Thanksgiving 11/28/19

Reflections of a Feast by Richard Bleil

Once again, it’s that time of year. Time for women to work for three days straight so men can gorge themselves in twenty minutes, then unzip their pants in the living room watching football while the women make too much noise cleaning the dirty dishes.

Does this sound shameful? It should. There’s a simple solution; HELP OUT! If you’re a man who actually helps prepare and clean, then you get to be that man who says, “ugh, I can’t believe there are men like that!” Handy, isn’t it?

I love Thanksgiving, but eating turkey is too much like cannibalism for me.

For many years, I used to say how great it is that we remember that one day that the settlers were nice to the Native Americans before the wholesale slaughter began. Our treatment of the Native people is fraught with shameful events and important lessons that, frankly, we still haven’t learned. But the reality is that, in all actuality, it was the Native Americans who were kind to the settlers. Consider that the Native people, there were between two and eighteen million Native Americans already on the continent. Estimates vary because, obviously, there were no records and it depends on how you define the Americas (how far north and how far south). The reality is that the settlers never could have gotten a foothold had the Native people decided to push them back into the ocean. The generosity (and I’m guessing curiosity) of these people allowed the settlers to land, and claim land for developing their colonies. I’m sure that the Native people, being nomadic in nature, must have laughed at these odd travelers who built permanent structures, and wondered why they put so much effort into building these structures, or how they would move them as weather and food availability shifted. This also gave rise to a clash of how the two cultured viewed land. Native people believe (and still do today) that it is they that belong to the land, while the settlers laid claim so the land belonged to them. This is probably why the Native people were such light travelers; they moved on when Mother Earth told them it was time to do so, whereas the settlers owned this land and damnit come hell or high water they weren’t going to leave for any reason!

The Native people did more than just allow the settlers to, well, settle. They also helped out. They traded and treated the strangers as neighbors, but also made sure they knew how to grow crops in this new, strange and often hostile land. It was the native people who showed the settlers how to resolve headaches by chewing on certain leaves and the barks of certain trees (the tree is “Spiraea”, which gave rise to the name “Aspirin”). They also taught the settlers how to fertilize their crops. The Native people thought of it as an offering; giving back to Mother Earth for the bounty the crops would yield by burying the heads of fish among the planted seeds.

There is a tradition in many households where people will talk about what they are thankful for this year. It’s a good tradition, but maybe it should expand. Maybe we should include thanks for the people that have given and sacrificed of themselves for the past year in your behalf, whether or not we take note. Teachers who work for little pay, and often use that pay for supplies for the classroom. The police who take regular verbal abuse for putting their own lives in the line to make our society a safer place for everybody. The garbage people who keep the streets sanitary and clean for the rest of us. The plumbers, the fast food workers, the water treatment plant technicians, the nurses, the people who teach us how to put the feast on our tables, when we would just as quickly turn our backs on them.

The Bible tells us that we are all sinners. I guess until just now I never realized just how true that must be. As I write this blog, I think about my own selfishness, and wonder how many people I never even think about who are working to make my life better. There are so many people that work “behind the scenes” that nobody can possibly think of all of them. We are all guilty, even if we don’t wish to be. We all take things for granted without wanting to. So, collectively, let’s be grateful for these wonderful unsung heroes, the men and women and children (yes, children) who give of themselves routinely. And while we’re at it, let’s work to break these gender roles, and help out with the cooking and cleaning so that all of us, regardless of gender, can unzip our pants.

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