In order to totally understand a holiday like Thanksgiving, we first have to understand that there is a basic symmetry in the universe. Thanks to our friends, Albert Einstein and Steven Hawking, we have quarks and quirks, string theory and string bikinis, dark matter and dark meat (from the turkey, of course). Special thanks must be given to Werner Heisenberg who kindly gave us the “uncertainty principle”, which limits precision in quantum theory. To apply Heisenberg to our general life, a bit of extraordinary extrapolation perhaps, it is guaranteed that there will be a certain amount of unpredictability in our lives. So for all of you fans suffering from OCD, sorry but you cannot always be prepared for what comes next.
Thanksgiving should be classified as “The Holiday of the Anomaly”. We see both sides of the coin throughout the entire day. Many of us get to spend the holiday with family members, a group which may include those members that we truly love and wish to see more often. But then there are those that we would far prefer to stay in the other room (or Siberia, if possible). In-laws aside, who are already classified as the “enemy”, we may have to deal with cousins that we really never liked, uncles and aunts that insist on pinching your kids’ cheeks (knowing full well that the kids hate it), and relatives with political opinions to the right of “Attila the Hun”.
The food at Thanksgiving is often the standard fare, with a few twists occasionally thrown in. A scrumptious turkey or ham generally graces the table at a traditional family feast. If you have Italian relatives, you may find lasagna or pasta carbonara invading the norm. The center of the table displays a large dish of giblet gravy, a visually unappealing substance. However, when embraced by your taste buds, a sensation of delight sends your palate into overload. The festive table is adorned with a wide variety of side dishes: multiple types of stuffings; cranberry sauces; broccoli; candied yams with marshmallows; and those ever-popular brussels sprouts. The dessert table will be saturated with delicacies: apple and pumpkin pies; fresh fruit platters; and a multitude of pastries. This is a feast fit for any king and his court.
But then there arrives the relative who finds tryptophan to be an issue, so a substitution of capon for the turkey becomes a necessity. We may have to endure the semi-Kosher Jewish relative, who is not about to tolerate ham at the table. Let’s not forget the vegan, who will scoff at the glorious display at the table, while lecturing the family with “cruelty to animal” slogans recited from the PETA website. And finally we have the “dieters” who view the dessert table with lust, while stating very firmly that we should be bringing up our children with a much healthier diet.
There is rarely enough room at the main table, so kids are often relegated to a separate table or even a separate room. That is ok until you receive the slew of complaints from the teenagers that they do not desire to eat with the five and six year old “brats” that are “just so annoying”. (They don’t want to be around the extremely boring adults either!) And for that matter, why did they have to come to Thanksgiving dinner anyway; they could have had a much better time staying home, playing video games with their friends!
For the male attendees of the holiday, there is Thanksgiving Day football, Green Bay vs. Detroit, an absolute necessity for all true fans. This is where Heisenberg’s “uncertainly principle” appears to fail = Green Bay has won the last eight Thanksgiving Day games.
History paints a beautiful picture of the first Thanksgiving. Somehow I have a little trouble visualizing the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe sitting at a giant table, dining in peace and comradery, celebrating a future of peace between Europeans settlers and Native Americans. Being slightly cynical, I cite the words of the great statesman, Jon Stewart, who describes the holiday in his memorable words, “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land."