My Grandfather's Thanksgiving Toast!
by: Max Burbank
"Family. Friends. Neighbors. Freeloaders one and all, welcome to my table. Before we begin the ritual consumption of more food than the average African child will set eyes on over the next two months, I think it is right and fitting, that I lead you in prayer. How unfortunate for us all that not only do I not believe in God, it is my opinion that your belief is a manifestation of fears, ignorance and prejudice of a level that makes you superior to apes only in that you are, most of you, less hairy. So instead, I propose this toast, and if one of you so much as lays a finger on a roll before I've finished, I'll cut that finger off. See if I'm kidding.
The celebration of the traditional American Thanksgiving presents us with two great lies. The first is the handprint Turkey. If you place your hand upon a sheet of construction paper, trace around it, and cut it out, you will have a piece of paper that resembles a Turkey given only the most liberal and compassionate interpretation. Glue googly eyes upon it, cut feathers of red, yellow, and orange, affix a clever wattle if you like. My bride suggests an uninflated red balloon, and her Sunday Schoolers swear by it. It hardly matters. What you have is a cut out of your hand with things glued on it. And yet, though we all know this, I am expected to ooh and ahh over the various hand print turkeys my grandchildren gift me with, just as if I won't throw them out as soon as, if not before, their little backs are turned. Stick a prom dress on a turd, it still will not dance for you.
The second great lie of Thanksgiving is that the so-called 'First Thanksgiving' has anything whatever to do with the holiday we celebrate tonight.
One of the things I am most thankful for is that since my own children somehow graduated elementary school, I have not been required to sit through a Thanksgiving pageant. Our entire community should be thankful, since as the years have passed, my patience for the public display of folly has deteriorated to the point where the sight of small children aping Pilgrims and savages before the footlights could not be born without the discharge of firearms.
I do not mean to imply that history does not record a harvest meal in 1621, shared between the Wampanoag and the fifty some odd surviving human flotsam clinging to life scant yards from where the Mayflower dumped them. Our Native American guests placed corn, squash, fish and Turkey upon the festive table. We supplied liquor, smallpox and for desert, a foreshadowing of genocide. Why we insist on harking back to this single instance of poorly conceived tolerance on the part of the indigenous population is beyond me. They thought better of it soon, but not soon enough. The children at the table will PLEASE MAKE NOTE that Thanksgiving as we know it was not an annual tradition from that point on. Tying that one damn dinner to our modern tradition is random, bizarre, unwarranted and infuriating.
It was not until 1863, more than two hundred years later that a weary, drunken, acromegalic, possibly homosexual Abraham Lincoln created the modern Thanksgiving. Declared as it was in the midst of a bloody civil war, it may well have been, like the suspension of Habeas Corpus, Lincoln's idea of a good joke. It is a well-known fact that marriage to a psychotic will turn your sense of humor black. This may or may not have been Lincoln's excuse, but it is certainly mine. That being said, if my bride's signature giblet gravy appears more lumpy than usual, I advise you to give it a miss. You will see there is no knife at her setting. While I can spare none of you her genetic taint, I can at least deprive her of weaponry.
Still and all, though I have demonstrated that from hand turkeys to history, Thanksgiving is as much about lies as anything else, I insist we have much to be thankful for.
At this table, we, all of us have had the good fortune to be born Caucasian. If this weren't enough, as Americans we own all the best weapons. As miserable as my life has been, it is entirely due to irritation caused in the main by all of you. It is in no way comparable to the misery experienced by almost everyone else on the planet, quivering half naked at this very moment in their mud and wattle huts. I do not know what wattle is, I will never need to know, and for this I am grateful. Soon the heathen Chinee will doubtless swarm the globe and all we hold dear will be dust and memory, but chance has deposited us in this historic instant of American dominance, and so we are able to stuff ourselves until we are as gorged as ticks on the belly of a paralyzed dog!
So lets raise a glass. I intend to keep refilling mine until I fall backward out of this chair in a dead drunken stupor. Let my children and their children know I have emptied my pockets. There is nothing to be gained by rifling them.
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