Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be Thankful You're Not Having Eel Pies (Take Two)

NOTE:  This is a repost.  But, it's a repost with a few new pictures.  And maybe a couple new jokes.  Basically, it's a warmed over Thanksgiving feast.  If you haven't read it already, it's new to you.  If you have read it, I hope you like the new stuff.  If you've read it already, but can't remember that you did, congratulations.  The Republican Party has a spot for you.

       Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

    It’s the first of the year-end celebrations, the others being Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years.  And, by New Years, I mean New Years Eve.  January 1st is really only meant for watching college football and making resolutions to not act like a jackass at the next New Years Eve party.

    Provided you even get invited back.

    You could make the case that Veterans Day kicks it off.  But, as evidenced by the dismal ratings of the short-lived It’s the War to End All Wars, Charlie Brown special, the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month just doesn’t make for a merry start of the holiday season.

    So, it’s really the 4th Thursday of November which gets the festivities rolling (hey, it’s easier than trying to figure out when the frik Easter is).

    After all, what evokes the holiday spirit more than getting trampled at Wal-Mart by frenzied harpies in bathrobes and curlers on Black Friday?

Proclaimed a federal holiday
in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln.
Not surprisingly, the Confederacy said,
"Ya'll can take your Yankee Holiday and shove it."
Which was a shame. Because they
were supposed to bring the sweet potato souffle.
    As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate how special Thanksgiving is.  A more sober occasion than the frenetic zaniness of the Yuletide season, at Thanksgiving we gather just to be together, not because we hope to score the latest electronic gizmo.

    Oh, sure, even though there are parades, football games, and enough food to sink the Mayflower, Thanksgiving is thankfully (pardon the pun) devoid of the commercialism of Christmas and the bacchanalian excess of New Year’s Eve.

On December 26, 1941, signed a resolution
switching Thanksgiving
from the last Thursday in November to the fourth.
"Hey, get off my ass, it's all I had time to do.
There's a frikkin' war going on, you know."
    Gratefully, we aren’t bombarded by wall-to-wall advertisements to get our loved ones (or our families) the very latest in techno wizardry (“Because, if you REALLY loved Mom, you’d buy her a Kindle Fire!”) in the run-up to Thanksgiving.  Plus, there’s no such thing as a “24-Hour Thanksgiving Music Station” or a “Randolph the Hair-Lipped Turkey” special on the Hallmark channel.
Oh, forgot about this one.
No wonder.
It sucked.

    No, it’s a calming prelude to the mania which paralyzes every December.  It’s a time to appreciate what we’ve been given.

    As the day draws nearer, I think back to that very first day of thanks held almost four hundred years ago...

    The brightly colored leaves swirling madly amongst the trees, a chill autumn wind blowing briskly over freshly-harvested fields, and the forest animals bustling crazily about in preparation for winter.

    And nobody fighting over the remote.

"Hey, does anyone else
have to pee after that long ass boat ride?"
    So it was in 1621 that Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony thought it was high time to celebrate a day of thanksgiving.

    Frantically scurrying to find a suitable venue at which to hold their celebration, the Pilgrim Fathers were disappointed to learn they were too late; all the good days in October and early November had been reserved months ago for the Pequot/Schwartz wedding reception, the Jamestown “We Were First” Commemoration, and the last of the Mohican family reunions.

    Luckily, a spot opened up the last Thursday of November when “Mohawks On Ice!” was forced to close after some Hurons stole their loincloths.  So, the Native Europeans invited their friends, the Native Americans, to a grand feast at the local Elks Lodge picnic pavilion (with real elk). 

    A deeply devout people, the Pilgrims wished to thank the “Godless heathen savages” for all their help getting the colony on its feet.  After all, the tribe was essential to gaining a foothold in the New World, long before the Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee, and all-you-can-eat casino buffets. 

"Behold, for I bring you the gift of maize.
As long as you don't mind the smell of dead fish."
    Imagine what would have happened had Squanto not taught the Pilgrims to plant fish with their corn.  

    Prior to that, they just stuck them in their trousers.

"Seriously, Sleeps With Chickens?  Eels??
Couldn't bring a French Bean casserole
like a normal person, could ya?"
    Plus, the tribe brought the eel pies.  Hmmmmmm....eel.

    Many customs today hearken back to this coming together: the feast, the fellowship, the two-hand touch lacrosse game after supper, and the men falling asleep in front of the fire with their hands down their pants while the women cleaned up all laid the foundation of our nation.

"Okay, then, we get to keep Thanksgiving.
And NASCAR, the Super Bowl,
All-You-Can-Eat hot dog contests,
stuffed crust pizzas, Madonna....hey!!!!
Didn't we give her to you?  Ohhh, crap."
    NOTE:  By our nation, I mean the United States.  Canada, you have your own Thanksgiving, which has something to do with Martin Frobisher or hockey, or something.  England?  You coulda had a piece of this, but noooooooooo.

    Happily, it was the giving of thanks which has endured through peace, war, and disco.  No doubt Governor Bradford himself began a tradition which survives to this day:  putting relatives on the spot to state that for which they were thankful.

    In homes across the nation, this scene will be played out anew during halftime.  In the true spirit of the holiday, millions of family members will likewise be grilled.

    This year, though, in addition to joyful thanks for family, friends, and the feelings of warmth which come from both, one will resonate above all:

    That Great-Aunt Mildred was able to buy the last case of Twinkies from that guy in the back of his van at the Stop N Shop.

    Because the alternative was the Eel Pies.

    And I don’t care how much Cool Whip you put on them, they’re still eels.



  1. This is great Al and really made me laugh. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving over here so I love to hear the story behind it, I think it's an awesome holiday and that more countries should make a point of a day to celebrate the good things that we have. Here's wishing you and your family an awesome Thanksgiving!

    On a related note, what you said about New Year's is true. New year's Day really sucks compared to the evening before!

    1. New Years Day is kinda depressing. It's on that day that I realize that all the hoopla is over and I have a few months of winter to "look forward" to.
      Plus, my frikkin' head hurts.

  2. Well I do agree that Thanksgiving itself isn't too commercial, and it really is the start of the holiday season (in America) I do think that things associated with it can be considered quite commercial. Such as Black Friday. God I hope no one dies this Black Friday. I also didn't know just when Thanksgiving actually is. That is, when it's worked out. So now I know. Have a good one either way Al, and eat all the turkey you can.

    1. I do have to use the calendar each year to figure out when Thanksgiving is. But it's not as bad as Easter. At least I know Thanksgiving is in November. EASTER can be in March or April. And around Passover.

  3. Freakin' hilarious!!!!!!! Oh, and if there was a "Rudolph the hair lipped turkey" TV special, I would SO watch it.

    1. And, of course, what did my nieces and nephews watch at my sister's house? Yep, that wicked sucky Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special.

  4. I always love your hysterical/historical rants. History is so clear the way you present it. More history teachers like you would have kept more dropouts in school. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I'm afraid that their final exam essay would have been how the Civil War would have turned out if the South brought sweet potato souffle to the White House, after all.
      It'd be a fun job, though.

  5. haha perfect blend of history and hilarity. But yeah, it is pretty commercial, as you guys have fatal err um black friday. Up here it is all done and nothing afterwards, us canadians are just early and lazy I suppose haha

    1. Ya know, the more I thought about Black Friday, the more I was afraid I would contradict myself, but it's really a Christmas thing. Then I thought it made my point about the crass commercialism of that holiday and wasn't about Thanksgiving after all. Still, I got a bitchin' flat screen TV for a song. Had to knock that pregnant lady down at Walmart to get at it, though.

  6. For someone who's favorite subject was history, Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday.

    1. It sure isn't good for a diet, that's for sure.

  7. Way to build in a Twinkie Reference. Slow Clap.

    1. I was hoping that the Twinkie fiasco wouldn't have been solved before I posted this. No sense letting a happy ending ruin comedy.

  8. How is it you're not a history teacher, Al? I admit, I alway leave here half wondering if what you say is true or not. In our house, we always make sure dinner is done by the time the Cowboys kick off. How sad is that? But, it's a long standing tradition, almost as long as eel pie.

    1. I would have loved being a history teacher and think I would have taught the subject pretty much like I do here. My biggest challenge would have been getting the kids to know which was jive and which was real. For example, the thing about eel pies, Squanto, Lincoln, and FDR: real. The Pilgrims probably didn't play two lacrosse, though.