Let Them Eat Turkey

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, it’s only right that we take a second to remember how it all began, and everything we have to look forward to come November 28. Apart from just the food. Although the “first” Thanksgiving was held in 1621, it was not until 1863 when President Abe Lincoln declared it an official U.S. holiday. That guy was so much more than just the Gettysburg address, am I right? And even after Lincoln’s proclamation, the actual date was still not set until 1941, when FDR signed into law that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. And because this is ‘Murica!, we tend to forget that others have tried to stake their claim on Thanksgiving first. Sorry Francisco de Coronado, your feast simply doesn’t cut it. You breaking bread with other settlers back in 1541 definitely does not count as a feast (said overeaters anonymous of America). And although Christianity has not so subtly placed its overtones into the holiday, this day was original meant as a secular celebration for the annual harvest. No one tell Sarah Palin that, though. She might just have to write another book titled Good Pies and Great Turkeys: Protecting the Heart of Thanksgiving. Away with you, atheists.

I have experienced some of my best memories on Thanksgiving. From that one time my aunt was simply way too drunk and fell off of a bicycle (that she was attempting to ride home) to remembering all of the wonderful people I have in my life, I have learned that at the heart of it, Thanksgiving is about family. My father has always told me that his favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. He loves that our family can come together, share some food and drink, and no one has to worry about exchanging presents and wondering if that sweater really is made of cashmere or not. For him, the day is all about simplicity. In my mother’s defense, however, he has never had to undergo the process of roasting and basting the turkey. But my dad also taught me that the day is more than just about our family. Every year for as long as I can remember, my family and I have gone out and bought an abundance of turkeys and other foods and have donated them to ensure other families get the traditional Thanksgiving meal as well. We have volunteered at shelters, handed out food, sorted donations, all so that my dad could teach me one amazing lesson that I will never forget: I have it so good. And I would do well to remember that every day of the year rather than dedicate one day to remembering my blessings.

My father grew up in Fiji – his father moved him and his two siblings to the United States when my dad was a teenager. Immigrating here, my dad had virtually nothing. He went to a high school where no one knew where the hell Fiji was, his skin color was different from the vast majority of students, and his jeans were always just a little too short. But my dad being my dad, he worked his ass off (and still does), and has built an incredible life for my mom, my sister, and me. He loves that Thanksgiving makes people remember what they have to be thankful for, he just wishes people would remember the premise behind this holiday year round.

This year, I have a lot to be happy for. I have had a lot to be happy for most years. I have had some bad things happen to me throughout my life, but in the end, I am still surrounded – for the most part – by good, hardworking, and kind people. People that are doing well and doing good.

I’m happy to see that others are receiving proper recognition on this day as well. Both Costco and Nordstrom are closing their stores on November 28, pulling out an old-fashioned trick, going against the grain of retail, and actually letting their employees spend the day with their families. Way to go, guys. Way to go. High fives all around. Other companies such as Walmart and Target are less understanding. The bottom line waits for no one. Capitalism must conquer all. Companies like these are staying open for Thanksgiving based on the claim that it’s the start of the “holiday season” and heaven forbid you arrive late to that party.

The White Rabbit

Ironically, however, the fact that these stores are remaining open is actually irking many customers. So much so that some shoppers have even started petitions to boycott retailers that are making their employees spend this day under a fluorescent lit store rather than at home with their loved ones. And people wonder why Costco has such a loyal customer base. Running a business that is good and moral isn’t rocket science, people.

So whether the highlight of the day for you is a football game, the Macy’s parade, the choice between apple or pumpkin pie, a nap post-coital turkey, or having a day off of work (hopefully) to spend with your loved ones, I wish you all an extremely happy Thanksgiving. Good pies and great turkeys, y’all!

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