24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

When dealing with foreigners, Americans have a particular problem to overcome that we share only with the British:  from watching tv and the movies, people who have never been here think they know all about the place. They think that underemployed 20 year olds in New York City have two-bedroom, two bath apartments on Central Park; they think that gunfights break out two or three times during our morning commute; and they think we're always eating.  (That's apparently the take-away for Indians watching Seinfeld, which, fair enough.)

Of course, anyone who has ever watched a tv show or movie supposedly about something the watcher actually knows about, like working in an office or practicing law or parking a car in Manhattan, knows that tv has no connection to what really goes on because (a) if it did, it would be just as boring and frustrating as those things actually are; (b) tv writers are hired directly out of Harvard and don't actually have any real life experience.

Thanksgiving is the one great exception to this rule.  Thanksgiving has been presented on large and small screens 10,000 times, and each time has been exactly accurate. We travel great distances to eat together, around a large table heaping with food, and argue and laugh and love.  And even those who aren't blessed with family and feasts know exactly what they'd be doing if they were.

Every year when late November rolls around, Peter and Brit make cracks about how Thanksgiving is just second Christmas.  This shows that they understand American Thanksgiving, but misunderstand American Christmas.  Christmas in the states is nothing like what is shown on tv or in the movies, even in snowy New England villages.  In practice, Christmas is a minor secular holiday that happens to fall during school vacation.  Thanksgiving is the high holiday of our national religion.

To your and yours, a happy, safe and healthy Thanksgiving.


erp said...

... and to you and yours.

Harry Eagar said...

And after dinner, we shoot each other. I don't think TV shows that.

I don't particularly agree with you about Christmas, either. It's more competitive than Thanksgiving, but otherwise similar

Brit said...

I suppose this begs the question, why do you make all those Christmas movies then?

Peter said...

Hey, hey, I don't recall making cracks about your Thanksgiving, merely marvelling at how you all choke the airports to gridlock and stuff yourselves with turkey, only to do it again a few weeks later. This all started when Orrin rashly boasted how America was the only country that celebrates Thanksgiving, which would bring out the Rodney Dangerfield in any Canadian. Ours is in early October. We don't travel as a rule and it's a more low-key affair, but then what isn't up here?

Now, I understand the religious signifigance of your NFL games, but, tell me, why are Boxing Day sales secular and Black Friday sales sacred?

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Hey Skipper said...

A sale that isn't sacred?

According to my wife, there is no such thing.

My Thanksgiving?

Sitting in crashpad with a decent chance of reaching the end of the internet.

Quite an accomplishment, to be sure. But Happy, not so much.

David said...

Harry: I doesn't have to be Thanksgiving for us to shoot each other.

Brit: We make lots of movies about Halloween, too; that doesn't make it Thanksgiving. Christmas movies basically give parents something to do with kids over vacation; they tend to be treacly or comedy or treacly comedy. The few Thanksgiving movies that are made tend to be about honor, family, country and what it means to be an American.

Peter: I'm with OJ on this one. You don't celebrate Thanksgiving, you celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. And it's not earlier because of good planning, it's earlier because your growing season is shorter.

Skipper: Now, that could be a Thanksgiving movie.

Peter said...

I'm with OJ on this one. You don't celebrate Thanksgiving, you celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.

That's as close to an American version of "Storm Over Channel--Continent Cut Off" as I've ever seen.

David said...

Thanks, Peter. I'm truly touched.