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A Debunkery of the Thanksgiving Myth….

Over Thanksgiving weekend my sister Miranda and I responded to the inquiries of an English friend about the American holiday Thanksgiving. The truth we reveal (involving nationalism, consumerismconspiracies, Christmas, and delicious food that just wasn’t selling well) was too powerful and enlightening even, nay especially, for our fellow Americans, we realized it needed to be shared with the world.

Miranda wrote on her friend’s Facebook wall (that’s where all of the best scholarship is done these days, just ask Sarah Palin):

“Miranda Gerzon: HAPPY TURKEY DAY, TOMMY G!!! gobble…gobble…
(it’s thanksgiving over here in the land of the free)”

To which “Tommy G” responded:

“Thomas Michael German: USA! USA! Do you also eat Turkey at Christmas as well?
Isnt Thanksgiving about a dinner with some native American Indians?
Enlighten me Gertie!”

Oh, enlighten him we did:

“Miranda Gerzon: Well Tom…

American mythology does purport the first Thanksgiving to have taken place with the “Pilgrims” and the native inhabitants. However, like many federal holidays in the US the truth paints a much less rosy picture. So, please allow me to drop some knowledge up in heezy.

Thanksgiving is in fact a nationalistic holiday invented by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. This occurred within the broader heretofore unprecedented global trend towards nationalism and national identity in the 1800s. Unbeknownst to the general public, Thanksgiving was only regionally and sporadically celebrated prior to this. Establishing it as a national holiday was intended to unify the nation around a common mythological origin of shared American identity.

In fact, the first permanent English settlement of the present day U.S. was established in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, for capitalistic purposes. The second permanent settlement, in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was established in 1620 for purposes of religious freedom. It was chosen for this common origin to give further emphasis to the North during the American Civil War between the North and South.

The Pilgrims sought a land where they were free from religious persecution. In the “New World” they were free to oppress themselves and be even more uptight than the English; symbolically exemplified by the belt buckle around their hats and their generally boring clothing (please see photo).

The American Pilgrim displaying his literally uptight belt buckle hat, boring clothing, and commitment to American capitalism in the form of gluttonous consumption of turkey.

Thanksgiving also had the added benefit of promoting the distinctly American but floundering at the time, turkey and cranberry industries (the two most essential and traditional dishes of the Turkey Day feast).

As it always falls on the fourth Thursday of November, it also creates and marks the beginning of the holiday season. By celebrating the holiday at this time we are able to both spend time with our family as well as be reminded of our patriotic obligation to partake in excessive mass consumption as a means to express our undying love for our family and country. The Friday following Thanksgiving statistically generates the biggest shopping traffic of the year. Combining consumerism and competition, it is recipe for an all-out, all-American full contact carnival of capitalism.

But hey, it is a time to give thanks and the food is delicious. So there you have it.

Love,
Gertie

P.S. Eating turkey is only reserved for Thanksgiving. On Christmas we eat anything.

P.P.S. 9/11 was an inside job.”

As an aside, we must admit perhaps some of the scathing cynicism in this essay may originate from the fact that our oven, stove, and dishwasher all broke on Thanksgiving morning 2010. Nevertheless, every word is true.

Eli Gerzon leads Worldschool Travel Tours to various countries around the world (i.e. Mexico and Japan) that are as educational, fun, and mind blowing as the above essay. A high school drop out (though sometimes he says he “homeschooled” or even “unschooled”), Eli studies history for hours on end without any coercion whatsoever and claims to enjoy it.

Miranda Gerzon is on the brink of graduating from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she majors in International Development and Social Change. For the past few years she’s had to constantly write essays like the one above, only for serious.

8 Responses to “A Debunkery of the Thanksgiving Myth….”

  1. Alaric King says:

    This is quite frankly the finest analysis of any national holiday, ever written. I feel proud to know both authors! Though i hear the audience scream for more! We want an informative, funny and cynical run down of the following American holidays:

    Inauguration Day
    Washington’s Birthday
    Memorial Day
    Independence Day (everyone east of Nova Scotia still thinks this is a block busting film staring Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum)
    Labor Day
    Columbus Day
    Veterans Day

    A feel a book signing coming on…

  2. Katerine Ramirez says:

    In spite of my talent writing witty texts and facebook posts, I have no clue what to write on a blog reply, other than I was laughing way too hard while reading this… May be here it is relevant to say that the english settlers were saying goodbuy not really goodbye to england when coming to America.

    Miranda, I think the next holiday insight should be about Columbus day, why do we celebrate “Los Conquistadores Españoles” killing poor latin american natives AND why is it that Clark does not give us that day free?

    • Miranda Gerzon says:

      Aahahahaha! Yes! I’d say that is just about the most perfect usage of ‘goodbuy’ instead of ‘goodBYE’!! You may have coined your own word, Kate 🙂
      As for other holiday insights, it seems we now have two votes for Colombus Day and looks like we’ll have to co-author the one on “Los Conquistadores Españoles” together! What do you say?

      • Kseniya says:

        I think we are this year, I have always had it in the back of my head to uohsconl, but just couldn’t break away. I think I am/was addicted to curriculum lol but now I am getting more and more bored with it all. look forward to following your blog and how uohsconling unfolds for your family.

  3. Chris Gerzon says:

    Hi Miranda and Eli,

    I enjoyed reading this witty article and know that Howard Zinn would be proud of you for your work. I am proud, too!

    Love,
    Aunt Chris

  4. Hahaha very nice guys! I especially like your description of black friday. And did all those kitchen appliances really break down on thanksgiving? Big brother must have heard of your turkey day rant and magically pulled the plug on your kitchen.

    I agree though that you two dynamic Gerzons should tackle the other holidays. You sure would have a lot of material haha. (Christmas songs on the radio right after Halloween, how every holiday is wrapped around consumerism (Presidents Day for buying furniture, Labor Day for buying cars, Valentines Day hahaha), Halloween an excuse to buy overpriced slutty outfits). If our next president is a rep(oo)plican, will he declare a national Buy Things Day? Haha only time will tell.

    Let me know when the book release is 🙂

  5. Lyndsey says:

    Ahhh…should have found this article earlier! Would have worked wonderfully as a retort to my father-in-law who insinuated that I was a unthankful, unpatriotic, heathen for failing to celebrate Thanksgiving. LOL! Want to recap Christmas next?

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