Each year, we celebrate Thanksgiving by doing… basically nothing. All to honor a story that’s not as accurate as you think. Here’s why Thanksgiving is dumb.
The Origin is Dumb
[Thanksgiving is] basically celebrating the first day of the genocide of an entire race.
David’s right. The First Thanksgiving serves as a pretty good symbol for the near-complete eradication of an entire continent of indigenous peoples. Which might explain why we celebrate this famed historic event each year with some folklore that’s got denial at its core. We might as well call it CLIMATE CHANGE IS FAKE AND WE’RE ALL GONNA BE OKAY DAY.
Every good American knows the story of the first Thanksgiving…
The year was 1621. The place, Plymouth, Massachusetts. That year, Squanto and, you know, other Indians (whose names are lost to history probably for being too hard to pronounce, but we’re sure they were super cool people) helped the Pilgrims learn to grow crops off the land.
That fall, the Pilgrims had their first successful harvest, so they invited the Indians to join them in a big feast to celebrate! The Indians brought the turkeys. They played Monopoly, and watched the Patriots whoop the Eagles, and drank Sam Adams beer, and sang Kumbaya, and lived happily ever after.
We teach this story in school. Our children put on plays about it. It’s embedded in everywhere and everything that has anything to do with Thanksgiving. It just won’t go away. Like Nicholas Cage movies.
There’s only one problem. It’s not true.
Lies & Pies
Basically none of that happened. It’s fake news. It’s all bullshit revisionist folklore we Americans came up with to help us forget the ugly, ugly truth: That we were total assholes.
We Photoshopped our zits from the collective High School Yearbook of American history. We told ourselves a lie over and over again – we’re not assholes, we’re not assholes. It even made its way into textbooks. We distanced ourselves from the dirty, dirty truth until it joined the cemetery of former memories, along with that period when Michael Jackson was a black guy, and when Tom Cruise didn’t cheat death by feasting on the placentas of fifth-dimensional beings from the Upside Down.
Oh, and that first Thanksgiving dinner? There was no turkey, no stuffing, no potatoes, and no pumpkin pie. No pumpkin pie?! Can you believe it?! THEN WHAT DESSERT DID THEY BUY AT THE GROCERY STORE ON THE WAY TO AUNT BECKY’S AND PRETEND THEY MADE HOMEMADE?!?!
A More Truthier Version
Well, there were indians. That part is true. Except they’re not from India. They were about as Indian as Fisher Stevens in Short Circuit.
And there were some white people from Europe, too. (But they didn’t wear those ridiculous buckle hats.) And that’s probably where our stories diverge.
Oh, and there really was a dude named Squanto who helped the European settlers learn how to farm. It went down a little differently, though. He was actually captured by the new white people first, and enslaved for a while. He was eventually hauled off to Europe to be sold into slavery there. He managed to escape, learn English, then returned to America bigger and stronger than ever, like Alex Murphy in RoboCop, to help broker a treaty between the European settlers and his people. What a badass.
The First Thanksgiving? Unfortunately, it wasn’t a coming together in thanks – Pilgrims and Indians, in perfect harmony, like that time all those famous singers got together and sang ‘We Are The World’ for Africa. It was actually the culmination of the growing rift between the two peoples. The first true Thanksgiving was the celebration of the massacre of 700 men, women, and children from the Pequot Indian tribe.
That’s right. The European settlers/”Pilgrims” were “thankful” that they were able to successfully kill a bunch of Indians. God, we were such assholes.
No shit. Go look it up. We’ll wait here.
Not all Indians died by sword or bullet or being burned alive inside their teepees. (Yep, we did that too.) Many more died by disease brought by the Europeans. Over 90% of them died from smallpox. It made the genocide that much easier for the white people.
Each year in Plymouth, a gathering of Native Americans celebrate the National Day of Mourning on… guess which day: that’s right, Thanksgiving.
And that’s basically it for the origin story. Thanksgiving just sorta vaporizes for a couple hundred years, being sparsely celebrated. No eating turkey. No watching football to avoid their in-laws. No burning women and children alive inside their teepees.
It went away just long enough to forget its real history, then return having gone through a metamorphosis, stronger than ever, like goddamn Simba from The Lion King.
Thanksgiving 2: Age of Ultron
Thanksgiving wasn’t really again broadly-celebrated until the 1860’s, when Abraham Lincoln was in the throws of the Civil War and was looking for ways to unite the country. He re-invented it with the help of Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, and together, they’re responsible for a lot of bullshit. In other words, Thanksgiving in the form we know and love is kinda just wartime propaganda.
Thanksgiving 3: That One Where the Ninja Turtles Go Back In Time
It gets better. In case you still believed that there was some shred of integrity left around this Thanksgiving bullshit…
FDR later moved the date of Thanksgiving just to expand the Christmas shopping season so retailers could make more money. That’s right – Thanksgiving was officially recognized as a patsy holiday – the kick-off to capitalism’s most shameful walk of shame.
In conclusion, America has ZERO respect for the sanctity of this day. And as it should be. This day sucks. To call the origin ‘dumb’ is an understatement. That’s like calling Rob Schneider a bad actor, or calling fortune cookies an okay dessert.
The Traditions are Dumb
It’s like we didn’t even try to come up with a tradition. The tradition is we overeat.
… we do that every day!
This holiday is in dire need of traditions.
What traditions does it have? Eating? What kind of bullshit tradition is that? Watching TV? We already watch TV 5 hours a day.
The best we’ve got is that breaking of the wishbone thing. Here’s hoping that little Johnny wishes for adults to quit lying to him on holidays. Oh Johnny BTW, we’ve got some sobering news about Santa Claus…
The biggest tradition probably doesn’t happen until the next day, Black Friday, when we shop for Jesus. So there you have it: eating and shopping; the two things Americans are best at. We just need to work in Reality TV, shooting guns, and NASCAR and we’ve covered our bases.
So Thanksgiving fails when it comes to origin, and it fails on tradition. It’s 0-for-2 on the holiday test. Doesn’t that flunk it out? Can we all get together and vote it off the island?
Or maybe we can save it by coming up with some new, better traditions. We’ll get it started:
- We all take turns slapping Harvey Weinstein in the face.
- Name your turkey before you cook it, just like the Pilgrims would’ve wanted! We recommend a nice Christian name, like Paul or Matthew. And then at dinner, talk about Paul like you knew him. “Remember when Paul let the other turkeys finish their feed first? Paul was so polite.” That kind of thing.
- Find a Native American and bake them a pie. Honestly, you owe them at least that much.
Now Buy Our Stuff
The Real Thanksgiving Activity Book
That’s right, Your Holiday is Dumb made an activity book. Fun for the whole family! It’s full of mazes and word searches and all kinds of bullshit we make our kids do so we don’t have to love them.
Other Dumb Thanksgiving Stuff
Thanksgiving isn’t just dumb; it’s actually a celebration of some really terrible stuff. We shouldn’t cover that up. Instead, we should remind ourselves once a year that there were a bunch of white people that came before us that were real assholes.
Shop these and more
An amazing apron, perfect for the Biggest Eating Day in all of late November.
Lovely potholder, which will keep your hands safe.
Today’s Lunch: leftover turkey sandwich and lies about our history
Eat your leftover turkey on Black Friday with a message fit for Red Thursday.