"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Why Turkey Day is the Greatest American Holiday

First of all, because Thanksgiving's always on a Thursday, it guarantees at least most of us a four-day weekend, which is truly excellent. That's reason enough.

Even the birth of Jesus H. Christ (which even atheists agree was a very good thing) seldom gets us four days off because December 25 lands capriciously everywhichwhere on the weekly calendar. In fact, Bob Cratchit could quite justly have been docked for showing up late on the morning of December 26, after making too much merry.

Second of all, because Thanksgiving must thank God or the universe or whatever for the very special historical/geographical accident that is America. In this materialist world, anything that looks up and not down is a comfort to the human soul.

The Founders, even the most skeptical among them, spoke of a Providence that dropped them and their successors on these shores. America remains the light of the world, if only by default---there is no other nation and/or people to which humanity can look for inspiration.

Third, Thanksgiving's great because we actually eat our national bird, even if Ben Franklin was the only one who saw him that way. As a fat and fairly flightless piece of poultry, the turkey was unique to North America because it was incapable of re-migrating anywhere else. It was us.

(I don't disagree with the choice of the more universal symbol of the eagle for America---it would hardly do for our country to spend billions to put Neil Armstrong on the moon just to say, "The Turkey has landed." [WKRP fans appreciate how macabre that image would have been.])

Now, it was the collectivist Franklin Roosevelt who in 1939 set Thanksgiving permanently on a Thursday, to encourage Christmas shopping on the following "Black Friday," to goose commerce and help cure the Great Depression. For FDR's rare bolt of wisdom from the blue regarding the nurturing effect of free enterprise, may we also be thankful.

Providence takes funny turns sometimes, and if Thanksgiving as we know it has some relation to Christmas and spreading around some filthy lucre, like Bob Cratchit we should not look a gift turkey in the mouth.

Give me tryptophan or give me death.

I'm really looking forward to spending four patriotic days on my butt munching some serious national bird and maybe doing a little shopping in between. Best wishes to all here gathered, and let's thank Providence, Whatever or whoever it is.

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