As much as I’d like to take Thanksgiving and use it as a backdrop to craft an ode to nationalism, my enthusiasm for jingoism is dampened by just how dull this holiday actually is.
Consider the image of a dining room table piled with turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. In the background, one can imagine the Lions game playing while a family sits together and eats. It sounds nice, and truthfully, my own eloquence has nearly swayed me to change positions, but I have experienced too many Thanksgivings firsthand to be converted by such romantic portraits.
First, let me discuss the food. In the path leading up to Thanksgiving, it is quite popular to talk about the coming glutinous festivities, and gluttony always sounds pretty good to me. The caveat, however, is we are talking about excessive amounts of turkey. Seriously, turkey. How does turkey sound especially good to anyone? It’s turkey.
My mom happens to be quite a good cook, and asking her to take time away from making sauerbraten or sfeeha in order to cook a turkey is like commissioning Rembrandt to fill in a coloring book. Turkey is about as bland a food as I can imagine, and maybe if I were in prison, it’s a dish for which I could get excited.
I don’t particularly want to bring up stuffing or cranberry sauce, neither of which have enough supporters to really bother writing against. “No, thank you” is basically an automatic postscript to “Would you like some stuffing?” And I don’t even know what cranberry sauce is for. In earnest, what do you put it on? It has “sauce” in the name, so I imagine you put it on something, but I can’t recall seeing anyone actually eat it, so I don’t know for certain.
I like football, and appreciate that there is an NFL tradition that gives the Detroit Lions national exposure. On another holiday, it might be a pretty nice compliment. But given the fact that football is basically background noise while guests doze off after being sedated by culinary NyQuil, a non-blacked out Lions home game isn’t quite enough to save Thanksgiving.
Of course, none of this is what Thanksgiving is about. The important thing is Thanksgiving gives us a chance to reflect on that for which we are thankful. That is a good thing, and if nothing else, a 10-second phoned-in prayer doesn’t hurt anything. I might suggest, however, thankfulness can be expressed in more substantive ways.
I’m afraid I don’t excel in humility so my suggestions can’t be too grandiose, lest my hypocrisy be distracting, but I might start by passing the idea of putting a few dollars in the collection plate next Sunday or in the next bell ringer’s jar. After that, I might even allow a thankful delirium to prompt me to follow the Golden Rule more closely or to refrain from making an unwanted comment.
If that isn’t more noble than turkey, it’s at least more interesting.