Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving for Dummies

Many of my readers are outside the USA, even outside North America, and don't have all the insights I do, into the customs, rituals, practices, norms, predelictions, of the local folk. Not that the USA is defined by any one culture. It's a synergetic stew.

Apropos of today, Thanksgiving, do a google search on turducken (or follow my link), to get some appreciation for the science and topology of "stuffing." In this example, we stuff a bird inside a bird inside a bird, plus some put a ham at the core.

Another aspect of Thanksgiving, or Turkey Day as some call it (Ben Franklin speculated this could become the national bird -- and he was right on many levels), is traveling long distances. For example, I've put over 300 miles on my Subaru since yesterday, and have a lot more to go.

Thanksgiving is a lot about Anglo-Americans feeling grateful for the hospitality they received from the Native Americans, before the immigration pressures became enormous and tribal lands were extensively re-zoned at gun point.

Native Americans had many strong, proud, and already well-established cultures in this age, shortly after the so-called New World became popularly known to landlubbers. The Europeans romanticized them, even learned from them; at first, basic survival skills, and later some ideas about self-government. By the time we get to Mark Twain's unflattering portrayal, some centuries later, the stereotype is scarcely recognizable.

Today, many in North America are discovering more about their heritage, are learning that native cultures have twisted many strands into our rope. The health of the tribes, though improving thanks to casinos, is still in a precarious state and continues to suffer from neglect.

Yes, Anglo-Americans have been slow on the uptake (among the last to "get it" about living ecologically for example), which is why Thanksgiving continues to be one of our most important national holidays. We're reminded of who we really are, and might therefore become, as Americans: proud and strong, more like our ancestors.