If you really think about it, ‘Thanksgiving’ is pretty weird

There’s just something about stuffing our faces until our pants burst, then falling asleep on the couch while watching football that just screams ‘America’ (for better or worse).  Certainly, Americans weren’t the first to celebrate the harvest, nor did we invent the idea of gorging yourself on the fruits of your labor.  But there’s something so ‘American‘ about the holiday of Thanksgiving (yes, I know there is also Canadian Thanksgiving), that it’s a bit comical when you think about it.

Forget about just having a nice meal with your family.  It’s got to be a nice, LARGE meal with your family.  You had a 12 lb Turkey?  My family had a 20 lb Turducken…with a honey-glazed, spiral-sliced ham chaser.   Mashed potatoes and corn…no sweet potatoes?  That’s it? Were you eating alone?  You had a pumpkin and an apple pie?  We had that, plus a pecan pie covered with brownies.

You get the idea.

The great irony is, the story of Thanksgiving probably isn’t even true, at least in the storybook form told to children.  There were already settlers in Virginia by the time of the “first” Thanksgiving in Plymouth, and it would take another 60 years or so before the United States was founded and George Washington declared the first national holiday.  In between, who knows how regular the celebration was.  And since then…well, we (as a nation) haven’t really been so friendly to the (Native American) “Indians”.  Or each other.

But one thing has endured, the fact that the nation as a whole take a day each year to explicitly declare what we are thankful for.  As with Valentine’s Day, we probably shouldn’t wait to the one designated day to say it, but I’m as guilty as anyone.  So here goes:

I’m truly thankful for all of the love and support from my wife, family and friends, and all of the opportunity they have provided me to become the person I am today.  Certainly, I’m thankful for the opportunity the U.S. provides, even if I generally disagree with all 600+ ethically-challenged individuals in Congress (no matter the political party).

And last, but not least, I’m thankful for all of the people I’ve met through the Duke Cross Continent program.  You’ve all shown me how big the world really is, how little I actually know and how great the journey can be while you learn.

There’s really no “break” in the schoolwork, with the Decision Models quiz, Decision Model project and Managerial Economics project all going on this week.  But I’ll be spending the next couple of days with family, enjoying a few great meals with even greater company.  Hopefully all of you will be able to do the same!

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5 comments to If you really think about it, ‘Thanksgiving’ is pretty weird

  • Suresh Ayyanveedu


    Thanks for the Thanksgiving thanks! I am sure some of the non-US friends are hearing about the Thanksgiving for the first time (some asked me!). There are some very interesting material on web if you want to know more about it. Below are some links.

  • Ian Comandao

    and here i was thinking that you’d written an epic piece about how yanks celebrate the slaughter of “dem injuns” and various peoples of the first nations by stuffing what could have been your national bird with corn, breadcrumbs and a secret blend of herbs and spices that vary from state to state… dunno… never really celebrated thanksgiving before, so i can’t really comment (d’oh!) but what i would like to try that turducken… sounds deadly… no, like i mean, heart attack deadly

  • Suresh –

    Thank you, for your thank you, about my thank you! :)

    Thanksgiving as it’s currently celebrated has evolved way beyond what those links show about the history of the holiday. For example:

    Yesterday, President Obama as part of a time-honored tradition, “pardoned” a turkey. In the U.S., after going through the criminal justice system and getting your final sentence, the President can pardon (or forgive) a crime. The pardon is a rare event, and nowadays usually limited to right before the President leaves office. Anyway…

    So every year a different turkey, being “sentenced to death” for a future Thanksgiving dinner, gets a last minute pardon from the President. The turkey then gets to be part of a Thanksgiving parade as a featured attraction, then goes to a wildlife sanctuary.

    And Thanksgiving, being the last holiday before Christmas, also becomes the unofficial start of the Christmas season. So in an amazing display of capitalism and consumerism, the day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday”, and everyone is supposed to rush out and start buying all their gifts.

    To Ian’s point, Thanksgiving isn’t intended to “celebrate” the slaughter of “dem injuns”. Ironically, American Indian’s have been treated so badly by the government through the legal system in the U.S., that they are almost non-existent in daily life outside of Indian Reservations and to an extent ignored completely as part of the holiday.

    Ian, if you think the Turducken looks crazy, look for “Turbaconducken”. A Turducken, covered in bacon. Viva America!

  • Rocky Balboa

    “…even if I generally disagree with all 600+ ethically-challenged individuals in Congress (no matter the political party). ”

    heh :D

    I bet you will find * THAT * sentiment shared across all members of the CC program ;)

  • Yeah…you’ve got to be pretty loyal to one of the two major parties here to not think “Is this the best we can do in terms of leadership?”