Wampanoags to be exact, but it certainly wasn't the pageant affair we see described in children's books. In fact it is disputed if the Wampanoags were invited or simply happened upon the gathering of feasting and games after hearing the gun-shots of target shooting. The Wampanoag may have even had something to be thankful for in that if the settlers had had a good harvest that meant that maybe they would refrain from looting their own food storages that winter.
Thanksgiving means a lot of different things to people. To me it is a bit of stress free holiday with little commercialism. Sure there is Black Friday and it seems to get worse every year with people now being pulled away from their families to report for work at 10 PM at retail giants like Target. But for my family it has always been not much more than a day to spend in each other's company overeating. Pretty simple really. We don't dwell on tales of Pilgrims in the cool looking Ritchie Blackmore hats or any of that Disney bullshit. When I have the cash I donate what I can to make sure another family is able to have a celebration of their own. This year I sponsored a family breakfast through Whole Foods.
When we were young punx and maybe couldn't get together with our blood family we'd pull all the wayward punx with nowhere to go together for a bountiful feast and a night of heavy, festive drinking!
I remember the first year I had moved to the city and because of work or low funds or both I couldn't make it back to my Dad's. There were a bunch of us and we pooled our resources for a hell of a punk rock feast. Having spent most of my holiday's in small towns I had no idea that the bars opened later that night in the big city! That was dangerous, we were already hammered before we caught the bus to some club somewhere that we had no business as spikey punk rockers being at. All I really remember was college girls that were interested in our hair and pissed off college dudes that wanted to pummel us. We lived for that adventure back then. Anyway Justin Bartchy almost burned down the apartment after we got home. We all passed out and he tried to re-heat some stuffed peppers but soon passed out himself. I remember waking to the entire apartment being filled with smoke has everyone was busy sawing logs in their drunken slumber. The peppers were incinerated and the element in the oven actually burned out, maybe that is what saved us from a full blown fire.
Now that I am walking down memory lane I recall that the day started out with fire as well. Greg and I shared a room and we were sleeping off the previous night's drunk when I remember waking to yelling in the hall and the sound of running and the back door slamming. I jumped out of bed to look out the window to see what was going on as there was still a terrible amount of commotion. By now Greg was up too and I can remember how funny he looked with his curly,bright red, fro bi-hawks all jacked up from having slept on them all night. We both stared out the window in utter amazement as we watched some dude pour gas out of a milk jug all over the car in the back and light it on fire! Holy FUCK! We stood there, mouths agape and heads still light and spinning from the drunk we were trying to sleep off as the flames engulfed the vehicle.
"Dude...Should we call the fire department?"
"Dude...I dunno...What do you think?"
"I dunno dude..."
See, we were punk rock and not into cops (still aren't) or even the fire department as even it represented some sort of authority.
"I here sirens dude"
That settled it, we were off the hook, someone with a more functioning brain than the two of us put together called it in. They got there in no time, the fire house was like two blocks away. Hell they might even have sniffed this one out it was so close. When they arrived one fire fighter, shirtless in the snow, jumped up on the car and bashed out the windows with an axe. It was pretty bad ass! I had lived in the city just over a month and to me this represented what the city was all about. It was unpredictable and dangerous.
But, things have changed and many of us have our own families now. I'm not so into danger and I know when to call the fire department. Even as my own family expanded it was always to fun have someone outside the family over. As we've gotten older it seems like most have someplace inviting to spend the day and usually it just my kin.
I am sure the young punx keep the traditions alive and congregate for food, drink and companionship.
My family has recently gone through some major changes and I am looking forward to having my brother and my Dad come over. The weather is supposed to be nice so maybe we can take the kids to the park and toss the football around for awhile.
Have a good time whether you are getting together with family, friends or both. Be thankful to each other for our love and companionship. If you can try to get some supplies down to the Occupy folks in whatever city you are in. I bet they'd welcome anything you can offer.
Fire up the oven! Here comes the Tofurkey! Yum!