American Thanksgiving has come and gone — as has the Canadian one. Gill, since she couldn’t come home for our celebration, created her own version of Thanksgiving with friends in Bristol last weekend — halfway between the Canadian and American holidays. Her British friends had a vague idea what Thanksgiving entailed, but it was up to Gill to fill in the blanks, starting with the traditional food. I can just imagine her explaining:
“Now the main star of the meal is the turkey…not roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, not goose, not duck.”
“Turkey? But they’re such ugly birds!”
“You’d be amazed at how transformative a few hours in the oven can be — not unlike a day at the spa and tanning salon. The turkey becomes a thing of beauty, suitably browned, glistening, when served on a platter with cranberry sauce and stuffing. But I suppose, if you’re dead set on the other fowl, you could serve a Turducken — a chicken within a duck within a turkey. That way, it would at least LOOK like a turkey.”
Gill continues: “The turkey farmers gear up all year, fattening up the birds, anticipating a real run on them between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, there’s one lucky bird in the U.S. ‘pardoned’ by the President each year…and then it goes on to live a life of luxury at some farm in Virginia. (Which reminds me: has anyone seen the cartoon movie” Free Birds” in which the pardoned bird goes on, with a Secret Service escort, to live in the White House? He is gleeful to discover the marvels of the human world — including the ability to dial up takeout pizza. It’s a ‘must see’ film.) Anyway, this year, two lucky fellows escaped the presidential meat platter…they were named Honest and Abe. I suppose President Obama was making a point by naming the birds after a revered president — since he then pointed out that the “current crop of Republican presidential candidates consists of MANY turkeys”. They should be so lucky as to be pardoned for their sins. In Canada, if we had the same tradition, which we don’t, Prime Minister Justin would be more likely to take a selfie with the turkey and several screaming young women in the background. I’m sure the poor turkey would be none too pleased at being upstaged. The poor ugly fowl wouldn’t stand a chance against our dashing young head of state. I mean, there is no comparison between our fearless leader’s great hair and the turkey’s slicked back head feathers and quivering wattle. But who knows? If Justin doesn’t deliver on his promises, by next year he may in fact be wishing for a pardon — great hair or not!
The guests might ask: “Let me get this straight…The President pardons a dumb bird but not the thousands of people that have been wrongly convicted of crimes?”
“Well, you know, the turkeys represent, figuratively speaking, a large voting block…”
Gill continues: “Thanksgiving day usually works on a strict schedule: First, you hit the malls for the door crasher sales at 6 a.m., eat the big turkey meal, slip into a turkey and pumpkin pie induced coma until it’s time for a friendly game of ‘Cards Against Humanity’, rest up and then hit the malls again at midnight for the Black Friday bargains…at which point, Christmas has just eclipsed Thanksgiving.”
The guests ask:”But what of the Pilgrims and the Indians and the story of the First Thanksgiving? And when do they have time to actually give thanks?”
“To answer the last question first, they give thanks all day: when they’re first in line to rush the stores, when the dog doesn’t get to the turkey before the humans, when the Tums are passed around WITH the dessert. As for the story, many of the schools put on pageants, with Pilgrims and Indians, etc. but people are so politically correct these days that, as soon as you mention ‘Indians’, it brings up the whole naming of the baseball teams like the Redskins and then it deteriorates into a discussion over racism and native rights and soon everyone wants to hurl the turkey at each other instead of eating it. The Mom actually has a non-controversial way of having her own ‘pageant’. She dons the felt turkey bonnet I gave her years ago and presides, in all seriousness, over the dining table. We all burst out laughing when the orange turkey bonnet legs drag through the gravy on her plate and make tracks all over the tablecloth. After that, who needs a pageant? We are our own pageant.”
The guests are confused:”But you seem to be mixing up the Canadian and American versions of the holiday. What’s up with that?”
“That’s because the two versions ARE mixed up. In fairness, there are a few things that distinguish the holidays: in Canada, since our celebration is in early October, if we travel by car, we don’t usually need snow tires. In the U.S., since it happens late in November, folks are usually confronted, as they were this year, with nature’s worst weather — everything from blizzards in the Rockies and plains states to flooding and possibly tornadoes in the south and freezing rain, wind, and general miserableness in the northeast. Many of the cranberries we consume in Canada come from Maine and Vermont and Southern pecan pie has become a favorite. If we Canadians fly to our destinations, we know we’ll have to arrive at the airport in plenty of time to wait in the endless lines. We are worried about whether our special homemade chutney and stuffed teddybears for the grandkids will make it through security. After all, they COULD be lethal weapons. In the U.S., they also suggest people leave early to allow plenty of time for checking baggage and security checks. And folks are reminded to bring proper I.D. (passports, driver’s license) and NOT TO BRING THEIR GUNS to the airport.
“Really???” her guests ask. We didn’t see that one coming. Perhaps we’re better off here in the U.K. eating our roast and Yorkshire pudding, getting drunk, and hunkering down to watch ‘Black Books’, ‘Spaced’ or ‘The IT Crowd’ on the tely.. And we can give thanks that our British sense of humor is the only thing about us that kills….”