Thanksgiving Need Not Blow

As has become his wont, with the approval of his employer, Charles Blow feels compelled to provide readers with their daily dose of our awfulness so that this Thanksgiving, no one will be without a heaping helping of misery on their plate.

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was simple. It was about turkey and dressing, love and laughter, a time for the family to gather around a feast and be thankful for the year that had passed and be hopeful for the year to come.

In school, the story we learned was simple, too: Pilgrims and Native Americans came together to give thanks.

Same with me. It was a wonderful secular holiday, celebrating love, family and brotherhood. It was the moment to reflect on the bounty we enjoyed and to do something too rarely done. Give thanks.

So, let us correct that.

Why? Why do you obsess over misery? We all grew up, learned that history was somewhat more complicated than what we were told in nursery school. You’re not the only person who came to the epiphany that people aren’t the good version of cartoon characters. Then again, they’re not just the evil version either, a point that constantly eludes you in your retelling of stories to show how awful the white European colonizers were.

Just 16 years after the Wampanoag shared that meal, they were massacred.

This was just one of the earliest episodes in which settlers and colonists did something horrible to the natives. There would be other massacres and many wars.

There’s an older woman in my life, we’ll call her my mother-in-law, who can manage to dredge up every wrong done to her going back to the moment of her birth at the drop of a hat. She’s not wrong, even if her characterizations are from her perspective and others have somewhat different recollections or more benign characterizations for her recalled atrocities.

No one wants to be around her when she does this. It’s not that she’s necessarily wrong, but no one wants to wallow in her complaints over and over. The point isn’t to forget history, or deny it. The point is to move forward, to more positive and beneficial uses of our lives.

We can remember the past and still take the best from it and use that to make the future better than the past. But you’re not one to let it go so easily, are you Charles? You have pain to inflict, like the sadist who rationalizes the pleasure he gets from whipping others. And this is your time, when the guilt-ridden sit at your knee, sucking in the misery you dump on them and thanking you for each sting of your lash.

Whether Blow’s history lesson is accurate, or sufficient, is immaterial. There are few people above the age of 13 unaware that the colonization of the New World wasn’t what we were taught in kindergarten.

I spent most of my life believing a gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving, thinking only of feasts and family, turkey and dressing.

I was blind, willfully ignorant, I suppose, to the bloodier side of the Thanksgiving story, to the more honest side of it.

I doubt this, Charles. I suspect you knew, as did most modestly educated folks, that there was a bloodier side, but you, like most of us, rose above it to recognize that we were a better society by taking a day to give thanks for our bounty and celebrating love, family and brotherhood. You, unlike most of us, realized the worthlessness of spending our day wallowing in misery of what people hundreds of years ago did wrong, as if it’s a virtue.

But I’ve come to believe that is how America would have it if it had its druthers: We would be blissfully blind, living in a soft world bleached of hard truth. I can no longer abide that.

You’ve gone from a “gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving” to a college sophomore’s outraged version. I believe that America would rather appreciate the magnificent abundance we enjoy than spend our life hating ourselves for past transgressions, not because the past didn’t happen, but because there is no better future if we can’t move forward.

Come, Charles. Join me for a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat and learn the adult version, where we remember hard truth but overcome it to celebrate the good of this day and show our appreciation for the blessings we enjoy rather than doom our existence to idealized misery. Of course, you’ll have to sit at the table with my mother-in-law until you grow up and the rest of us can abide you.

14 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Need Not Blow

  1. Kathleen Casey

    Your caption suits him. He needs a good therapist or spiritual advisor or both. Maybe a brain transplant.
    Happy Thanksgiving Scott!

    Reply
  2. Futardave

    Old Charlie has got a small issue
    His soul is as thin as a tissue
    Everywhere his nose goes
    The vitriol flows
    Dear Charlie, please give it a blow.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Gamso

    My favorite holiday.

    We all agree in tour gathered group that the grade school story is largely, ahem, bullshit.

    But it ain’t about Squanto or those who stole his land killed his family.

    It’s about us.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  4. CLS

    Unfortunately, I’m going to agree with Mr. Blow’s sentiment on today, but for an entirely different reason.

    As I type this, the stove in my kitchen is filled with five pies. Four are single serving versions of Dr. S’s legendary Apple pie, and one is a family sized pecan pie.

    I would love to move the pies into my stomach this morning, but family tradition dictates we save pies for dinner this evening. So alas, I may not touch the pies this morning.

    I would also like to start some coffee this morning, but that would require moving the aforementioned pies. So alas, no coffee this Thanksgiving morning.

    Maybe there is something to this #NationalDayOfMourning the wokescolds at the Times, lead by the Blowhard in chief, preach.

    Or maybe he’s just devoid of anything in life that’s fun and joyful. I suspect that’s a prerequisite to getting op-ed space in the TImes these days.

    Screw it! I’m having coffee some way this morning. And maybe pie.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      On the telly yesterday, I watched as some ridiculed the Trumpist lie that progressives were out to eliminate Thanksgiving. “Who is doing this? No one!” they said in highly sarcastic tones.

      Now, Charles doesn’t quite call for its elimination, so his column isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of turkey and brotherhood either. So it might be fair to say it’s a lie that some want to get rid of Thanksgiving, but it might not be too much of a stretch to say that some want to make it as unpleasant a holiday as possible.

      Reply
  5. albeed

    Again, Charles is picayune and thoughtless in choosing his Thanksgiving victims.

    We should tell you of other atrocities much worse that occurred and went unmentioned.

    Signed,

    Misters/Misses Turkey, Rabbit and Deer

    Reply
  6. Howl

    The fact that the human species is still here, in spite of itself, shows that the good outweighs the bad. Here’s to the good.

    Reply
  7. Anthony Kehoe

    I emigrated here from Ireland like millions of my countrymen before me. If these people had their way back in the 17th century, those millions and countless other millions would have died in their native countries, let alone the billions that wouldn’t have been born. History has any number of terrible and gory stories to tell, both enumerated and assumed. Why not celebrate how we have arguably better lives now than those poor people back then and give thanks to their sacrifice?

    Reply

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