Over the River and Through The Woods: The Season of Giving

21 Nov

Although one should be charitable all year, we are of course entering the season of giving. I do confess to missing my American holidays in the autumn. Both Halloween and Thanksgiving perpetuate the pleasures of graciousness and generosity that have made America famous all over the world. Somehow the English holiday of Bonfire Night, where effigies of baddies are burnt in public fires, seems just too barbaric compared to the simple pleasure of opening one’s door to appreciative children all dressed up, thoughtfully raising their hands to request a single sweet on All Hallows Eve.

Thanksgiving is the most American of American holidays. For those unfamiliar with it, its name is derived from the English words “thanks” and “giving.” It’s a time when Americans pause and reflect on all that they have received over the year (excluding, of course, court subpoenas and STDs).  Oh, how I used to love to sit at a fine table, covered with the fruits of my hard labour. It was a time to stop and be thankful for my incredible talent which allowed me to provide such sustenance to myself and those lucky enough to spend the holiday with me. The scrumptious meal was always a sight to behold. The fat turkey carcass so packed with chestnut stuffing that it fell in clumps from between its legs; the preternaturally magenta display of congealed cranberries; the sweet potatoes bathing in an almost solidified river of syrup, holding tightly to marshmallow flotation devices; and the lard dumplings so filling that my great grandfather used the very same recipe as mortar to bond the bricks of his bomb shelter. Beautiful food for a beautiful nation. Thanksgiving reminds us to look outside of ourselves and appreciate all the people who have helped us to reap such a harvest.

However, those people are not acknowledged just on one Thursday of November because Thanksgiving is also the official opening of the Christmas season, when we give them gifts to show our thanks.  Of course, I don’t mean that we literally buy presents for those who have grown and harvested our food; those people make plenty of money off me already with the ridiculous price of fresh pineapple and mangoes. Instead we symbolize our appreciation of those people through gifts to friends and family, people we actually care about.

As we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving, I know my American compatriots are busily stocking their cupboards and refrigerators with food that they will undoubtedly end up throwing in the bin by next Monday. I imagine the shopping lists and the car boots filled to the rim. I miss such rituals! As a way to ease my homesickness, Christopher has promised to dine with me tomorrow, having arranged a turkey supper to be delivered from the Rose and Crown. He has also been working all weekend to construct a cornucopia in my drinks cabinets to symbolize the abundance of my earthly rewards. I can say without hesitation that I am very thankful for Christopher, and I only hope that the generous pay packet I give him each week goes some way in showing my gratitude. It’s never quite the same, though, having a Thanksgiving dinner just for two; I only wish more of my neighbours could join me in the feast. However, they are mostly dicks and therefore I do not invite them.

But I hope all my readers, whether American or not, will follow my model of wishing the world a wonderful holiday season. Please be charitable to those less fortunate and give thanks to those you appreciate!

NOTE: To donate to the “I’m So Thankful for Miss Agatha Whitt-Wellington that I’d Like to Help Her Retile Her Roof” Fund, please contact Christopher directly with your credit card details.

3 Responses to “Over the River and Through The Woods: The Season of Giving”

  1. MG Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 15:48 #

    I must admit I don’t know much about this Thanksgiving jamboree and only discovered its existence a few years ago, but am I right in thinking it’s something to do with the Indians, or native Americans as they are now known, and thanking them for very kindly giving away their entire country to us white folks and then going off to live in reservations in the more barren bits of it that remained? It must be a very special day for them to be remembered in this way. I believe they also threw a couple of turkeys in, or some such thing, as if these generous chaps felt just the land in itself wasn’t enough, but like I say, I don’t know that much about it.

    • SW/AWW Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 16:29 #

      You’re kind of close. The initial Thanksgiving (and Thanksgiving today) was really all about being grateful for what you have, whatever that may be (default: the ol’ friends and family crap that even poor people can be appreciate). So during the first Thanksgiving, pilgrims were grateful for their successful harvest. As they were obviously more civilized than the “Indians” (who didn’t worship a Christian god and therefore could not possibly understand the concept of gratitude), the Pilgrims thoughtfully encouraged them to be grateful for being massacred. God gives in mysterious ways but who are we to question? I can’t say for sure if the Pilgrims actually sat down at a table with any Native Americans, as I wasn’t there, but if cartoonish Thanksgiving propaganda can be believed (and why shouldn’t it be?), it sounds like everyone—whether they were wearing feathers or buckled hats on their heads—had a jolly good time.
      Re: the turkey. When the Pilgrims first got here, the area was overrun with turkeys so naturally they killed them (same with the Indians, really). Basically, we’re talking a turkey population that was thicker than Jade Goody (god rest her soul), so that became the meat of choice. Additionally, turkeys are easily represented by children by drawing around their hands so good on the Pilgrims for thinking ahead to elementary school Thanksgiving-themed art projects.
      Why exactly Americans eat cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, I do not know. I’m guessing it has something to do with the blood of Christ because the Christians always try to work that in there somehow. The whole football and parade float traditions symbolize Americans’ laziness and slavish devotion to consumerism. Put all that together—massacres, head wear, children colouring, big men on sofas watching other big men knock each other down, and a giant floating Elmo—and you’ve got both Thanksgiving and America sussed. I hope I’ve cleared everything up for you.
      Yours (gratefully),

  2. MG Saturday, 24 November 2012 at 13:36 #

    Thank you, that was very illuminating. I now feel I know a bit more about this strange and cryptic holiday, although I’m still confused about this Black Friday business, especially how it follows a day when, as I’ve now learned from you, one is encouraged to be grateful with what one has, insasmuch as it seems to encourage one to suddenly go zealoulsy crazy in the exact opposite direction and acquire more things as though one isn’t really grateful with what one already has at all. Perhaps this is so they can sit back and be grateful for having them when thanskgiving comes around again the following year? Sort of insuring that one can properly experience the theme of the day by having lots of new stuff around them? Or perhpas it is more that having to be grateful for things for a full day is more than most Americans can stand and so they have to let all that repressed desire to consume and acquire off the leash again? At any rate, I don’t feel this holiday could catch on in the UK for, as I’m sure you know from living here, most people here hate being grateful for anything at all but instead love to have a good grumble about how shit everything is.

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