25 November 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

And now it becomes Thanksgiving. The day, perhaps once sacred (though I question its true sanctity given the eventual massacre of the hosts) that has now become somewhat profane. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas buying season, and so, the feast on Thanksgiving, once interrupted by televised football games, now concludes with midnight excursions to the shopping malls. And this is called progress.
A vegetarian for almost 35 years, tomorrow I will with appetite and delight eat the traditional turkey. I will almost certainly eat more than I should and will suffer (not without some pleasure) from my surfeit for the next several days. I will in expiation go to the gym and try to exercise away the several pounds of excess I have consumed. After the meal we screen a movie on the wall of our home¾this year I have been forbidden to choose the film having in previous years made selections that were long¾very long, and sad¾very sad. The day will proceed with joy.
My girls return home. Well, they are my girls but they are women. And they are beautiful, and intelligent . . . and I consider now that I have moved into the status of a cliché: with pride I boast that my children have returned home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I will sit at the table (almost in fancy dress) with interest and great pride and discuss with them their studies, their lives and their loves. I am an aging father and scholar; hopefully the two categories are not discreet. We will discuss¾with honored friends, of course,¾ the horrible news of the day and bemoan the Republican ascendancy and the democratic decline. (The lower case ‘d’ is intentional!) I probably will sit at the table’s head, though not as the head of the table.
When did I become this cliché? I swell (the Yiddish word is kvell) at the thought of my daughters holiday returning. I anticipate with great joy the heavy table at which is seated ourselves and our dear friends. I feel sympathy (and yes, a bit of horror) for the turkey I heartily consume. I will eat too much, too quickly. I will pour again the wine and empty the bottles. Is it somehow inevitable that to belong to community requires some participation in communal celebration?  But won’t I then be no different than all of those Republicans whom I despise? 

Isn’t the meal a form of communion? It is no body (except that of the poor turkey), nor blood I consume but the sense of belonging that I accept in the celebration of the day. I am sorry that shopping ends the Thanksgiving meal. There was a time (and what a time it was) when Thanksgiving did not partake of the mundane. But for me Thanksgiving retains its sacredness and I hope its reality achieves some part of my imaginings for it.


Post a Comment

<< Home