Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday.
It’s not pure, exactly—name me a celebration that doesn’t carry some baggage—but it is simple. Get together with people you care about, take a moment to reflect on what you’re thankful for, eat until your eyes roll around in your head. It’s very direct.
No country is as in love with itself as the US is, and nothing reflects that love as much as the Thanksgiving plate. It swoons over a glossy veneer, is driven by an ahistorical narrative, and demonstrates an addiction to traditions that only go back a generation.
Usually it’s centered on a meat that nobody really likes, since the only time you really see turkey outside is either when it’s pretending to be ham or when the eater is pretending to be Henry VIII devouring a massive leg at a Renaissance Faire. Meanwhile, there’s a motley cast of minor players that hang around at the edge of the stage, unholy concoctions across the board. Say hello to the green bean casserole, courtesy of Campbell’s soup company; or the sweet potatoes that may be accompanied by marshmallow.
Still, it’s the act of getting together more than the specific contents of the meal that matter. So in our Thanksgiving dinner, eaten with friends, the turkey was substituted out for a gigantic lump of rare beef, buttressed by some frilly yams, green beans, sweet glazed carrots, and a bready stuffing.
We got together with people we cared about, appreciated what we are thankful for, and ate until we were defeated. I’d call that success.