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Stupid me, I didn't even know there was a War on Thanksgiving, and wouldn't know it yet if our fair and balanced friends hadn't raised the alarm. They're good at raising alarms. They raise a new one seasonally, if not monthly. Obliging all of us to take sides. Even if we'd rather not. Even if we'd rather check the box next to "Doesn't give a rat's ass one way or the other." Last year it was a War on Christmas; this year, it's a War on Thanksgiving; same alarmists, similar b.s. pretext for making a war out of a molehill.
But let's not prejudge it. For the sake of an idler columnist with space to fill, let's say there is such a war and it has opposing partisans — the Thanksgiving traditionalists on one side and some straw people that the traditionalists created on the other. For reasons that aren't really clear, the perfidious straw people want to change all that is sacred about Thanksgiving. They want to outlaw our festive turkey drops. They want the meat left out of our mincemeat pies. They want to dye our cranberry sauce yellow – which just happens to have been Benedict Arnold's and Adolf Hitler's favorite color. Who knows why they want these changes? I know why, and you do too, but this whole business is a charade, a pretense and we're expected to play along.
So the traditionalists insist there's no good reason to change the Thanksgiving template and particulars, and the Straw People ventriloquize back that there are several good reasons, including a more equable distribution of the wealth, the wealth in this case being holiday grub. Vittles.
The traditionalists oppose putting burritos on the Thanksgiving menu, calling that a multicultural whim, suggestive of a broader liberal conspiracy. The Straw People, on the other hand, would add not only Mexican fare, or at least Tex-Mex, but also lasagna, sushi, coq au vin, Greek salad, Bulgarian buttermilk and other ethnic specialties that would gag a true-blue red-blooded American maggot.
The Straw People say the present-day Thanksgiving agenda promotes gluttony and its blubbery tagalong obesity. Give the needy a little more and the broad-beamed a little less and everybody's happier and healthier at the end of the day. The traditionalists say the fat should get more and the hungry less because that's the way God and the free enterprise system work. Hogs hog; that's their nature, their lot. Giving them smaller portions and denying them seconds would only de-enthuse them as job creators.
The Straw People don't oppose giving thanks per se; they just don't want the thanks going to a specific deity. You can give thanks to a generic deity, as long as your grace doesn't leave out any of the known or rumored gods. If you include Jehovah, you should give a separate and equal nod to Allah, Lao-tzu, Baal, Gog and Magog, Ra, Zeus, Jupiter, Odin, Buddha, Harry Krishna, Confucius, the Great Spirit, Quetzalcoatl, Mammon and all the inbred Caesars who achieved godhood by simple proclamation. To name a few.
By the time you get them all properly acknowledged and lauded, of course, the mashed potatoes will be cold and the rolls will need reheating.
Some of the Straw People suggest a compromise in which each of the main gods is thanked for a different entry on the Thanksgiving menu. If you have more gods to thank than food items to thank them for, then you have a lottery-type drawing in which the left-out gods are thanked for the trimmings — one god thanked for the chow-chow, one for the napkins, one for the paper plates, one for the paprika on the deviled eggs, one for the corncobs that will be taken out for later use in the one-holer.
This will further prolong the grace-saying past the point that fidgety children and flatulent old people can reasonably be expected to maintain a reverential bearing. But once it's over and done with, you can trough down in confidence that the grace-saying part was politically correct and constitutionally kosher.
Traditionalists say no — they're always saying no — arguing that Jehovah, aka Yahweh, aka Elohim, aka etc., being the real God, deserves the lion's share of Thanksgiving thanks. If you can't give Him credit for the whole meal, they say, then He should at least get the props for the turkey and dressing. (And the ham, too, if you're one of those willing to pretend that Leviticus 11:7-8 doesn't exist).
The Straw People would give Him an automatic bye into the semi-finals of the annual thanks-garnering competition. That portages Him safely past the indignity that would result from the Lord of Hosts being lumped with the lowly demigods, the nymphs and satyrs, who receive thanks for various of the garnishes and gravies and seasonings. But it doesn't exalt Him above those who fair and square won the plaudits competition for the candied yams, the green-bean casserole, the Karo nut pie. Being the Supreme of supremes, He can rescript at any time and exalt Himself if he takes the notion.
Big sigh goes here.
Due up next, I understand, after another fool episode of the War on Christmas, is an all-new War on Easter. Won't that be fun?
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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