Tuesday, November 20, 2007

thanksgiving, part one: honesty

Thanksgiving, a time to kill domesticated animals en masse, to demonstrate to ourselves that we can throw away more food in a day than many people around the world see in a month, and to become familiar with the combined deleterious effects of tryptophan and alcohol poisoning. Combine all of this with sharing a table with people you did not choose as friends but know through the accident of birth, and you have the makings for a day to be remembered for years. December 7, 1941, is also a day remembered for years.

That Holly Hunter movie, Home for the Holidays, accurately depicts most Thanksgivings. There is always an undercurrent of ultimate devotion, albeit like a dog is devoted to his owner through a leash, but devotion none the less. The truer aspect is that when choices were available through the preceding months, they were consistently exercised to stay away from these people. Yes, there are generational bonds that sometimes transcend closed doors and burned hearts – but, truthfully, those relationships are compromised because of their (necessary) blind devotion to their children. Want to see true generational relations? Watch grandparents with adult grandchildren.

Do holidays bring families together? Yes. So do funerals and other calamities in life. Some of us gravitate towards family because there is supposedly this unbreakable bound, some underlying level of trust that means no matter the issue, no matter the real or perceived red letter there will allows be an open door. Then some red letter does come to be attached, and sometimes those families ostracize. Then the true meaning of holidays becomes known.

Holidays are for reminding one another of bonds present, nor bonds past. Holidays future may have different bonds than today. Holidays are funerals only for the turkey, and dead bonds should not be honored. In fact, it is a dishonor to relationships that no longer hold love or respect to be presented across a table as if those things still existed. It is a time to look at a dying relationship and recognize it for what it once it was and what it presently is, not to galvanize either the present or future. If it was vibrant yesterday and dying today, it will be dead tomorrow. Enjoy the last vestiges, the life’s breath that is fading. Use the time to stop the grinding, yes, but do not share false love. That is insulting to an honest memory.

In the manner Holidays are celebrated, it is somehow fitting to kill an animal and make it pretty for the table, to tear into the cooked flesh, and consume it with gusto. But you walk away from the table, the bones remain there. Perhaps some chunks of meat go into a bag for you to consume later. Do not do all the disservice of taking the bones with you. Dead animals, dead or dying relations: recognize them for what they are; do not exhibit false sincerity. Leave it at the table. Better yet, eat somewhere else. The food will taste better.

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