Many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November each year. As a child, my family celebrated with the traditional turkey and stuffing and watching the obligatory Macy’s Day parade on TV. As a parent, I tried to recreate that “special feeling” for my family, and remember crying terribly when, as a young mother of 21 or 22, I dropped my turkey on the kitchen floor. When I was much older, I wanted to share the Thanksgiving tradition with a new friend from Palestine and his friends. I set the table with all of my Grandmother’s beautiful china and silverware, and tried to cook the turkey just as I remember Grandma cooking it many years ago. My memory was faulty and the turkey was so dry and brittle, it practically shattered when I took it out of the oven. Ugh!
This year, I’m visiting a friend and didn’t cook a turkey (we were invited out) but I wanted to prepare a special meal for her the night before Thanksgiving. I went to the store and got all the fixings for steaks, vegetables and salad. With great anticipation, I pulled it all together and it looked like the perfect meal as she walked in the door.
We sat down, almost simultaneously took a bite of our steaks, smiled, and then I choked. I choked and choked, and my eyes got big as I realized what was happening. I had not chewed my steak well enough before swallowing and it was lodged deep in my throat. She tried the Heimlich maneuver on me but that didn’t work. I could breathe but I couldn’t swallow, and it was PAINFUL.
My friend took me to the emergency room, the doctor gave me medicine to relax my esophagus, and eventually I threw up a piece of meat the size of my ring.
So, the moral of this story is to chew your food well ….. whether it’s turkey or steak or anything else. Don’t learn the hard way. Believe me, it’s no fun.
Which leads to another moral of the story … sort of … don’t live in the past, trying to recreate fond memories of yore. You’ll never succeed. Instead, live in the moment and create brand new memories for the future.
So in keeping with my own advice, I’m sharing things for which I’m NOT thankful. My many friends and family members have posted glowing words and pictures on social media about what gives them pause to be thankful about this holiday. Bah-humbug!
- I am not thankful that Americans don’t seem to appreciate their blessings the other 364 days of the year. It feels shallow to me that we stop to give thanks on only one day, when we should be taking time each day to give thanks.
- I’m not thankful that many Americans feast on obscene amounts of food on this particular holiday while so many neighbors have none — and those neighbors are often invisible while in plain sight.
- I’m not thankful that many Americans don’t understand or appreciate the Native American perspective of Thanksgiving. White man’s colonization of the indigenous tribes by some accounts led to the death of 10 to 30 million people. Read the first chapter of Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present” if you don’t know this history.
- I’m certainly not thankful for Black Friday, the crass commercialism on TV and the decision by CEO’s to open their retail stores on Thanksgiving so that more middle class and poor people will spend their hard-earned money on trivial trinkets. Don’t we have enough stuff?
- I’m not thankful for the gluttony I see around me and the tight-fisted attitudes of many Americans whose hearts won’t open to a sharing economy because they live in fear of losing whatever they might have.
- I’m not thankful for people suffering (in my community, in the Philippines, in Gaza and everywhere else) when I KNOW that it’s within our power (Americans and Western nations) to ease their suffering, yet politics seem to get in the way.
- I’m not thankful for the NRA for wielding so much power in Congress that our elected officials are incapable of passing meaningful gun control laws.
- Likewise, I’m not thankful for AIPAC for wielding so much power in Congress that our elected officials are incapable of being fair in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- I’m not thankful for my own stupidity, and not chewing my food well, and choking on my meat, but I’m very thankful for the nurses and doctors and technicians and friends who work on a holiday to help ease my pain. THANK YOU!
There! I got it off my chest. While everyone waxes nostalgically with their warm wishes and giving thanks, I’ll be the Grinch that throws some cold water on their parade. Wake up people!